Ex-swing state MO became Republican over the past decade, but Democrats seek to reverse trend as midterms near

Missouri’s top race is a faceoff between GOP Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine for retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat, which is considered safely Republican.

Schmitt largely campaigned against President Joe Biden and inflation, characterizing Valentine as an out-of-touch heiress who would side with the Democratic president over Missourians.

Valentine’s campaign catchphrase was “nobody’s senator but yours,” and she slammed Schmitt for voting as a state senator to allow foreign ownership of farmland and over his support for the state’s ban on abortion.

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Missouri was once a swing state but has become solidly Republican over the past decade. Still, Valentine had plenty of money to spend — she’s the daughter of the late longtime Anheuser-Busch chairman, August Busch Jr.

Missouri voters also will elect at least two new congressional representatives to fill the seats of Republicans who both ran unsuccessfully for Senate.

Party control of Missouri’s eight congressional seats appears unlikely to shift from Republicans’ current advantage over Democrats in six districts.

Top issues on the ballot include whether to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. Nearly two-thirds of Missouri voters in 2018 voted to approve medical marijuana use.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

Election Night

Polls close at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET).

How Missouri Votes

Most Missourians vote in person on Election Day.

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Voters can apply to vote absentee by mail only if they meet certain criteria, such as being incapacitated or gone on Election Day.

Decision Notes

AP will tabulate and declare winners in 101 contested elections in Missouri, including seven statewide races and eight U.S. House races. In the 2020 general election, AP first reported results at 8:19 p.m. ET and 99.5% of results by 3 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 5.

AP does not make projections or name apparent or likely winners. Only when AP is fully confident a race has been won – defined most simply as the moment a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory – will we make a call. Should a candidate declare victory – or offer a concession – before AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that AP has not yet declared a winner and explain the reason why we believe the race is too early or too close to call.

The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.

Missouri does not have a mandatory recount law. For offices filed with Secretary of State (president, federal, judicial, state legislature) a recount can be requested if the candidate was defeated by less than 0.5% of votes cast for office. For offices filed with local election authorities, a recount can be requested if a candidate was defeated by less than 1% of votes cast.

The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2%. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.

State Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks at an election-night gathering after winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on August 02, 2022, in St Louis, Missouri. Schmitt will face off against Trudy Busch Valentine for a state senator seat on Tuesday.
(Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

What Else Should I Know?

Q: What Did We Learn From the Primary?

A: Missourians were unwilling to support former Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, tarnished by scandal, who finished third in the GOP Senate race.

Q: What’s Changed Since the Pandemic Election of 2020?

A: Voter ID will be required in November, which could increase the number of provisional ballots cast.

And a recent change in state law allows no-excuse in-person voting from the second Tuesday before Election Day until the day before Election Day. This may shift voting turnout for the general election.

Q: What Do Turnout and Advance Vote Look Like?

A: Voter turnout is projected to be about 2.6 million.

Q: How Long Does Counting Usually Take?

A: Absentee ballots are due by or before Election Day and may begin being processed five days before the election, which speeds things up. Nearly all absentee totals are reported in the first wave of results, which usually appears about 30 minutes after polls close.

Historically, only 0.5% of ballots remain uncounted on Election Day.

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Q: What Are the Pitfalls With Early Returns?

A: The St. Louis region on the eastern side of the state makes up a third of the state’s population but is slow to report results. That means early returns can be skewed Republican since rural areas are overwhelmingly Republican.

Q: What Happens After Tuesday?

A: While unofficial vote tallies are released within hours, local election authorities have until Nov. 22 to audit and verify the election results.

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