Immediately after the election, David McCoy pointed out that the concept of bellwetherhood was Bad Statistics. It is also bad inductive reasoning to suggest that something is unlikely because it hasn't happened before, or that something is remarkable because it is unlikely. J.R. Lucas (author of several books of philosophy including The Concept of Probability) used to call this the Dover Fallacy.
There was a young curate of DoverThe BBC reports Larry Sabato, Professor of Political Science at the University of Virginia, as saying that trying to identify bellwethers may not be a worthwhile enterprise. But if you search for "Larry Sabato bellwether" you can find what appear to be many attempts by Professor Sabato to do just that for various state and national elections including the most recent.
Who bowled twenty-five wides in an over,
Which had never been done
By a clergyman’s son
On a Tuesday in August in Dover.
- Virginia's Bellwethers May Point the Way to Victory and Defeat (2001)
- WA-SEN: Sabato Pegs Cantwell Race as Bellwether (2006)
- N.C. a presidential bellwether? (July 2008)
- Battle for Votes in Bellwether Ohio (October 2008)
Meanwhile, there is apparently some status involved in being a bellwether state. Now I don't know a lot about herding sheep, but I think the way it works is that if you are herding sheep you only need one bell, but if you are herding goats you need one bell for each goat.
Perhaps having a bell around its neck made Missouri feel more important than the other sheep. Now people are already discussing how to get Missouri its bell back.
- What killed Missouri's bellwether status? (Saint Louis Beacon)
- Missouri: Promoting Diversity Key to Reclaiming Bellwether Crown (Moderate Voice)
- So Long Bellwether Status (Midwest Voices)