We learned a few things from the election this week.
The most patriotic community in Barry and Lawrence counties, when it comes to voting, is Freistatt. The small Lawrence County village mustered a 94 percent voter turnout, 238 out of 254 votes. The next highest was Hoberg with 70 percent. The best any Barry County community mustered was 68 percent in Jenkins.
In the friendly competition between the Barry and Lawrence portions of Monett, the Forest Park precinct in Lawrence County delivered a 63 percent turnout, 10 percent better than its Barry County neighbors.
For reasons we haven't unraveled, Monett has the most populated precinct in Barry County and had almost the lowest turnout. The Cassville city precinct, the third largest in the county, was right behind Monett for low turnout.
If the size of the town amplifies the sense of insignificance, or a way to get lost in a crowd, it should be harder to get votes where the voters are concentrated. The idea runs contrary to the "battleground state" theory, where the undecided get besieged and made to feel significant, a strategy that apparently worked well for Barack Obama.
One of the things we learned this week is Monett is becoming more polarized politically. And more Republican.
Sixty years ago, Republican Dwight Eisenhower carried Monett by 597 votes with 59 percent. Harry Truman carried Monett by only 400 votes in 1948.
In recent times, the closeness of those earlier elections has faded. Twenty years ago was about the last close contest. On that occasion, George H.W. Bush won Monett with 63 percent of the vote. Since then, George W. Bush carried Monett with 68 percent of the vote in 2000, the same margin John McCain had over Obama in 2008. George W. Bush set a higher mark in 2004, carrying Monett with 72 percent over John Kerry in 2004.
Which brings us to this week's election. Mr. Obama had the distinction of losing to Mitt Romney in Monett by a record margin, mustering only 27 percent. Even George McGovern in 1972 got 30 percent, though Obama's 875 votes was 254 more votes than McGovern received.
On a positive note, kudos go out to county clerks Gary Youngblood and Gary Emerson for running a very smooth election. Polling places were well supplied with judges and the whole process looked like it had been done this way forever. We hope it always goes that well.