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What’s going to win big MO Tuesday? Here’s your primary forecast

The important, but overshadowed, Missouri presidential primary is Tuesday.

It’s overshadowed by the big contests in Ohio and Florida and because of the five states voting that day, it’s the smallest prize in terms of delegates.

But it’s important nonetheless as the oh-so-competitive primary campaigns rage across the nation.

And, hey, the candidates are competing here, which means they consider it worth winning.

[Download, listen to our new political podcast, Deep Background: Locking up Missouri in the closing hours ]

So who will the battle of Missouri? Here’s a series of predictions:

Dave Helling, Kansas City Star political writer:

Republicans: Ted Cruz. “Missouri liked Santorum, Akin, and almost picked Huckabee. And the suburbs may be scared of Trump. And Cruz has Jeff Roe (the former Missouri political consultant who is the Texas senator’s campaign manager).”

Democrats: Hillary Clinton. “Sanders has a good argument on trade. But she's got the cities, and rural areas aren't ready for a socialist.”

Robynn Kuhlmann, political scientist, University of Central Missouri:

Republicans: Trump. “At this point it is still difficult to piece together why Trump has caught so much support overall, aside from name recognition and the art of the cult of personality in politics. My assessment is that he has been able to reign in those who have had high anxiety about the instability of the economy, Republican Party, and the demographic make-up of the U.S.”

Democrats: Clinton. “This is primarily due to the more moderate base of Missouri's Democratic voters. She also had an earlier start on her campaign headquarters in St. Louis and the support from the black caucus.”

Dave Robertson, chairman, University of Missouri-St. Louis Political Science Department:

Republicans: “It’s going to be Trump because we have that streak of independence that goes back to (Ross) Perot. This is fertile ground for Trump. Cruz will give him a run for his money because Huckabee won it in 2008.”

Democrats: “I would pick Clinton. She has a little bit of an advantage with the party establishment. Sanders will run strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins.”

Eric Wesson, staff writer and columnist, The Call newspaper, Kansas City:

Republicans: “Donald Trump's reality show campaign will fall short as Ted Cruz squeaks by on the Republican side with his conservative message and his `undo Obama’ rhetoric.”

Democrats: Clinton. “In spite of her husband's relationships with the urban cores of Kansas City and St. Louis, I believe Senator Sanders takes those two cities, but loses the state to former Secretary Clinton who will clean up in rural Missouri.”

James Harris, Missouri GOP consultant who’s not affiliated with any presidential candidate:

Republicans: “I’d give a slight edge to Trump. In Missouri, you look at how well Huckabee and Santorum did (in 2008 and 2012 respectively) and you look at how Cruz is doing at his get-out-the-vote effort and how late-deciding voters are breaking for Cruz. I would not be at all surprised if Cruz wins the state.”

Democrats: Sanders. “Minorities make up 27 percent of the primary vote, and Sanders is doing well in states where that percentage is below 40. Sanders has a great shot. He’s making a run. I would not be surprised if he narrowly won.”

Steve Glorioso, long-time Kansas City-based Democratic consultant:

Republicans: A split decision. “Trump could win the statewide popular vote, but Cruz, by deft management from Jeff Roe, wins more delegates” as a result of the way the state apportions delegates. Missouri places a premium in both parties in how well candidates fare in each of the state’s eight congressional districts

Democrats: Same story. “Sanders wins the popular vote, Clinton wins more delegates.”

Patrick Miller, University of Kansas political scientist:

Republicans: “It’s a close call between Cruz and Trump. I probably have to give the edge to Cruz despite what the poll said because of the Republican primary electorate voting history,” which favors social conservatives. “But I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go to Trump.”

Democrats: “It’s a tossup. I would not be comfortable venturing a guess.”

Yours truly, good-looking political columnist:

Republicans: Cruz. “Social conservatives have carried the day in Missouri in recent years, just as they have in neighboring Kansas. Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe, who toiled in the state for years, won’t let this one slip by.”

Democrats: Clinton. “She dominated rural Missouri in 2008, and that should give her the edge this year. But it’ll be close.”

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