Show-Me State Not Shown Much Love, Gives Little In Return

Tuesday’s presidential primary will award no delegates to its victor. Though Missouri has long been viewed as an accurate reading of the nation’s temperature toward candidates, few officially sanctioned efforts have been made on behalf of the GOP field to garner support in the state. Fittingly, few private efforts have been made on their behalves either. In their absence, it’s difficult to gauge just where Missouri stands on the Republican candidates.

Paul Sancya / The Associated Press

In lieu of direct campaign efforts, private donations are the clearest indicator of public support. By that measure, too, though, Missourians appear largely disinterested in the race. Data released by the Federal Election Committee shows Mitt Romney at the top of the statewide donation list with more than $600,000 raised. Over half a million dollars may seem like no small sum, but in the context of Romney’s overall fundraising, which amounted to $57 million last year, it’s little more than pocket change.

In an analysis of fundraising data disclosed at the behest of the FEC, the Washington Post reported that a quarter of the money tied to Romney’s campaign and its affiliated super PAC, Restore Our Future in 2011, came from the pockets of only 41 individuals.

Interestingly, the same trend is evident in local donation data: Just four Boone County donors have collectively contributed $3,850 to Romney, with $2,500 of that sum supplied by one individual alone. Romney trails only Pres. Barack Obama in dollars raised locally, which makes sense considering Boone county’s high concentration of university students, who are demographically more likely to vote to the left.

Students at MU may also account for a surprising surge of financial support for Ron Paul, who sits at number three on both the state and county lists but, contrary to a vast statewide gap, has earned only $600 less than Romney in local donations. In contrast to Romney’s short but generous list of donors, Paul has been on the receiving end of donations from 13 individuals, the largest of which amounts to $1,500 made in several installments throughout 2011.

Small business owners, too, seem to be casting their lot with the Texas congressman. His platform includes provisions to repeal the tip tax and cut unnecessary regulations on small businesses and entrepreneurs, which may account for the franchise and and business owners as well as employees who work on commission populating his list of donors.

Though he is running as a Republican, some local Libertarians will also cast their vote in Paul’s favor this primary season. A group headed by Bruce Summers demonstrated at Personalized Computing on Monday in an effort to supplement their niche voting bloc.

If history does indeed rhyme as Mark Twain claims, however, Libertarian support may not be of much help. The group came out in low numbers in 2008, and Dee Givens, an affiliate of the Missouri Libertarian Party, reported that local Libertarians will in large part be supporting Gary Johnson.

Funnily, the candidates pulling the bulk of financial support from Missourians aren’t faring as well with hypothetical ballots. Public Policy Polling followed up data projecting Rick Santorum, who spoke in town Friday, as leader of the pack both in popular vote and approval rating with a second survey Tuesday indicating that he maintained his majority over the weekend.

Could bellwether Missouri mark the dawn of a Great Santorum Awakening as conservatives search for a Romney alternative, or is the absence of Newt Gingrich, who seems to have filled that role since the first of the year, just a convenient route to a superficial win?

Your turn, readers.

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