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Missouri could be strong condtender in Tuesday primary

Campaign volunteers for Bernie Sanders in Columbia are putting in extra hours this weekend leading up to Tuesday’s open primary.

“You don’t have to be a registered Democrat to vote on the Democratic ticket,” said Persephone Dakopolos, a volunteer for the mid-Missouri Bernie Sanders campaign. “We do see that a lot. We get a lot of Independents and Republicans that want to vote for Bernie Sanders.”

So far, candidates have largely ignored Missouri. Ted Cruz hasn’t been to the Show Me State since September and Friday was Donald Trump’s first rally in the state.

Bernie Sanders was in Kansas City a few weeks ago.

But political experts reason that candidates are starting late because Missouri only has 52 Republican and 71 Democratic delegates at stake.

It offers fewer gains than Florida or Ohio would for the candidates.

But no candidate from either party has enough delegates to clinch a nomination yet so this weekend at least is making Missouri a political battleground.

Sanders supporters in Columbia believe Sanders could have an edge over Hilary Clinton come Tuesday, despite poll numbers showing Clinton narrowly ahead of Sanders.

“There’s a lot of rural support playing into this in addition to the City of Columbia, so we have excellent support and we feel really strong about this primary,” said Dakopolos.

Also, Missouri’s new look at the “winner takes most” method could be causing Republican candidates to now look at the state differently.

If a Republican candidate gets more than 50 percent of the statewide vote, he’ll get all the delegates. But if not, it’s decided at a congressional level.

Political experts say in that way candidates could actually concentrate on only certain areas but still come out on top in the state.

Democratic delegates are awarded to candidates proportionally of what they get in the vote.

Historically, Missouri has had a low voter turnout. Secretary of State Jason Kander projects only about 34 percent of Missourians will show up on Tuesday.

But campaigners aren’t discouraged. Clinton supporters in St. Louis say they’ll be knocking on tens of thousands of doors up until voting day.

None of the Republican candidates have a campaign set up in Missouri.

But Sanders has supporters in St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia. The Columbia campaigners say they have people on the phone and canvassing all day, every day.

They hope their efforts will make Missouri a contender in this fight.

“We just have to wait and see but I do think that it’s interesting enough that there’s a lot of excitement building,” said Dakopolos. “I do think voter turn out’s going to surprise everybody.

So far, Marco Rubio and John Kasich have not made stops in Missouri.

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