Missouri voters made a statement on Tuesday, both those who cast ballots as well as those who didn’t show, according to two long-time political observers.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch political reporter Jo Mannies says that what stood out to her about Tuesday’s primary election was the low turn-out. Election officials had hoped for a turnout between 30 and 35%, but only about 19% of the state’s registered voters bothered to go to the polls. Mannies says turnout was especially low among Democrats, in particular in the First Congressional District of St. Louis, in which less than 15% of the registered voters cast ballots. Mannies says that’s important, because the First District is largely African-American and it appears resident voters aren’t energized without Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama being on the ballot. She says that might make a difference come November.
Kansas City Star political reporter Steve Kraske focuses on the small margin of victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary in which Kenny Hulshof edged Sarah Steelman. Hulshof squeezed out a victory, winning 49.2% of the vote to Steelman’s 44.7%. Kraske says Hulshof needed to emerge from the primary with a double-digit victory to create the momentum he needs to defeat Democrat Jay Nixon in November. Kraske says Hulshof had clear advantages going into Tuesday’s primary with the Republican apparatus clearly behind him, including the endorsement of US Senator Christopher Bond. The strong showing of Steelman doesn’t bode well for Hulshof in the general election.
Both Kraske and Mannies will be commenting on Missouri politics through the November elections on the Missourinet’s special program; Campaign Watch, which begins Monday. A broadcast version of the program will be aired on many Missourinet affiliates. A longer version will be posted on this Web site.