Missouri Democratic statewide candidates cruised to victory statewide on Nov. 6, but the party’s standard-bearer, Barack Obama lost the state by nearly 10 percent. Why? Ray Hartmann says the answer is race. Here’s how Democrat Gwen Reed and Republican Paul Zemitzsch responded.
Gwen Reed, Democratic political consultant:
This is an ongoing debate and concern for Missourians. Personally, I strongly agree with Mr. Hartmann. Every statewide Democratic candidate (with the exception of one) won their election.
All of these candidates are members of the same political party with many of the same ideologies as President Obama. You could say they were on the same page. Then how could their constituents vote for Mitt Romney, the opposition?
Perhaps one would have a better understanding if they studied the history of race relations in Missouri. Starting with the fact that Missouri was a slave state, research the Dred Scott case, revisit the Jim Crow era, understand that separate but equal was not equal and then re-read the account of the Fairground Park riot. Or, try to find a report on the riot that took place at Beaumont High School in the 60’s (I lived it; I was a junior at the time).
Now it is time to put ALL of this behind us and move FORWARD. BARACK OBAMA IS our President and one thing we can do to help him is to start having serious, meaningful discussions about race relations in this country. The white population is fast losing the majority race status and African-Americans are fast losing the majority minority status.
Paul Zemitzsch, Republican political consultant:
Missouri is not the same state as I grew up in decades ago. Missouri then was a conservative Democrat state helmed by Warren Hearnes and others that kept it a blue state before there was such a color designation. Since then, outstate Missouri has changed the hue to red on a presidential level. But, statewide the results have varied ever since the Bill Webster debacle in 1992 cast Republicans into the wilderness for awhile.
As I’ve said before, Missouri and St. Louis don’t like major change. People sort of like things as they are and don’t topple top leadership haphazardly. We just aren’t a Wisconsin-type of model.
It would be naïve to think race doesn’t play some part in election results, but it is not simply a black and white issue. It’s young-older, women-men, Latino and other minority and the list gets long. Obama did well among urban, higher-educated, younger, professional and female white voters. Romney did terribly among black and Latino voters, but that was both a self-inflicted wound by the candidate and the complete dysfunction of the Republican Party addressing the critical issues of those groups.
McCaskill’s election in particular was not a referendum on race. When Republican voters were silly enough to nominate a jihadist Christian candidate, they got what they deserved. I’m sure blacks in Missouri overwhelmingly voted against Todd Akin, but then so did virtually every other group that doesn’t believe The Scarlet Letter is a modern guide for living.
As America increasingly becomes a mixed race country in the decades to come, this argument of classic racial division will go the way of the Whigs.