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, December 27, 2004

Missouri bucked some national trends in 2004

Analysis of election returns and exit poll data reveals that there was more to Missouri’s Republican turn in 2004 than just national trends. In many cases, Missouri’s results ran counter to what was happening nationally.

Perhaps the most significant difference between Missouri and the rest of the nation was Missouri’s much more pronounced urban/rural split. Nationally the urban/rural split narrowed significantly, as President George W. Bush improved his performance over 2000 by 13 points in large cities and by 9 points in small cities, while 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry bettered 2000 nominee Al Gore’s performance in small towns by 9 points. Missouri bucked both trends. Missouri’s urban areas were much more supportive of Kerry than their national counterparts, while Missouri’s small towns and rural areas supported Bush more than nationally. According to the Missouri exit poll, Kerry ran 9 points better in St. Louis and Kansas City than in “large cities” nationally and a dramatic 20 points better than the national peer group of “small cities” to which St. Louis and Kansas City are actually assigned. But Bush ran an astounding 23 points better in Missouri’s small towns than in small towns nationally, and a little better in Missouri’s rural areas as well. The actual election returns confirmed the sometimes-suspect exit poll findings: Bush won all but one (Ste. Genevieve) of Missouri’s 112 rural or exurban counties.

Religious differences may account for some (or even most) of the urban/rural differences. In spite of the efforts of St. Louis Roman Catholic Archbishop Raymond Burke, Missouri’s Catholics (who are more urban than rural) backed Kerry by 2 points more than nationally. But Missouri Protestants backed Bush by 4 points more than nationally. Voters having no religious identification backed Kerry by 5 points more than nationally.

“Class warfare” in voting, initiated by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Coalition in the 1930s, continued to deteriorate, as income, wealth and occupation wield less influence over how people vote. This trend was magnified in Missouri. Missourians earning less than $15,000 a year gave Kerry only 3 points more support than Missourians making over $150,000 a year.

In perhaps the most surprising comparison, Missouri turned the gender gap on its head. Missouri women supported Bush by 2 points more than men, while nationally, men backed Bush by 3-8 points more than women. Specifically, white women in MO backed Bush by 4 points more than men (compared to 7-point advantage from white men nationally), but black women followed the national trend of supporting Kerry by several points more than black men. The Oracle believes that the reason for this anomaly is married white fundamentalist (not mainline) Protestant women, who provided Bush with support in Missouri that he did not receive in as large proportions nationally.

While the youth vote was a strong part of Kerry’s support in Missouri as well as nationally, his Missouri support was skewed slightly older. All age groups under 60 supported Kerry less in Missouri than nationally, while older age groups backed Kerry more in Missouri than nationally. In Missouri Kerry actually ran a percentage point better among voters over 65 than with those under 30. Nationally the youngsters’ Kerry support outgunned the geezers by 7 points.

Competing political forces converged upon young rural fundamentalists in Missouri, and Bush won: his appeal to fundamentalist Christians trumped Kerry’s appeal to young voters. Income, class, education and gender mattered very little.

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, cited data is from the Edison/Mitofsky exit polls for the November, 2004 presidential election conducted in all 50 states by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the Associated Press and the major broadcast and cable news networks. There were 13,660 respondents in the national poll and 2,264 in the Missouri poll.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

St. Louis has NOT lost its electoral clout

Back when the Oracle was growing up in the Fifties, Missouri was a solidly Democratic state. The City of St. Louis was a big contributor to that result. In 1956, Missouri was the only state in the Union that had voted for President Dwight D. Eisenhower four years earlier to switch to Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson’s razor-thin 3,984-vote Missouri margin, won against the grain of Eisenhower’s national landslide, was due largely to the clout of the City, where 332,255 people cast votes, 61% of them for Stevenson.

In 2004, John Kerry lost Missouri, even though he won over 80% of the votes the City, a record high, dwarfing Stevenson’s 61% in 1956 and even topping President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 77% in his aberrant 1964 landslide over Barry Goldwater. But even though the City produced the most votes it had produced since 1992, the total city vote was still less than 145,000, less than half that in the Fifties. Worse yet for Democrats, for the second straight presidential election, more votes were cast in heavily Republican St. Charles County than in the City.

Many pundits blame the City’s loss of votes and punch for Democrats’ recent woes at the polls. They’re wrong. All that has happened is that many St. Louis voters have moved within the St. Louis metropolitan area, usually taking their prior voting patterns with them. Many voters from the Fifties have died off, but most of them have been replaced by descendants who largely replicate their voting patterns. Overall, the St. Louis area continues to exert approximately the same influence over statewide electoral results as it has consistently since the 1960s.

During the first two thirds of the Twentieth Century, the St. Louis area experienced net growth in population and voters, as rural migration to the cities and suburbs continued through the 1960s. The area consisting of St. Louis City and County and the three surrounding “exurban” Missouri counties (St. Charles, Franklin and Jefferson) produced approximately 38% of Missouri’s votes from 1964 through 1992. A 1990s growth spurt in rural Missouri (especially the southwest Missouri Ozarks) reduced the St. Louis area proportion a couple of points to around 36% by 1996. The St. Louis area’s portion has leveled off at around 36% for the past three presidential elections. That’s still as high as it was in 1960, when Missouri was still a solidly Democratic state.

Within the St. Louis area, of course, the voting power has moved outward away from the City. At first, St. Louis County enjoyed growth at the City’s expense, surpassing the City in 1960. The county’s portion of the statewide vote peaked in 1976, and maintained that approximate level of dominance through the 1980s. The surrounding exurban counties began growing in earnest in the 1990s, and their growth, at the expense of both St. Louis city and county, continues through this day.

But even with the voters moving around, the area’s voting behavior has remained relatively constant. While fluctuation continues, with Democrats doing better in years when Democrats win and Republicans doing better in years when Republicans win (Duh!), the St. Louis area continues to track right along with the rest of the state on a pretty consistent basis. Many Republicans who lived and voted in the City in the Fifties (over 130,000 City voters voted for Eisenhower in 1956) cast their votes in the County in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. By the 1990s, many of them (or their like-voting descendants) cast their votes in St. Charles, Franklin or Jefferson Counties. Middle-class African Americans and other Democrats who formerly lived and voted in the City (or their like-voting descendants) now cast their votes in the County, especially north county and the “inner ring” suburbs. Intervening realigning changes (i.e., more African Americans voting more heavily Democratic than before 1964 and a pro-Republican shift among Roman Catholic and fundamentalist Christian voters) have largely canceled each other out.

While St. Charles County’s Republican margin continues to increase with its population growth, that county is actually recording Democratic gains in percentage of the vote as its population becomes more urbanized. Democratic presidential candidates have topped 40% of the St. Charles County vote in each of the past three elections, compared to only once (Jimmy Carter) in the prior seven presidential elections.

The net effect of all the movement and other changes is pretty much the same. In 2004, Kerry won 54.85% of the vote in the entire four-county-plus-city region. This is quite comparable to the 54.13% that Stevenson won in the same region in 1956.

The credit/blame for Missouri’s shift to apparent Republican dominance does not belong at St. Louis’ doorstep. That change (fueled by a possibly permanent realignment in 2000) took place in rural Missouri, where the historic and ironic Democratic dominance in counties that had been loyal to the Confederacy in the Civil War (a common trait in border states like Missouri) has apparently come to an end.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Church's inclusiveness "too controversial" for CBS, NBC

The Oracle's church is making waves by trying to advertise that it is open to all, regardless of ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or political belief. The press release of the Church's national office is reproduced below.

CBS, NBC refuse to air church's television advertisement

United Church of Christ ad highlighting Jesus' extravagant welcome called 'too controversial'

For immediate release
Nov. 30, 2004

CLEVELAND -- The CBS and NBC television networks are refusing to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome has been deemed "too controversial."

The ad, part of the denomination's new, broad identity campaign set to begin airing nationwide on Dec. 1, states that -- like Jesus -- the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation.

According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too "controversial."

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

Similarly, a rejection by NBC declared the spot "too controversial."

"It's ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial," says the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president. "What's going on here?"

Negotiations between network officials and the church's representatives broke down today (Nov. 30), on the day before the ad campaign was set to begin airing nationwide on a combination of broadcast and cable networks. The ad has been accepted and will air on a number of networks, including ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land, among others.

The debut 30-second commercial features two muscle-bound "bouncers" standing guard outside a symbolic, picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services. Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." A narrator then proclaims the United Church of Christ's commitment to Jesus' extravagant welcome: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here." (The ad can be viewed online at

In focus groups and test market research conducted before the campaign's national rollout, the UCC found that many people throughout the country feel alienated by churches. The television ad is geared toward those persons who, for whatever reason, have not felt welcomed or comfortable in a church.

"We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church's loving welcome of committed gay couples, that's where they draw the line," says the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC's communication ministry.

CBS and NBC's refusal to air the ad "recalls the censorship of the 1950s and 1960s, when television station WLBT in Jackson, Miss., refused to show people of color on TV," says Ron Buford, coordinator for the United Church of Christ identity campaign. Buford, of African-American heritage, says, "In the 1960s, the issue was the mixing of the races. Today, the issue appears to be sexual orientation. In both cases, it's about exclusion."

In 1959, the Rev. Everett C. Parker organized United Church of Christ members to monitor the racist practices of WLBT. Like many southern television stations at the time, WLBT had imposed a news blackout on the growing civil rights movement, pulling the plug on then-attorney Thurgood Marshall. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. implored the UCC to get involved in the media civil rights issues. Parker, founding director of the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, organized churches and won in federal court a ruling that the airwaves are public, not private property. That decision ultimately led to an increase in the number of persons of color in television studios and newsrooms. The suit clearly established that television and radio stations, as keepers of the public airwaves, must broadcast in the public interest.

"The consolidation of TV network ownership into the hands of a few executives today puts freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression in jeopardy," says former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, currently managing director of the UCC's Office of Communication. "By refusing to air the United Church of Christ's paid commercial, CBS and NBC are stifling religious expression. They are denying the communities they serve a suitable access to differing ideas and expressions."

Adds Andrew Schwartzman, president and CEO of the not-for-profit Media Access Project in Washington, D.C., "This is an abuse of the broadcasters' duty to inform their viewers on issues of importance to the community. After all, these stations don't mind carrying shocking, attention-getting programming, because they do that every night."

The United Church of Christ's national offices -- located in Cleveland -- speak to, but not for, its nearly 6,000 congregations and 1.3 million members. In the spirit of the denomination's rich tradition, UCC congregations remain autonomous, but also strongly in covenant with each other and with the denomination's regional and national bodies.