Back when I was more active with my PubDef blog, I would make pre-election predications, often with a high degree of accuracy. As I prepare for a busy Election Day in my own 21st Ward, where we will be electing new Democratic committeepeople to better represent us, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict not only that Russ Carnahan will lose in his ill-conceived attempt to stay in Congress by way of Missouri’s only majority-black district, but I’ll also tell exactly you why Carnahan will lose:
Reason #1: As much as 25% of white south St. Louis City voters, who might be inclined to support a Russ Carnahan over a Lacy Clay, will not even vote in the Democratic Primary, instead choosing to pick up a Republican ballot to cast their vote in one of the heated GOP primaries. Remember, in the 2008 general election, almost 25,000 southsiders voted for John McCain.
Reason #2: This race will be decided north of Delmar and north of the city limit. The vast majority of votes in the new First are from north St. Louis City and north St. Louis County. Despite the enthusiasm of a few young progressives working inside the bubble of south city ward politics, the fact is Carnahan never really gave north County or north City voters a good reason to switch from Clay. And so they won’t.
Reason #3: Contrary to what Carnahan or the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board thinks, so-called pay day lenders and big, bad Rent-A-Center aren’t anywhere on black voters’ Top 10 (or even Top 20) list of issues. (And by the way, that Carnahan thinks it is is just another reason he wouldn’t represent neighborhoods like mine very well.) The Carnahan campaign foolishly made that (and Clay’s attendance record) the focus of their negative attacks on the incumbent. The First District is a majority-African-American district. It deserves a representative that has an understanding of what matters to black voters. Over the course of this campaign, Mr. Carnahan has not shown any evidence that he does.
None of these reasons are new. All of them were told to Carnahan before he decided to run. In fact, on this very blog and in a personal phone conversation with Carnahan himself, I explained to him why he couldn’t win, and more importantly, how his campaign would divide the city along racial lines, split the Democratic Party, and damage the Carnahan brand that was his father’s legacy.
He didn’t listen.
And so here we are, on Election Eve, divided.
And for what?
Oh, well. We’ll have some work to do starting on August 8th. I hope Congressman Clay helps lead the way.