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This is a common question following the row over Congressman Todd Akin’s comment about abortion and rape. In a 2004 book, Thomas Frank, the liberal columnist and author, asked a similar question about Missouri’s western neighbour, Kansas, which has lurched far to the right in recent decades (indeed, its current governor Sam Brownback might well be the most extreme right-wing governor in the union). Yet there is little mystery about Kansas: its rightward shift is part of a broader trend in the Great Plains, which now rivals the South for the status as the heart of the GOP. But Missouri’s rightward shift, …

Hosted by Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute and the Politics Departments at Oxford and Cambridge universities, Elections 2012 is a forum for academic discussion and debate surrounding the US Presidential, Congressional and local elections. The forum brings together scholars from a range of different fields — including political science, history, law and literature – to supplement the horse-race coverage provided by political journalism and showcase academic research.