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Cape Girardeau County is a county located in Southeast Missourimarker in the United Statesmarker. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county's population was 68,693; a 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 73,243. While the largest city in the county is Cape Girardeaumarker, the county seat is actually Jacksonmarker, which was the first city named in honor of President Andrew Jackson . The county was officially organized on October 1, 1812.

Cape Girardeau County is the central hub of the Cape Girardeaumarker–Jackson, MO-ILmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Cape Girardeau County was organized on October 1, 1812, as one of five original counties and is named after Ensign Sieur Jean Baptiste de Girardot (also spelled Girardeau or Girardat), a French officer originally stationed at Kaskaskia, Illinoismarker from 1704-1720 who later developed a trading post on the site on the present-day city of Cape Girardeau around 1733. The "cape" in the county name was a rock promontory overlooking the Mississippi River; the original cape rock was destroyed by railroad construction. The county's name derives from a district located in the area when the Spanish controlled the region.

The first Cape Girardeau County Courthouse was constructed in 1818 by John Davis. This courthouse burned in 1870. The present courthouse in Jackson was completed in 1908 and was designed by P.H. Weathers.


Of adults 25 years of age and older in Cape Girardeau County, 81.1% possess a high school diploma or higher while 24.2% hold a bachelor's degree as their highest educational attainment.

Public Schools

  • Delta R-V School District - Deltamarker
    • Delta Elementary School (K-06)
    • Delta High School (07-12)
  • Oak Ridge R-VI School District - Oak Ridgemarker
    • Oak Ridge Elementary School (K-06)
    • Oak Ridge High School (07-12)
  • Nell Holcomb R-IV School District - Egypt Mills
    • Nell Holcomb Elementary School (K-08)
  • Jackson R-II School District - Jacksonmarker
    • Gordonville Attendance Center (K-03) - Gordonvillemarker
    • Millersville Attendance Center (K-03) - Millersvillemarker
    • North Elementary School (K-05)
    • Orchard Drive Elementary School (K-03)
    • South Elementary School (PK-05)
    • West Lane Elementary School (03-05)
    • Jackson Middle School (06-07)
    • Russell Hawkins Jr. High School (08-09)
    • Jackson High School (10-12)
  • Cape Girardeau Public Schools No. 63 - Cape Girardeaumarker
    • Alma Schrader Elementary School (K-04)
    • Blanchard Elementary School (K-04)
    • Clippard Elementary School (K-04)
    • Franklin Elementary School (K-04)
    • Jefferson Elementary School (K-04)
    • Cape Central Middle School (05-06)
    • Cape Central Jr. High School (07-08)
    • Cape Central High School (09-12)
    • Cape Girardeau Career & Technology Center (10-12)

Private Schools

Post Secondary Education

Cape Girardeau County is home to two public post-secondary educational facilities.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 586 square miles (1,518 km²), of which, 579 square miles (1,499 km²) of it is land (68% urban, 32% rural) and 8 square miles (20 km²) of it (1.31%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways


As of the census of 2000, there were 68,693 people, 26,980 households, and 17,941 families residing in the county. The population density was 119 people per square mile (46/km²). There were 29,434 housing units at an average density of 51 per square mile (20/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.13% White, 5.28% Black or African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.75% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Approximately 0.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 26,980 households out of which 31.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.80% were married couples living together, 9.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.50% were non-families. 27.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.40% under the age of 18, 13.40% from 18 to 24, 27.80% from 25 to 44, 21.60% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,862, and the median income for a family was $58,037. Males had a median income of $32,371 versus $20,833 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,303. About 6.70% of families and 11.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.40% of those under age 18 and 10.10% of those age 65 or over.



Politics at the local level in Cape Girardeau County is predominantly controlled by the Republican Party. In fact, all but three of Cape Girardeau County’s elected officials are Republicans.

Office Incumbent Party
Assessor Jerry L. Reynolds Democratic
Auditor David Ludwig Republican
Circuit Clerk Charles P. Hutson Democratic
Clerk Kara Clark Summers Republican
Commissioner – District 1 Paul Koeper Republican
Commissioner – District 2 Jay C. Purcell Republican
Collector Diane Diebold Republican
Coroner John Clifton Republican
Presiding Commissioner Gerald W. Jones Republican
Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle Republican
Public Administrator Phyllis V. Schwab Republican
Recorder Janet F. Robert Democratic
Sheriff John D. Jordan Republican
Treasurer Roger Hudson Republican


Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 56.23% 20,672 41.75% 15,348 2.02% 744
2004 65.26% 22,433 33.49% 11,511 1.25% 429
2000 62.50% 18,543 35.36% 10,491 2.14% 635
1996 49.68% 13,781 48.38% 13,422 1.94% 538

Cape Girardeau County is divided among four legislative districts in the Missouri House of Representativesmarker. All four seats are held by Republicans.
  • District 157 - Rep. Scott Lipke (R-Jackson). The 157th District consists of the city of Jackson and most of the northern part of the county and includes the towns of Fruitlandmarker, Oak Ridgemarker, and Old Appletonmarker. Lipke ran unopposed in 2008 and was reelected with 84.31% of the vote over Jennifer Friedrich of the Constitution Party who received 15.69%.
  • District 158 - Rep. Clint Tracy (R-Cape Girardeau). The 158th District consists of most of the city of Cape Girardeau. Tracy ran unopposed in 2008 and was elected with 76.29% of the vote over Libertarian Robert Roland's 23.71%.
  • District 159 - Rep. Billy Pat Wright (R-Dextermarker). The 159th District consists of the more rural, western parts of the county and includes the towns of Deltamarker, Whitewatermarker, Allenvillemarker, and Gordonvillemarker. In 2008, Wright defeated former U.S. Representative Bill Burlison (D) with 61.83% of the vote to Burlison's 38.17%.
  • District 160 - Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-Sikestonmarker. The 160th District consists of the south central part of the county and includes the town of Dutchtownmarker. Brandom ran unopposed in 2008 and was reelected with 100% of the vote.

Cape Girardeau County is also a part of Missouri's 27th Senatorial District and is currently represented by State Senator Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau). Crowell defeated Linda Sanders (D-Jackson) 64.2%-35.8%. Cape Girardeau County backed Crowell with 67.87% of the vote to Sanders's 32.18%. The 27th Senatorial District consists of Bollingermarker, Cape Girardeau, Madisonmarker, Mississippimarker, Perrymarker, and Scottmarker counties in Southeast Missouri.

In Missouri's gubernatorial election of 2008, Governor Jay Nixon (D) defeated former U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof with 58.40 percent of the total statewide vote. While Nixon performed extremely well and won many of the rural counties in the state, Cape Girardeau County provided the Governor with his worst performance in Southeast Missouri. Hulshof carried Cape Girardeau County with 56.23 percent of the vote while Nixon received 41.75 percent.


In the U.S. House of Representatives, Cape Girardeau County is represented by Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau) who also represents all of Southeast Missouri as part of Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

Political Culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 66.30% 24,768 32.68% 12,208 1.02% 379
2004 68.90% 23,814 30.57% 10,568 0.53% 183
2000 66.42% 19,832 31.26% 9,334 2.32% 693
1996 56.32% 15,557 36.05% 9,957 7.63% 2,108

At the presidential level, Cape Girardeau County is one of, if not the, most reliably Republican strongholds in Southeast Missouri. Although a predominantly urban and relatively affluent, upper-middle class county with a college/university subplot, Cape Girardeau County is situated in the Bible Belt and is also the home of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The last Democratic presidential nominee to win Cape Girardeau County was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Since then, voters in the county have solidly backed the Republican presidential nominees by convincing margins. George W. Bush carried Cape Girardeau County by more than two-to-one margins in 2000 and 2004. Like most other counties in Southeast Missouri, voters in Cape Girardeau County favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008. During the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin made a campaign appearance at the Show-Me Center on the campus of Southeast Missouri State Universitymarker in Cape Girardeaumarker in October to reach out to the base of the Republican Party, primarily evangelical Christians. Barack Obama also made a general election campaign appearance on May 13 following Hillary Rodham Clinton's enormous win in the West Virginia Democratic Primary at a factory plant in Cape Girardeau alongside U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in attempts to reach out to white, working-class voters, a voting bloc that often strongly backed Clinton during the primaries.

Like most areas throughout Southeast Missouri, voters in Cape Girardeau County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles which tend to influence their Republican leanings. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed Cape Girardeau County with 83.19 percent of the vote. The initiative passed the state with 71 percent of support from voters as Missouri became the first state to ban same-sex marriage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to fund and legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state—it failed in Cape Girardeau County with 63.12 percent voting against the measure. The initiative narrowly passed the state with 51 percent of support from voters as Missouri became one of the first states in the nation to approve embryonic stem cell research. Despite Cape Girardeau County’s longstanding tradition of supporting socially conservative platforms, voters in the county have a penchant for advancing populist causes like increasing the minimum wage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a proposition (Proposition B) to increase the minimum wage in the state to $6.50 an hour—it passed Cape Girardeau County with 60.04 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 75.94 percent voting in favor as the minimum wage was increased to $6.50 an hour in the state. During the same election, voters in five other states also strongly approved increases in the minimum wage.

2008 Missouri Presidential Primary


Cape Girardeau County was the only county in Missouri's 8th Congressional District to be won by former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusettsmarker). Romney carried Cape Girardeau County with 35.32 percent of the vote. U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizonamarker) came in second place in Cape Girardeau County with 31.77 percent. Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansasmarker) finished third with 27.63 percent while libertarian-leaning U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texasmarker) came in fourth with 3.25 percent of the vote in Cape Girardeau County.

Huckabee slightly led Missouri throughout much of the evening until the precincts began reporting from St. Louis where McCain won and put him over the top of Huckabee. In the end, McCain received 32.95 percent of the vote to Huckabee’s 31.53 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. McCain received all of Missouri’s 58 delegates as the Republican Party utilizes the winner-take-all system.


Former U.S. Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New Yorkmarker) won Cape Girardeau County although not nearly as strongly as she did throughout the more rural counties in Southeast Missouri over now President Barack Obama (D-Illinoismarker). Clinton carried Cape Girardeau County with 56.55 percent of the vote while Obama received 39.44 percent of the vote. Although he withdrew from the race, former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolinamarker) still received 3.10 percent of the vote in Cape Girardeau County.

Clinton had a large initial lead in Missouri at the beginning of the evening as the rural precincts began to report, leading several news organizations to call the state for her; however, Obama rallied from behind as the heavily African American precincts from St. Louismarker began to report and eventually put him over the top. In the end, Obama received 49.32 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.90 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. Both candidates split Missouri’s 72 delegates as the Democratic Party utilizes proportional representation.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton received more votes, a total of 4,510, than any candidate from either party in Cape Girardeau County during the 2008 Missouri Presidential Primaries.

Cities and towns



Unincorporated towns


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