PICKING A WINNER….Tom Schaller says that a “bellwether state” is one that always votes for the winner in a presidential election. By this definition, Missouri, which has picked the winner in the past 11 straight elections, is the bellwether-iest state of them all.

Likewise, there have been six counties with a perfect record since 1960 ? but only one of them is in Missouri. Therefore, Tom crowns Lincoln, MO, as the bellwether-iest county in the nation. “Somebody ought to commission a focus group in Lincoln to see how they feel about Bush and Kerry,” he says.

Good idea. Are you listening, assignment desks?