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How a swing congressional district in Missouri became deeply Republican

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Yunyi Dai
Voters in northwest Missouri told KCUR's Carlos Moreno that they believe there aren't any moderate Democrats on the ballot anymore, and that the party no longer represents their values.

Missouri's 6th Congressional District, which covers the entire northern part of the state from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River, has experienced a major political swing in recent decades.

It was 2006 when St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum, then working for the Columbia Daily Tribune, covered the race for the Missouri Senate's 18th District in the northeast part of the state. A Democrat won that election — but today that would be unthinkable because much of northern Missouri has become comfortably conservative.

Rosenbaum points to local politics becoming more nationalized, the rise of conservative media outlets like Fox News and older Democrats dying out as reasons why this district has shifted so strongly.

"Another thing that played a huge role is Missouri no longer being a competitive presidential state," he said. "(It) meant there was less national money to go to build the party in northeast Missouri."

KCUR's Carlos Moreno has been covering the northwest corner of the state, where he said voters there feel disillusioned about the Democratic Party.

"One gentleman I talked to, he said, you know, 'The last Democratic president I voted for was Jimmy Carter and after that I've never voted Democrat again.' And the comment is that they feel the Democrat Party has left them, they didn't leave the Democrats. It's a refrain I hear left and right from people in that area of the district," Moreno said.

Moreno and Rosenbaum joined KCUR's Up To Date to talk about the reporting collaboration between KCUR, St. Louis Public Radio and NPR's Midwest Newsroom to understand the political shift in Missouri's massive 6th District.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
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