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.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Primary analysis: ward and township breakouts

State Auditor Claire McCaskill carried most counties in the August 3 Democratic gubernatorial primary, but not the City or County of St. Louis. Holden swept all 28 St. Louis County townships and all but three of the 28 city wards. He even carried Democratic Committee Chair Fred Kratky's 16th Ward, whose organization endorsed McCaskill and which is full of the conservative and moderate Democrats to whom McCaskill most appealed.

It was a bad day for Kratky. His organization also endorsed Mark Abel for State Treasurer and approval of Amendment 1 (Rockaway Beach casino), but did not carry either. Most embarrassing was its endorsement of Joan Barry over the ward's own favorite son Mariano Favazza in the 3rd District congressional contest. Favazza trounced Barry in the 16th by nearly 2-to-1 and carried the ward with 38% of the vote. The ward endorsement, as well as recorded telephone messages from ward icon Jim Shrewsbury, could only garner Barry a weak 2nd-place finish, with 19.3%. District winner Russ Carnahan could only muster a 4th place finish in the conservative ward, the boyhood home of his Republican opponent, Bill Federer.

The 16th wasn't the only ward where Favazza took on the ward organization and won. He also carried the 12th and 23rd, whose ward healers had also endorsed Barry, and also the 10th. Favazza also finished ahead of Barry in two other wards where Barry was endorsed, the 14th and 24th, but which Jeff Smith won.

Of course, Jeff Smith was the real story in the City, carrying nine wards (and just two votes shy of a tenth) and the city as a whole, without a single ward endorsement. He also carried four St. Louis County townships and the county as a whole. His intense and effective grassroots effort almost succeeded in a very high turnout election, where grassroots activities are typically overwhelmed by the influx of marginal voters who are more susceptible to media advertising and bandwagon perceptions. In the end, those dynamics carried Carnahan to victory, though not by much.

Of course, the closeness of wins don't usually matter. Carnahan's squeaker in this contest followed his narrow primary win in his initial run for state representative in 2000. That career start is not unlike that of the seat's current holder, Dick Gephardt, whose first election victory was an approximate 100-vote win over a first-term Republican incumbent for 14th Ward alderman in 1971.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really nice political blog. Keep posting--we need more oracles.

August 16, 2004 at 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

comparing the hard work gephardt did with the non-work of russ is laughable.

August 17, 2004 at 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine today... but Dick Gephardt was a big underdog in his first race and was running against other candidates with MUCH bigger inherited advantages then him. He worked his tail off and impressed everyone with his drive, intellect and integrity enough to squeek out a victory. Sound famiiar? The right comparison is to Jeff Smith not Russ Carnahan. Reaching the heights that Gephardt reached is way to much pressure to put on anyone.... but Jeff would have become an instant star in MO and DC. My prediction is that Russ will make list after list of the worst congressmen in Washington. Another HUGE missed opportunity for St. Louis.

August 17, 2004 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger St. Louis Oracle said...

Ease up, folks! I only compared Carnahan's early victory margins to Gephardt, not his campaign or ability. I fully agree that Carnahan is a buffoon, and the fact that he will likely win the district by a larger margin this time than Gephardt did last time is based on the dynamics of this election year, not any special appeal of Carnahan.

I do disagree with the third Anonymous commentator's recollection of history. What early Gephardt opponents had "MUCH greater inherited advantages"? His only opponent in his first election was 14th Ward Alderman Raymond Summers, who had won the Democratic ward four years before by unseating an unpopular Democratic incumbent (Jack Koehr, later a circuit judge). Summers was a union electrician (IBEW). In the 1976 congressional primary, Gephardt beat State Sen. Don Gralike of Lemay. In the general election, he beat former Aldermanic President Joe Badaracco, whose had lost his prior two elections (one in a GOP primary). The 1976 election took place in a very Democratic year, the first presidential election after Watergate. Jimmy Carter carried the state for Democrats and carried "Walkin' Joe" Teasdale in on his coattails, unseating incumbent Republican Gov. Kit Bond.

August 18, 2004 at 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why you are the Oracle. Thanks for clearing that up. Glad to hear that you haven't lost site of the Buffoon reality of Russ. I agree that he should have a HUGE victory despite himself given dynamics well outside his control. I would look for him to have well over 60% in November.

August 19, 2004 at 10:21 PM  

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