Missouri has long been considered the bellwether state for its penchant of siding with winners in Presidential elections. That status has slipped a bit this last year as John McCain edged Barack Obama by 3,900 votes.
Alone as the top bellwether state is the unconventional Nevada. Nevada has accurately predicted the winner in every election since 1912, except for 1976. In that election, Gerald Ford edged Jimmy Carter by 8,000 votes.
Of all states to be a bellwether, Nevada seems like an unlikely choice. Since 1990, its population has mushroomed from 1.2 million to 2.7 million. It is heavily urbanized, much above the national average. Prostitution is legal and Casinoâ€™s are the main industry.
How can a state like that have such an uncanny track record?
â€œWeâ€™re No. 1 because weâ€™re not overwhelmingly partisan,â€ Eric Herzik, a University of Reno, political science professor said.
The formerly number one, Missouri now joins Ohio and New Mexico at picking the winner 23 out of the last 25 elections. Missouri also backed the wrong candidate in 1956 when it voted for Stevenson over Eisenhower. Ohio missed in 1944, choosing Dewey over Roosevelt and in 1960 with Nixon over Kennedy. New Mexico missed in 1976 along with Nevada and in 2000 by selecting Gore.