BACKGROUND: There's something that makes sense about Barack Obama coming to Columbia, Missouri.
After all, Columbia is widely seen as a blue refuge of sorts in the red ocean that is central Missouri. And given the supposed importance of Missouri in last year's election, it seemed only natural for Obama to raise spirits in friendly territory.
Obama's visit to Columbia was indeed impressive as spectacle. No question, it's unforgettable for tens of thousands of people to cram into a college quadrangle to see a presidential contender. Even though I thought Obama made a more impressive speech in Rolla, his short visit to Columbia seemed on the surface to electrify Columbia's Democratic electorate.
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The truth is that Obama didn't really need to win Missouri to become president. He was already poised to win traditionally red states like Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina. And he was pulling ahead in traditional swing states like Ohio and Florida. That assumption came true when Obama narrowly lost the Show Me State to John McCain on Election Day and still won the election.
Even though Obama prevailed in places like St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia, his campaign faltered in outstate Missouri. That happened even though candidates such as Jay Nixon, Robin Carnahan and Chris Koster did reasonably well in those areas.
Moreover, Obama's stop in Columbia didn't help Judy Baker beat Blaine Luetkemeyer in the Ninth District congressional race. And though the GOP lost a hotly-contested race for a state representative seat, Republicans surprisingly won a state Senate seat for the first time in a generation.
No doubt Obama's visit was an exciting event. But in terms of impact, the shindig showed that Obama's coattails in Boone County only extended so far.
FUN FACT: I once saw a "Rednecks for Obama" bumper sticker on a Toyota Prius while riding with my cousin in St. Louis. I'm not trying to stereotype here, but what are the chances that a so-called "redneck" would drive a Prius?