Pick up the votes in Kansas City and St. Louis and forget about the rest of the state.
At one time, that was the Democratic party's recipe for victory in Missouri. In 1992, the last time I can remember Mel Carnahan campaigning in this corner of the state was March 30 when he spoke at a Democratic meeting at a Carthage restaurant. He was still able to parlay the Kansas City/St. Louis strategy, and the scandal surrounding Republican nominee Bill Webster to a win in the general election.
When Claire McCaskill ran against Matt Blunt in 2004 for governor, she employed the same strategy and it almost worked again. Two things hurt her- the shortsighted decision of Sen. John Kerry to pull his people out of Missouri, and a large outpouring of money from Matt Blunt's father's lobbyist friends on K Street.
The St. Louis/Kansas City strategy may have won a few elections, but it has contributed to the almost complete disappearance of the Democratic party in some southwest Missouri communities. And you can energize your base and build on it if you only make appearances here well before the election is underway.
That's why Claire McCaskill's decision to hold her victory party in Springfield Tuesday night was an important, symbolic one. It would have been easy for Ms. McCaskill to have spent the day in St. Louis, Jefferson City, or Kansas City, but after voting Tuesday morning in Kirkwood, she spent the rest of the day in southwest Missouri.
She helped open the Democratic party headquarters in Joplin by attending a luncheon there, visited polling places at schools in Joplin and Springfield, then held her victory party in Springfield last night.
It remains to be seen whether this new strategy will be successful, but Democrats do have some solid issues to run on that should resonate with many southwest Missourians, including stem cell research and the minimum wage.
Ms. McCaskill is not likely to garner a majority of the votes in southwest Missouri, but then again, she doesn't have to. If she can increase her vote total by five or 10 percent in this region, something which is within the realm of possibility, then the Kansas City/St. Louis strategy should take her the rest of the way.