KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters strayed from party lines on Election Day, sending Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill back to Washington and Gov. Jay Nixon back to Jefferson City while also turning their 10 electoral votes over to Republican Mitt Romney's failed bid for the White House.
McCaskill managed to hold off a stiff challenge from Republican Todd Akin on Tuesday, even though she acknowledged being the underdog early in the race. That changed following Akin's much-publicized remarks about "legitimate rape," which many voters said played a factor in their decision.
"With a stubborn determination, tenacity and a refusal to give up, we showed the country what Missouri is made of," McCaskill told cheering supporters at her election night party in St. Louis.
McCaskill helped the Democrats secure a majority in the Senate, securing Republican-held seats in Massachusetts and Indiana and turning back fierce, expensive challenges elsewhere.
Romney's victory marked the second straight election that Obama failed to carry the state, though neither presidential candidate did much campaigning in Missouri. Obama long ago conceded the state, allowing Romney to focus on battleground states elsewhere.
Nixon defeated Republican challenger Dave Spence in a gubernatorial contest focused largely on the economy. Nixon successfully campaigned around his ability to work with Missouri's Republican Legislature to become the state's first two-term governor since Mel Carnahan in 1996.
"Missourians said that because we've been able to work together, because we've put the common good first, we're moving in the right direction," Nixon said.
All seven incumbents in Missouri's U.S. House delegation were re-elected: Emanuel Cleaver, Sam Graves, William Lacy Clay Jr., Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Jo Ann Emerson each defeated challengers with less name recognition and far fewer campaign resources, and first-term GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler held off challenger Teresa Hensley in a closely watched contest.
Ann Wagner, a former state Republican leader and U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, will succeed Akin in Congress. Wagner is a former Missouri Republican Party chairwoman.
Missouri was electing just eight members of Congress instead of nine because of redistricting after the 2010 census. For the first time in three decades, the state lost a seat in the U.S. House when its population failed to keep pace with other faster-growing states.
Several contentious policy issues were on the ballot, including a measure that voters struck down that would have increased Missouri's lowest-in-the nation tobacco tax by 73 cents per pack. It was the third time in a decade voters rejected an effort to boost the tax from 17 cents.
Voters passed a measure limiting the governor's ability to implement part of Obama's health care law and a proposition allowing St. Louis to oversee its own police, but voted down a measure that would have changed the makeup of the state's nonpartisan, seven-member Appellate Judicial Commission to give the governor four appointees, instead of the current three.
Election officials forecasted 72 percent of the population — more than 3 million of nearly the 4.2 million registered voters — would cast ballots, and long lines were reported at polling places across the state. Only minor glitches had been reported to the secretary of state's office.