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banner Friday, 7 January, 2000, 17:49 GMT
Missouri

Missouri is of prime political importance and its 11 electoral votes will be keenly fought after. Except for President Eisenhower in 1956, it voted for every 20th century presidential winner.

Key facts
Population: 5,358,692 (ranked 15 among states)
Governor: Mel Carnahan (D)
Electoral College votes: 11
But it is a difficult state to characterise as its central location gives it a patchwork of geography and cultures. 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.

In 1996 rural Missouri as a whole went more Republican than it did in 1992, although the major cities St Louis and Kansas City stayed strongly Democrat.

1998 Congress
House of Representatives: 5 Democrats, 4 Republicans
Senate: 2 Republicans
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. It was instrumental in the development of jazz and twice 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.

Voting record
1996: Clinton 41%, Dole 41%
1992: Clinton 44%, Bush 34%, Perot 22%
1988: Bush 52%, Dukakis 48%
In the 19th century Missouri was a gateway to the west, its railroads branching out across the continent.

Its importance has declined although Missouri's airport is the focus of TWA's network and the town of Branson, a centre for country music, is the second most popular tourist destination in the United States.

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