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United States Senate election in Missouri, 2006

United States Senate election in Missouri, 2006

November 7, 2006

Nominee Claire McCaskill Jim Talent
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,055,255 1,006,941
Percentage 49.6% 47.3%

County results

U.S. Senator before election

Jim Talent

Elected U.S. Senator

Claire McCaskill

The 2006 United States Senate election in Missouri was held on November 7, 2006, to decide who would serve as senator for Missouri between January 3, 2007, and January 3, 2013. The incumbent was Republican Jim Talent. Talent was elected in a special election in 2002 when he narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Jean Carnahan. Carnahan had been appointed to the Senate seat following the posthumous election of her husband Mel Carnahan, who had died in a plane crash shortly before the 2000 election. Talent's Democratic opponent was Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill. Early on the morning of November 8, Talent conceded defeat to McCaskill, having faced considerable political headwinds. Talent lost the election with 47% of the vote, to 50% of the vote for McCaskill.


  • Candidates 1
    • Democratic 1.1
    • Libertarian 1.2
    • Progressive 1.3
    • Republican 1.4
  • Factors 2
    • State politics 2.1
    • Early campaign 2.2
    • Significance 2.3
    • November ballot propositions 2.4
      • Embryonic stem cell research 2.4.1
      • Minimum wage 2.4.2
  • Fundraising 3
  • Commercial controversy 4
    • Overview 4.1
    • Reactions 4.2
  • Polling 5
  • Results 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9







The election was always expected to be very close, which seems fitting for a seat that has changed hands twice, both by very narrow margins, within the last six years. In 2000, the late Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Senator John Ashcroft 50% to 48%. Two years later in a special election held for the seat, incumbent Senator Jean Carnahan lost an even closer election to former Congressman Talent, 50% to 49%.

State politics

Missouri was seen as the nation's bellwether state throughout the 20th century. It has voted for the winner of every presidential election since 1900, except for 1956 (when the state narrowly favored Adlai Stevenson over Dwight D. Eisenhower), 2008 (when it narrowly favored John McCain over Barack Obama), and 2012 (when it strongly favored Mitt Romney over Barack Obama). Missouri's bellwether status was due to the fact that it not only voted for the electoral victor, but that its returns usually mirrored national returns.

The state itself is a central state, bordered by both the edges of Southern and Presidency 51% to 48%, he carried Missouri 53% to 46%. This trend had begun in 2000, when Bush lost the national popular vote to Al Gore 47% to 48% but still won Missouri, 50% to 47%. Bush's victory also saw Republicans triumph in several statewide contests; Senator Kit Bond was re-elected by a decisive 56% to 43% margin and Matt Blunt won the election for Governor, narrowly defeating state auditor Claire McCaskill 51% to 48%. The GOP also captured control of the state legislature for the first time in eighty years.

Early campaign

Talent, anticipating a tough re-election battle and attempting to dissuade challengers, had accumulated a large campaign fund.[1] For most of 2005, he had no opposition. State Senator Chuck Graham had briefly entered the race early in the year, but dropped out soon after. However, on August 30, 2005, Democrat Claire McCaskill announced her intention to run for Talent's Senate seat.

McCaskill started with a large financial disadvantage, but she was also an experienced candidate with high name recognition McCaskill had run two successful campaigns for state auditor. She was also a candidate for governor in 2004, where she defeated the incumbent Democratic Governor Bob Holden in the primary election but lost with 48% of the vote in the general election.

Both Talent and McCaskill faced unknowns in their respective primaries on August 8, 2006, and defeated them soundly.

Talent started statewide advertising on August 1, 2006, forcing some observers to suggest that Talent was on the ropes and therefore needed to reassert his image (damaged recently by his "flip-flopping" on stem cell research, his opposition to raising the minimum wage and a general feeling of antipathy from the body politic regarding his lack of notable achievements while in the Senate) and pull ahead in a statistical dead heat.

McCaskill and Talent agreed to debate each other on Meet the Press on October 8, 2006.[2]


The Missouri contest was seen as vitally important to control of the United States Senate; as a toss-up election between two strong candidates, the race was expected to attract a lot of interest as well as money spent on ads and turning out supporters. If Talent won, then a Democratic takeover of the U.S. Senate depended upon victories in Tennessee, where the Republican Bob Corker won, and Virginia, where Democrat Jim Webb won; the Democrats needed to win six seats to take control of the chamber with 51 seats. To do this, they would need to retain their 19 incumbent seats, win the four Republican-held seats of Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania (where Democratic chances seem above 50%, and Democrats won all 4.) and two of the following three "toss-up" races: Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia.

November ballot propositions

A June 19–22, 2006 Research 2000 poll shows Talent's favorability rating is 47%-46%, with 7% having no opinion. Soon after a St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll was released showing McCaskill with 49% favorability to Talent's 43%.

It is believed that statewide ballot issues drove the November 2006 vote, Talent was on the opposite of the majority of voters in this poll on just about every issue: 66% of Missouri voters favor raising the minimum wage to $6.50 an hour; 62% of Missouri voters favor raising taxes to replace Medicaid funding cut by the current Republican Governor, Matt Blunt; 54% oppose a law that will require all Missourians to show a photo ID before they vote; 58% favor campaign donation limitations; and 66% favor restoring Medicaid coverage to about 90,000 Missourians who lost coverage when Blunt and the Republican legislature tightened eligibility requirements.

Perhaps most importantly, 62% favor a ballot proposal that would allow all types of embryonic stem cell research allowed under federal law - a measure Talent recently announced that he is against.[3]

Embryonic stem cell research

Since joining the Senate in 2002, Talent had supported federal legislation that would ban stem cell research. This included co-sponsoring a bill (S.658)[4] sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback which would ban all forms of human cloning, including the cloning and destruction of human embryos.

On February 10, 2006, Talent withdrew his support for the bill,[5] citing the need to balance research and protection against human cloning. This move followed criticism by Talent's Democratic opponent in the 2006 election, Claire McCaskill, as well as pressure from Missouri business interests that oppose restrictions on stem cell research. Though this reversal was widely criticized as being due to politics,[6] Talent told the Associated Press, "The technology is changing all the time and so I'm always considering whether there is a better way to strike the balance.".[7] Talent suggests that moral concerns might be put to rest through a possible future scientific breakthrough - replicating embryonic stem cells without the use of cloned embryos.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2 would amend the state constitution and allow, in line with federal law, stem cell research and treatment.[8] On May 1, 2006, Talent announced his opposition to the proposed ballot-initiative.[9] Stem cell research and treatment is working up to be a divisive issue for many Republicans and is taking a particular prominence in Missouri.[10] In the senate, he subsequently voted against expanding federal funds for embryonic stem cell research in July 2006.

Minimum wage

Proposition B would raise the minimum wage in the state to $6.50 per hour, or to the level of the federal minimum wage if that is higher, with subsequent adjustments for inflation.[8] This is another issue where Talent was opposed to majority opinion in Missouri,[11] which Democrats hoped would hurt him at the polls.[12]


Talent had a huge cash-on-hand advantage over McCaskill. Because of the way FEC filing works, Talent's numbers include the money he raised during his 2002 special election campaign. Totals are through July 19.

Candidate Funds Raised[13] Cash On-Hand[13]
Jim Talent (R) $19,602,725 $6,921,577
Claire McCaskill (D) $4,572,707 $2,684,766

Commercial controversy


Actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, frequently appears in political advertising to support candidates with a history of supporting embryonic stem cell research. In 2004, Fox appeared in a television commercial for Republican Arlen Specter's 2004 Senate campaign.[14] In the commercial, sponsored by Arlen's re-election campaign, Fox says Arlen "gets it" and Arlen's voice is heard saying "there is hope."

In late October, he appeared in a television campaign commercial for Claire McCaskill. Her opponent, Talent, is against both taxpayer- and privately funded embryonic stem cell research, and in the commercial Fox correctly states that Talent wants to criminalize such research.

The commercial has made national headlines.[15] The commercial has a statistical impact on the way voters vote.[16]


Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio talk show host, commented on the TV commercial, saying that Fox was "really shameless" and that he was "either off his medication or acting."[17] Limbaugh was speculating that Fox may have intentionally not taken his medication. According to the Washington Post, Limbaugh also has told his listeners that Fox was "exaggerating the effects of the disease... he's moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act."[18][19]

Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist, has stated her opinion, "Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease. Any other interpretation is misinformed."[20]

Limbaugh followed up on October 25, 2006, saying "When you wade into political life you have every right to say what you want, but you cannot in turn argue that no one has the right to take you on."

On October 26, 2006, Fox said, "The irony of it is that I was too medicated," Fox told Katie Couric, adding that his jumpy condition as he spoke to her reflected "a dearth of medication — not by design. I just take it, and it kicks in when it kicks in."[21] He further laughed, "That's funny — the notion that you could calculate it for effect."


Source Date McCaskill (D) Talent (R) Gilmour (L)
OnPoint Polling and Research November 6, 2006 49% 46%
Polimetrix November 6, 2006 50% 50%
SurveyUSA November 6, 2006 50% 44% 3%
SurveyUSA November 5, 2006 51% 42% 4%
USA Today/Gallup November 5, 2006 49% 45%
Rasmussen November 5, 2006 48% 49%
Mason-Dixon/MSNBC-McClatchy November 3, 2006 46% 45%
Rasmussen November 2, 2006 49% 48%
Reuters/Zogby November 2, 2006 46% 43% 6%
SurveyUSA October 31, 2006 49% 46% 2%
CNN/Opinion Research Corporation October 31, 2006 49% 49%
Rasmussen October 30, 2006 48% 47%
Research 2000 October 28, 2006 47% 47% 2%
Rasmussen October 27, 2006 46% 48%
Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg October 24, 2006 45% 48%
SurveyUSA October 24, 2006 45% 48% 2%
Mason-Dixon/McClatchy-MSNBC October 24, 2006 46% 43%
Bennett, Petts & Blumenthal (D) October 13, 2006 48% 43%
Rasmussen October 13, 2006 44% 45%
SurveyUSA October 12, 2006 51% 42% 3%
Rasmussen October 7, 2006 44% 43%
USA Today/Gallup October 5, 2006 48% 45%
Reuters/Zogby October 5, 2006 39% 43%
Mason-Dixon/MSNBC October 2, 2006 43% 43%
Zogby/WSJ September 28, 2006 45% 47%
Rasmussen September 15, 2006 45% 42%
SurveyUSA September 14, 2006 48% 47% 1%
Zogby/WSJ September 11, 2006 45% 49%
USA Today/Gallup September 5, 2006 44% 50%
Research 2000 September 1, 2006 47% 46% 2%
Zogby/WSJ August 28, 2006 45% 50%
Rasmussen August 15, 2006 44% 46%
SurveyUSA August 15, 2006 47% 46% 2%
Rasmussen July 31, 2006 45% 42%
Zogby/WSJ July 24, 2006 45% 49%
Rasmussen July 20, 2006 45% 42%
Rasmussen June 27, 2006 42% 42%
Research 2000 June 24, 2006 49% 43%
Zogby/WSJ June 21, 2006 44% 49%
Rasmussen May 8, 2006 40% 43%
Rasmussen April 4, 2006 42% 41%
Zogby/WSJ March 31, 2006 45% 48%
Rasmussen March 6, 2006 43% 40%
Rasmussen February 8, 2006 41% 46%
Research 2000 January 21, 2006 47% 44%
Rasmussen January 2, 2006 46% 43%
Rasmussen November 9, 2005 47% 45%
Rasmussen September 1, 2005 46% 46%


General election results
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Claire McCaskill 1,055,255 49.6 +0.9
Republican Jim Talent (incumbent) 1,006,941 47.3 -2.5
Libertarian Frank Gilmour 47,792 2.2 +1.2
Progressive Lydia Lewis 18,383 0.9 n/a
Write-ins 88 0.0 n/a
Majority 48,314 2.3
Turnout 2,128,459
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

See also


  1. ^ OpenSecrets
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2] s. 658, "A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit human cloning", introduced March 17, 2005
  5. ^ Kansas City Star
  6. ^ "Stem-Cell Dilemmas: Senator Talent believes there is an 'ethically untroubling' option on embryonic research. Will it cost him re-election?", Eleanor Clift, Newsweek, February 17, 2006
  7. ^ "Stem cell battle emerging as key issue in Missouri Senate race", Sam Hananel, AP, January 25, 2006
  8. ^ a b 2006 Ballot Measures, Missouri, Secretary of State
  9. ^ Kristen Hinman (July 17, 2006). "A wedge issue that helps Democrats: Stem cell research is dividing Missouri's GOP". 
  10. ^ "Democrats see stem cell research as political tool", Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, April 25, 2006
  11. ^ "June 2006 poll of Missouri voters, statewide issues". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 24, 2006. 
  12. ^ Lauren Phillips (September 29, 2006). "Talent’s Bid for Second Term Just Like His First — a Tossup". 
  13. ^ a b Congressional Elections: Missouri Senate Race: 2006 Cycle | OpenSecrets
  14. ^ Campaign 2004: Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race provides clear choices Post-Gazette. October 18, 2004
  15. ^ Actor Fox sparks debate, support for stem cells October 26, 2006
  16. ^ The Michael J. Fox Effect October 26, 2006, U. S. News and World Report.
  17. ^ "Topic Galleries". Chicago Tribune. 
  18. ^ Montgomery, David (October 25, 2006). "Rush Limbaugh On the Offensive Against Ad With Michael J. Fox". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  19. ^ Olbermann Gives Us The Visual To Limbaugh's Attack On Michael J. Fox | Crooks and Liars
  20. ^ WP: Limbaugh mocks Michael J. Fox ad - Politics - Washington Post -
  21. ^ Fox: I wasn't off meds in political ads. Associated Press, October 26, 2006

External links

  • Campaign site for Claire McCaskill
  • Campaign site for Jim Talent
  • Campaign site for Frank Gilmour
  • Campaign site for Lydia Lewis
Preceded by
Christopher Bond
Missouri U.S. Senate elections
Succeeded by
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