Missouri 6th District
The rolling fields along the Missouri River in northwest Missouri were settled in a rush in the late 19th century, and they lost people for most of the 20th century. Fewer hands were needed on farms than half a century ago, far fewer than a century ago. In 1940, this area had one of the largest meatpacking operations in the world, but the meatpacking business for years generated no new jobs here. Barge traffic on the Missouri has all but disappeared, a victim of low water levels that are the result of drought as well as recreational uses upstream and court rulings in favor of environmentalists. Just as Kansas City was the starting place for many wagon trains heading west, the river town of St. Joseph was the starting point for the Pony Express and its roughly 10-day transport of mail to Sacramento. Today, St. Joe is the biggest town north of Kansas City. With its meatpacking jobs as a draw, this has become the fastest-growing Hispanic community in the nation, with a 21% increase between July 2006 and July 2007; that has led to fear of law-enforcement raids among immigrants. The counties of northwest Missouri, aside from those in the Kansas City metro area, had 508,000 people in 1900, 452,000 in 1940 and 318,000 in 1990. But in the 1990s, the local economy began to perk up a little, and the number climbed to 330,000; some counties that had been losing population since 1900 started to gain. Biopharming—the use of genetically modified crops, such as rice, to grow medications—has become a growth industry in some of these rural communities. In 2008, Rock Port became the first area town to use only wind energy.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 6th Congressional District of Missouri takes in all of the counties in northwest Missouri plus part of metro Kansas City—Clay and Platte counties and a small portion of Jackson County east of Independence, including Blue Springs. The Kansas City area casts about half the district’s votes. The historic political tradition here was mostly Democratic, but it has been tempered by dislike for national Democrats’ cultural liberalism. This was strong Perot country in 1992; Bill Clinton carried it with a plurality in 1992 and 1996. But the rural vote here, as across the nation, has moved toward Republicans. George W. Bush carried the district with 53% in 2000 and 57% in 2004. John McCain won all of the counties north of Kansas City, except for Buchanan, which he lost by 54 votes.