What Happened in Missouri?

Count us among those who think Barack Obama’s comeback win in Missouri was a moral victory, at best. The difference between losing by 1 percent and winning by 1 percent is negligible, but Obama still gets to brag about winning a key swing state, no matter how close the vote was. So, given that the AP called Missouri for Clinton earlier in the night, what the hell happened?

Nearly the same thing that happened in 2006. Claire McCaskill, Missouri’s junior senator and an outspoken Obama advocate, was badly trailing her Republican opponent as election night wound on in the midterm elections. After making gains across the country, it looked like the Democrats were going to fall one senator short of gaining a majority. But then the returns started gushing in from the metro areas and McCaskill mounted a comeback, eventually beating GOP incumbent Jim Talent by a couple percentage points.

Flashforward to tonight, where the AP calls the race for Clinton, then uncalls it, then recalls it—this time for Obama. Thanks to our friends over at the Electoral Map blog , it’s pretty easy to see where Obama’s support comes from—metro areas. Obama sometimes doubled Clinton’s support in densely populated areas, which ensured him the narrow win.

A similar process occurred for the Republicans , whose delegate assignment process was winner-take-all. Mike Huckabee led for most of the night thanks to rural support and then withered under John McCain’s metro returns. When it’s not 2 a.m., we’ll try to call Missouri to see why the metro polls always seem to come in so late. Hillary, meanwhile, can request a recount in the state, but why would she? It’s not like that one percentage point matters. Mike Huckabee, on the other hand …