Election 2016

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster became the first Democrat endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau for a statewide office.
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Nine years ago, Chris Koster was a state senator, a former Cass County prosecutor and a rising star within the Missouri Republican Party. Many speculated he would eventually run for governor.

And now he is running for governor, but as a Democrat.

Koster switched parties in 2007,  a stunning move that has set the course for his unusual political career.  He remains the highest-profile politician in Missouri, at least in modern times, to have made such a move

Jason Kander, left, and Roy Blunt
Carolina Hidalgo and Sen. Blunt's Flickr page

In a sign of how competitive Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest has become, the two major candidates – Republican incumbent Roy Blunt and Democrat Jason Kander – held dueling roundtables with area military veterans.

Wednesday’s events were intended to underscore how both men are highlighting their armed services credentials, and emphasizing their concern about the problems facing the nation’s military.

Live fact check asset
Courtesy NPR

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton face off in the final presidential debate Wednesday night at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, is live annotating the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are highlighted, followed by context and fact check from NPR reporters and editors.

students try out a voting machine in Jennings
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Just because they’re too young to vote doesn’t mean that students at Jennings Junior High lack strong opinions about the presidential candidates.

At an assembly held at the district’s high school Tuesday, the students got to take part in a town-hall style mock debate, then cast ballots at a real electronic voting machine — if their credentials weren’t turned away.

Hillary Clinton St. Louis union dec. 2015
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is sending $500, 000 into Missouri to aid U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander and gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Monday the campaign is assisting Koster and Kander even though it acknowledges that Republican Donald Trump is expected to carry the state. The money is to be spent on radio ads, fliers and digital advertising.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander at state Democrats' annual Truman Dinner. Campaign aide Chris Hayden is to his right.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the humble opinions of national pundits that monitor congressional races, Jason Kander pretty much came out nowhere to get on their national radar.

The Washington Post, Roll Call and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball recently declared that Missouri’s U.S. Senate race was a “toss-up.” And these prognosticators, in general, are very surprised that Kander made the race close. For instance: When Roll Call ranked Kander as the best Senate challenger of the 2016 cycle, the publication called the development “remarkable” for a race “that most analysts considered a second-tier contest when the summer began.”

The Missouri Capitol building.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For roughly a decade, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee was a firm opponent of campaign donation limits. When he voted to get rid of contribution curbs as a Republican state senator in 2006 and a Democratic state senator in 2008, he believed that an unlimited system would give Missourians a better sense of where money came from and where it was going.

But  Chris Koster abandoned his long-standing opposition to donation limits earlier this year and threw his support behind a proposed constitutional amendment that limits contributions to $2,600 for state-based offices. He says that the current system where million-dollar donations are relatively commonplace is completely out of control.

Yard signs in favor of Amendment 4, which would bar state sales taxes on services
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

As the Missouri Realtors group sees it, it’s just being proactive.

The state of Missouri doesn’t generally impose sales taxes on services. But some legislators and political donors, notably Rex Sinquefield, have for years floated the idea of expanding the state’s sales tax so they can cut or eliminate Missouri’s income tax.

Missouri Realtors and its allied groups want to kill that notion in its tracks.

stacks of money

Excluding the independent spending by outside groups, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander is still out-raising the man he hopes to defeat, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. But in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate contests, Blunt is the bigger spender as the duo head into their final weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

The latest campaign finance reports – made public by both contenders a few days early – show that Kander has collected just over $3 million since July.  That compares to close to $1.9 million for Blunt.

Robin Smith October 2016
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday, St. Louis on the Air welcomed the Democratic nominee for Missouri secretary of state: Robin Smith. We have also invited to Republican nominee, Jay Ashcroft, to be on the program before the Nov. 8 election.

Update: Jay Ashcroft will be a guest on St. Louis on the Air on Thursday, October 20.

Attorneys for Bruce Franks, Penny Hubbard, and employees with the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners examine absentee ballot envelopes during a court hearing on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Area voter registration deadlines are fast approaching. Missouri voters must submit a completed application by the end of business on Oct. 12.

Stephanie Fleming, director of communications for Missouri's secretary of state says people can register in person, by mail or online.

Students make signs on campus at Washington University before the start of the presidential debate on Sunday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It took just a few minutes for the Affordable Care Act to feature in Sunday’s presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump as Trump quickly blamed the legislation for the rising cost of health care.

“When I watch what’s happening with some horrible things like Obamacare where your health insurance and health care is going up by numbers that are astronomical,” Trump said, adding that costs have gone up as much as 71 percent.

The Trump campaign has not said where he obtained his figures. But even though premiums are rising, the effect is concentrated on plans sold on the individual market not those that are provided through an employer. 

Jason Kander, left, and Roy Blunt
Carolina Hidalgo and Sen. Blunt's Flickr page

Missouri TV viewers may see a deluge of new ads focusing on the U.S. Senate contest — and those ads may not be from the candidates’ campaigns.

In the wake of Sunday’s presidential debate, political activists in both parties privately say they expect more outside money to be spent in the state shortly on behalf of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

Why? Because of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's latest national surge in the polls. 

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks with reporters before the start of the presidential debate at Washington University. (Oct. 9, 2016)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time during their Sunday night debate dwelling on vulgar comments, leaked speeches, personal income tax payments and tweets of days past.

But one thing the two didn’t talk about at all during their Washington University showdown was Ferguson.

Reporters interview surrogates following the presidential debate at Washington University.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Inside a spin room packed to the gills with reporters, campaign surrogates tried to put their best face forward about the debate.

“The first 20 minutes started out a little rocky,” said U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, a Republican from Salem, Missouri. “But the next hour and 10 minutes was focused on a lot of policy and issues that Americans are really paying a lot of attention to: health care, taxation, the Supreme Court vacancies. So I thought that was pretty good.”

But Smith’s colleague, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, had a much dimmer view of Trump’s performance.

Washington University cheerleaders perform on MSNBC before the start of the presidential debate on Sunday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In a debate that started without a handshake and with very sharp attacks, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ended saying something they admired about the other. They also shook hands.

Sometimes the presidential candidates answered audience questions directly. But on taxes, on Syria, on leaked emails and uncovered video tape, they frequently used their time to try to make predetermined points.

All throughout the day on Sunday, people in and around Washington University became immersed in the events leading up to and following the debate.  

Reny Alfonso, 7, carries American flag pinwheels at the "Forward Together" bus tour kickoff event outside the Missouri History Museum Sunday afternoon.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio has three reporters and a photographer on Washington University’s campus to document and report on what's happening before the second presidential debate of 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Read below for reverse chronological updates from throughout the day on Washington University's campus. You can also stay up-to-the-minute updated by following our Twitter list, embedded below but also available here.

September 17, 2016 - Media Center banners go up and carpet is installed, Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University | Flickr

On Sunday, Oct. 9, the eyes of the world turned to St. Louis as Washington University hosts the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. We’ve laid out some of the things you need to know ahead of the debate (like road closures and the cost of such an event) here, but we’re also working to bring you updates day-of from our reporters and producers with St. Louis Public Radio.

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed some of the news stories on listener’s minds with those who produced the stories.

There is no act more central to a democracy than voting. Electionland is a project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election.
Courtesy ProPublica

Editor’s note: St. Louis Public Radio is participating in this national reporting initiative. You can help us monitor the voting process. Whether you are voting absentee, or waiting to go to your polling place on Nov. 8, you may sign up here to let us know about your voting experience.

Election Day is still a month away, but some Americans are already casting ballots. About 20 states and the District of Columbia have early voting programs, several of which have already begun. It’s estimated that about one-third of the country will have voted by the time polls open on Nov. 8.

The Electionland coalition is also beginning its work. We’ve started looking for problems that prevent eligible voters from exercising their right to cast a ballot before the polls close. Using a combination of social media posts, data about web search trends, and call center records from a coalition of election lawyers, we’ll be looking at the process of voting to help make sure that nobody is shut out because of long lines, improper procedures or inadequate resources.

A portion of the audience at a 2016 Washington University student debate. They also are among the millennial voters that candidates seek to attract.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Reaching younger voters may be one benefit of using college campuses for presidential debates.  Which, no doubt, is one of the goals for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as they prepare to take the stage Sunday at Washington University.

A recent campus debate at Wash U between the college Republicans and Democrats offers a window into the candidates’ dilemma, as they seek to woo millennials, many of whom don’t align themselves with either major party.

Debate signage installed on the front of the Athletics Complex, Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University | Flickr

Updated Thursday, Oct. 6 at 1:20 p.m. with traffic closure details  Last Monday night featured the first presidential debate of the year and the first time Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off one-on-one over plans and policy. It was the most-watched debate in televised debate history.

But what about the second round? In addition to a different format, a town hall, the second debate is at Washington University. It has hosted more debates than any other institution in history.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As Washington University gets ready to host the second presidential debate on Sunday night, 18 of the school's freshmen are not only learning about how the face-offs affect who will win the White House. They’re also excited to cast their first presidential ballots.

In class, history Professor Peter Kastor and his students engage in lively debates themselves, about how the candidate sessions shape the election. And, Kastor said, they have many questions for him.

In just about a month, Election Day 2016 will be here. By the end of Nov. 8, Americans will most likely know who will be the nation’s next president.

But will they be happy?

Probably not, based on what many sources in our Public Insight Network have told us.

St. Louis County's temporary absentee-voting office is in Maplewood's Deer Creek shopping center.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

With Missouri’s largest bloc of votes, St. Louis County often makes or breaks elections, determining which statewide candidates claim victory, and which ballot issues become law.

But with a St. Louis judge imposing more restrictions on absentee ballots, the impact in St. Louis County is significant – and may have statewide repercussions.

Peter Kastor, a professor of history and American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air on Tuesday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Monday night’s debate had plenty of drama for the record number of viewers who tuned in to watch presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the first of three televised debates.

Peter Kastor, a professor of history and American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air on Tuesday to both dissect the debate and compare it to other historical moments in televised debate history.

Throughout this presidential election year, St. Louis Public Radio has been assessing the political mood of likely voters.

In a recent query — What is your political mood, now? — we learned that voters still have very strong — and mostly negative — emotions. A review of the reasons behind those moods shows that among those who responded to a Public Insight Network query, many were equally unhappy with the Democratic and Republican nominees.

Bruce Franks Jr. speaks to his supporters after finding out he won the Sept. 16 special election for Missouri’s 78th District House seat.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:45 p.m. with comments from Franks. -- The second time is the charm for Bruce Franks.

Franks, an activist and small business owner, defeated Penny Hubbard Friday night in a court-ordered re-do Democratic primary in the 78th House District.

78th District Democratic candidate Bruce Franks goes door-to-door earlier this week in support of his bid against state Rep. Penny Hubbard.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Inside a cavernous office space on Cherokee Street in south St. Louis, Bruce Franks’ die-hard supporters are prepping to go door-to-door for a candidate that’s captured the attention of St. Louis’ political community.

These volunteers are getting pointers on how to hand out door-hangers and convince 78th District residents that Franks is the one to represent them in the Missouri House over incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard.

On the surface, the stakes seem low: The winner, assuming they can defeat Republican Erik Shelquist in November, gets a seat in a Missouri House that Republicans dominate.

Bruce Franks talks with Jane Dueker, the attorney for his opponent Penny Hubbard, after oral arguments on Sept. 12, 2016.
Pool photo by Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Updated 4:00 p.m. Sept. 13 with comments from Jane Dueker. — ​The  re-vote in the 78th House District is on.

The Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower-court ruling  that the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners improperly accepted at least 142 absentee ballots, putting the results of the Aug. 2 primary between incumbent Penny Hubbard and challenger Bruce Franks in doubt. Hubbard's attorney, Jane Dueker, said that ruling will not be appealed.