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In Missouri, There's A Tight Race For McCaskill's Senate Seat


On this midterm Election Day, we have been checking in on polling places around the country. And we're going to turn now to the state of Missouri. This is one of several states where a Democratic senator is trying to win re-election two years after their state voted for President Trump. Recent polls show Senator Claire McCaskill is locked in a very tight race against her opponent Republican Josh Hawley. And St. Louis Public Radio's Jeremy Goodwin is at a polling place in St. Louis and joins me. Hey there, Jeremy.

GREENE: Hi, David. Good morning.

JEREMY GOODWIN, BYLINE: Good morning to you. So where exactly are you? And are there voters there?

GOODWIN: Yeah, I'm at the central branch of the public library in downtown St. Louis. That's right around the corner from city hall. It's not far from the arch. And we have a crowded but quiet polling place here. Just not long after 6 a.m. when the polls open, there was a line here about 50 long.


GOODWIN: That has maybe doubled in the time I've been here. But it's a library crowd. People are using our library voices.

GREENE: (Laughter).

GOODWIN: So we've got people, you know, chatting quietly in line. But, you know, the early morning crowd, they might not be fully caffeinated yet.

GREENE: Library rules always apply even on Election Day.

GOODWIN: Yeah, apparently.

GREENE: So, I mean, this is one of the big questions we're going to be following all day today - is there going to be especially high turnout for this midterm? Have you been talking to people about what is getting them out there and deciding to vote this time?

GOODWIN: I have. And I should say Missouri election officials have predicted a high turnout. They're saying - they're predicting maybe as much as 55 percent of registered voters, which would be the highest turnout for a midterm here since 1994 - of course, the famous wave election in President Clinton's first term.


GOODWIN: There are several local questions on the ballot. There are three medical marijuana related questions. But what I've heard from people so far is the Senate race. People are very activated by the McCaskill re-election effort. And that's the number one thing that people are telling me when I ask them about, you know, what candidate or issue sent them out today.

GREENE: And what about the national implications potentially of this race? I mean, voters you're talking to, do they recognize that this McCaskill-Hawley race could play a role in, you know, determining control of the Senate? Do Missouri voters like having that spotlight? Or are they really focusing on these two candidates and what they mean for the state of Missouri?

GOODWIN: It really does sound almost like I'm speaking with them about a presidential election. They're not bringing up local issues to me. They're saying things like, I'm here to save the republic.


GOODWIN: So people who feel like there's a lot at stake in this election.

GREENE: And, I mean, so far supporters of McCaskill, supporters of Hawley or a real combination?

GOODWIN: I'd be having - I'd be trying to infer further political leanings, you know, from certain factors. They haven't necessarily identified a particular candidate. They were just talking about that being the issue that brought them out here.

GREENE: Something very refreshing about just having general political conversations without getting one candidate or another - that must be nice since we're so used to asking people how they're going to vote.

GOODWIN: You know what? The air is very clear here. You know, it's something to think of when we think about lines potentially getting backed up - is the ballot is very long here. In St. Louis County, there is some 45 questions on the ballot. In another one of the rural counties, they're using ballots that are 8 1/2 by 19 with nary a spot of inkless paper on either side of them.


GOODWIN: So as we get into some of the more dense population, the more dense times of the day, we might start looking at lines getting longer and being a little more difficult to get through and do your business here.

GREENE: All right, Jeremy Goodwin of St. Louis Public Radio - one of the reporters we're checking in with as we look at polling places around the country on this Election Day. Jeremy, thanks.

GOODWIN: Thank you so much, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeremy Goodwin