(Illustration by DonkeyHotey via Flickr)

The focus of the 2012 race to select a Republican presidential nominee will soon shift to Missouri – again. The state held a nonbinding primary last month. The symbolic vote awarded no delegates, but the forthcoming caucuses will yield 52 delegates.

The voter turnout, however, might be slim, according to David Robertson, Curators’ Teaching Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Most of the Missouri caucuses will be held this Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day.

“It certainly is not going to motivate anyone to go out on St. Patrick’s Day morning,” Robertson told The Boston Globe. “It’s going to be the real committed, dyed-in-the-wool people who show up.”

Perhaps adding to the confusion, not all caucuses will take place Saturday. St. Louis city and Jackson County have scheduled their caucuses for March 24.

Robertson explained why both a nonbinding presidential primary and caucus elections were held in Missouri this year:

“The national Republican Party adopted rules that required Missouri to hold its primary later than early February, the time already established by Missouri law. The state legislature did not pass a law changing the date (the governor vetoed one effort that included other provisions he opposed). So, by law, Missouri had to hold a primary in February; but the state Republican Party scheduled caucuses in March, so that the party’s selection of delegates met the rules of the national Republican Party. Thus, the February primary was just a ‘beauty contest’ and did count in selecting delegates for the presidential nomination.”

Robertson further discussed the Missouri caucuses, “Super Tuesday” results and other news regarding the presidential race on a recent episode of “St. Louis on the Air,” a program on St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 FM. More on the Missouri primary and caucus situation, with quotes from Robertson, can be accessed at this story via St. Louis Public Radio.

David Kimball, associate professor of political science at UMSL, also discussed the relevance of the Missouri and Illinois presidential contests in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. An election expert, Kimball also recently talked with NPR about vote counting improvements made “since the disputed presidential results in Florida in 2000.”

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz