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Columbia Missourian

McCain still leads in Missouri as official results deadline passes

By DAVID A. LIEB/The Associated Press
November 18, 2008 | 6:32 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — His slim lead has shrunk further, but John McCain remains ahead of President-elect Barack Obama as Missouri's local election jurisdictions turn in their official results.

Tuesday was the deadline for local election officials to mail their official results to the Missouri secretary of state.

At the close of business, McCain led Obama by 4,355 votes out of more than 2.9 million cast in the Nov. 4 election.

But the state still was waiting on official results from four jurisdictions, including three of its most populous — St. Louis city and county and Jackson County, where Kansas City is located. Also outstanding was rural Montgomery County, said secretary of state spokesman Ryan Hobart.

The day after the election, McCain led Obama by 5,868 votes. The numbers have changed as local election officials double-check their results and count provisional ballots.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has until Dec. 9 to do her own review and officially certify the results.

After the local election authorities turn in their results, it's unlikely that any additional ballots would be counted. Rather, it's a matter of making sure the precinct-by-precinct numbers are all in place and correctly add up to the totals submitted by local officials.

"Multiple people go through and check them, and if we see any discrepancy in how the results were added up or see anything missing in the certification — like if vote totals are missing (for a particular race) — then we'll go back and ask them for an amended certification," Hobart said.

If McCain's lead holds up, it would mark the first time since 1956 that Missouri's electoral votes have not gone to the winning presidential candidate. That year, Missourians voted for Democrat Adlai Stevenson instead of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower by a margin of 3,984 votes out of more than 1.8 million cast — a 0.22 percentage point margin.

McCain's lead over Obama amounts to a 0.15 percentage point margin.

That would be Missouri's closest percentage gap since 1908, when Republican William Howard Taft defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan by 449 votes out of 716,788 cast — a margin of 0.06 percentage points.

In Missouri's 1860 presidential election, Democrat Stephen Douglas edged out John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party by 429 votes out of 165,518 cast. Because of the smaller vote total, that amounted to a 0.26 percent victory margin. Republican Abraham Lincoln, who won the presidency that year, finished a distant fourth in Missouri.