Looking at the numbers from Missouri’s presidential preference primary on Tuesday, March 15, it seems clear – if these unofficial results are certified by the Missouri secretary of state – that Black voters brought Hillary Clinton her narrow victory in Missouri, just as they brought her more impressive wins in Southern states like North Carolina where the Democratic Party has a higher proportion of African Americans and Hispanics. Her current trajectory towards the Democratic nomination was begun on Super Tuesday when she won major victories over Bernie Sanders in Texas, Virginia and other Southern states with huge margins in counties with many Blacks.
Voters in St. Louis County and city both favored Clinton over Sanders by the same decisive margin of 55 percent to 44 percent, an 11 percent advantage. Statewide, the margin was incredibly slim – 49.6 percent to 49.3 percent, an advantage of only 0.3 percent. Of course, the most significant difference between the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas are that they have more African Americans than Missouri as a whole. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Missouri is 11.8 percent African-American, while St. Louis County is 23.9 percent Black and the city has a plurality of 47.5 percent African Americans. Simply put, Black people won this election for Clinton by the tightest of margins.
In St. Louis city, the pattern was undeniable. The 11 city wards with the highest margin of Clinton voters were all majority-Black North St. Louis wards with Black aldermen, starting with Ward 27 (where Clinton beat Sanders by 1,410 votes, almost her entire statewide margin) and Antonio French’s 21st Ward, where Clinton beat Sanders by 1,289 votes. Sanders did not beat Clinton in one single majority-Black ward in St. Louis.
This should mean greater attention for our issues and concerns if – as we hope – Clinton goes on to win the Democratic nomination and the U.S. presidency. As Senator Cory Booker told The American when he was in town on Sunday, “If Hillary Clinton wins this primary and wins the presidency, it’s clearly going to be because of African-American votes. And there is a loyalty that the Clinton have to people who helped get them over. So I know that she is committed philosophically, morally, spiritually – but politically, she is also very, very committed.” We might add that we trust the political self-interest of any politician much more than their philosophy, morals or spirit, so we would expect a President Hillary Clinton to pay very close attention to the concerns of Black America.
We hope that other White Democrats running for statewide office pay close attention to Clinton’s primary results and keep them in mind as they campaign for their primary elections and the general election. We often see Democrats, and especially Missouri Democrats, working themselves to death to court what our editorial board member Mike Jones calls “the mythical out-state White Democrat.” The best return on their investment of time and money is here in their base. These candidates need to make themselves better known in Black communities and make the case to our people that they deserve our support. This is especially true in light of Clinton’s likely nomination – and the torpor that will then descend over the mostly young, White voters newly energized by Bernie Sanders.
If Hillary Clinton is on the ticket on November 8, most Black people who come to the polls in a presidential election year are going to vote for her. But how many Black people will come out to vote? The Democrats must wage an aggressive voter mobilization effort, coordinated with credible Black leadership. And when African Americans come out to vote for Clinton, will they keep voting as they move down the ticket? That question should put every Democratic candidate on notice that they need to go to work immediately.