Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Thursday, 1 November 2007

State profile: Missouri

Missouri map
Missouri is of prime political importance and its 11 electoral votes will be keenly fought over. It has backed the winner in every presidential race since 1904, except one - President Eisenhower in 1956.

But its patchwork of geography and cultures makes it a difficult state to characterise politically. The two main parties are evenly split in the Senate and the House, and the governor's mansion has changed hands at regular intervals.

Population: 5,842,713 (ranked 18 among states)
Governor: Matt Blunt (R)
Electoral College votes: 11
The rural areas tend to split along Civil War lines: the north-east and north-west, settled by Virginians and southerners goes Democrat, while the south-west leans Republican.

St Louis is a large city with an East Coast feel while Kansas City on the opposite side of the Ozark mountains has more of a mid-western character.

House of Representatives:
4 Democrat, 5 Republican
Senate: 1 Republican, 1 Democrat
The city was instrumental in the development of jazz and has been voted "Barbecue Capital of the World".

In the north of the state, plains of farmland and grain sweep into Iowa while the south is where Mark Twain immortalised the Mississippi river.

In the 19th Century Missouri was a gateway to the west, its railroads branching out across the continent.

2004: Bush 53%, Kerry 46%
2000: Bush 50%, Gore 47%
1996: Clinton 41%, Dole 41%
But its importance has declined with the demise of the railways.

The town of Branson, a centre for country music, remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, with more theatre seats than Broadway.

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Electoral College votes

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