St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

A ‘perfect storm’ is brewing in Missouri

As this column is written, just prior to the Republican National Convention, the presidential race is in a dead-heat, both nationally and in Missouri. Nationally, the average results of the latest Gallup, CBS, Zogby, Harris, Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor polls (taken August 9-24) show the presidential race in a statistical dead heat, with Democrat John Kerry holding a 46.8-46.2 lead over President George W. Bush, and Republicans anticipating a nice post-convention “bounce” in the polls for Bush. The Zogby Poll for Missouri released earlier this week shows Missouri to be the closest of all the “battleground states,” with Kerry holding a mere half-point lead over Bush. The latest Survey USA poll for Missouri (taken August 15-17) shows Bush ahead 48-47. It also shows Republican Sen. Kit Bond with a big 56-37 lead for re-election over Democrat Nancy Farmer, and Republican Matt Blunt with an early 49-44 lead for governor over Democrat Claire McCaskill. You can count on both the Bush and Kerry campaigns spending lots of their resources on Missouri.

The Oracle sees big changes on the horizon. Bush and Kerry would be better off spending their money elsewhere, because Missouri isn’t going to be close. The storm clouds will soon converge and create a "perfect storm" of factors favoring Missouri Democrats.

More people generally favor Democrats than Republicans and Kerry over Bush, but the only people that matter are those who actually vote. Historically, the classes that favor Republicans tend to turn out in greater percentages than the classes that favor Democrats, so Republicans often win more votes even when more people favor Democrats. This year is shaping up to be different. Here's what's coming:

Turnout will be the key, and a number of unrelated factors will encourage more Democrat-leaning voters to go to the polls. Several of them affect the turnout of African-American voters, who tend to give Democrats at least 90% of their votes. In Kansas City, African Americans are poised to retake that city’s congressional seat after 10 years in white hands. St. Louis County’s growing black population has one of its own seeking to retain the county executive’s office, which fell to the county’s only African American council member after the death of Buzz Westfall. In the City of St. Louis, African Americans feel threatened by business-backed “home rule” ballot measurers that would reduce the power of the city’s highest ranking black officerholder and make another’s office appointed by the mayor. Those ballot measures are also opposed by most Democratic Party regulars, who will be inspired to turn out on election day.

The ballot makeup also favors Missouri Democrats. As noted in my August 18 column, a petition drive succeeded in adding the ultra-conservative Constitution Party to the ballot, while petition drives for liberal independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader and the liberal Progressive Party failed. Disappointed conservative voters will have two ideologically appealing alternatives to Bush (Libertarian and Constitution), but Kerry will not have to fend off any progressive alternatives.

Any of these factors by themselves could be decisive in an election as close as what has been forecast. But the convergence of all of them creates the political equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.

Furthermore, the Democratic appointed majority on the Missouri Supreme Court could implant an F5 tornado in the eye wall of that hurricane. If Congressman Lacy Clay’s lawsuit results in allowing “early voting” in the City of St. Louis, easily the state’s most Democratic jurisdiction, and especially if that privilege is limited just to that jurisdiction, the Democrats’ already decisive victory will become a rout.

These factors could have been offset if Constitutional Amendment 2 had been placed on the November ballot. Gov. Bob Holden deflected that ballot measure off to the August primary instead. That issue attracted thousands of extra voters into the primary, mostly opponents of “gay marriage,” and many of them voted to unseat Holden while they were there. The religious fundamentalists who came out specially to back Amendment 2 are one of the few segments of the Republican voting bloc whose turnout tends to be low. Those extra voters would have likely provided a pro-Bush impact if the measure had been voted on in November. Knowingly or not, Holden fell on his sword for his party.

The Oracle sees Kerry winning Missouri decisively enough to carry the rest of the statewide Democratic ticket to victory as well, even including the politically wounded McCaskill, U.S. senatorial underdog Farmer, and accidental state treasurer nominee Mark Powell.


Blogger Steve in St. Lou said...

I agree, Oracle. The Dems have a great chance to maintain the Governor's mansion and take back the Missouri House.

Unless you believe that all of the conservatives and Republicans stayed home August 3, you've got to love the numbers for the Democrats. 835,340 Missouri voters cast votes in the Democratic primary for Holden, McKaskil and two other candidates. While Matt Blunt recieved only 533,281 votes. Even if you buy into the theory that some mischievous voters got Democratic ballots to vote for a 'weak Governor' Holden, you can't believe it was significant enough to make up that big of a difference.

Also of interest is that Nancy Farmer received 536,493 votes in her Senate primary to Kit Bond's 540,788. And Farmer actually had a credible opponent, Charles Berry. So the polls showing the Senator with a commanding lead may be deceiving...

Also heartening is the Secretary of State primary results, with Robin Carnahan receiving 695,386 votes to Catherine Hanaway's 518,856.

In the Missouri Senate, Harry Kennedy will run a strong race for the 1st District seat and Patt Sharp will provide a strong challenge for the 25th District seat. Also 'in play' could be the 15th District seat, where Jeanne Kirkton could give incumbant Michael Gibbons a strong race. Gibbons angered many 15th District voters with his crucial vote in support of Concealed Carry legislation (Gibbons' district voted overwhelmingly against the Constitutional Amendment in 1999 -- more than two-thirds against the amendment).

In the Missouri House, several seats that were close races are 'in play,' and we could see Democrats pick up as many as a dozen seats as voters display their disgust at the EXTREME Republican House agenda under the leadership of Hanaway, Jetton,

The main thing for progressive voters and Democratic moderates is to GET OUT THE VOTE! We know the Republicans will, so it is imperative that key constituencies get to the polls and elect progressives and Democrats in November!!!

August 26, 2004 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! It sure gives me some much needed optimism. Is retaking the House really possible? I haven't seen much of a coordinated campaign yet, it seems the state Dem party put all of it's attention on saving Holden... Any word on how Claire's fundraising is going? Seems like she needs to get ads back on the air soon.

August 26, 2004 at 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oracle Tim:

When you were in college I know you never inhaled-but that must have changed-I wish your predictions woudl come true but I see Kerry losting by at least 5 points-McCaskill by a bigger margin making it impossible for any Dem to win statwide except for Robin who is up agains Catherine Hanaway whose biggest contribution during her legistlative career was to introduced HB 1088 outlawing bestiatiliy (Is this a problem in Glendale?). Thisd swift boat bullshit will sink Kerry. And its real interesting back in the sixties I would have voted in favor of the draft dodger (ie Bush) as opposed to the war "hero". How things change and how reactionary we all are.

Its a perfect storm alright-someone's going to lose a trailer-and I think it will be the Dems.

August 26, 2004 at 1:14 PM  

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