MO Senate 4th District Post-Election Analysis
Predicting election results is a most dangerous game. Endorsements are even scarier -- particularly in close races.
The Arch City Chronicle, StL Diatriber, St Louis Oracle, and others have already done excellent work analyzing the results of the complex four-way race in the 4th District MO Senate Democratic primary that Jeff Smith won.
All in all, it's probably not surprising Jeff won. He ran the best campaign. Nevertheless, it's clear from the election results that he has some work to do in order to reach out beyond his support base of middle-class progressive whites in the neighborhoods around Forest Park (Wards 24 and 28) and Tower Grove Park (Wards 8 and 15).
For all the talk about splitting the North Side African-American vote two (or even three) ways, it still appears Yaphett El-Amin solidly carried the North Side with a safe 55% majority. Ignoring Ward 19, where only one precinct is in the 4th Senate District (it went 73% with El-Amin), she won a majority of the votes in Wards 1, 4, 22, 26, and 27. Most of that area (generally north of Delmar and west of Kingshighway except that ward 4 includes the Ville neighborhood) is in her current State Rep district, although not entirely. It seemed like a pretty strong base - but not strong enough to win overall.
El-Amin won, but did not attain a majority, in Ward 17 (by one vote over Jeff Smith, but keep in mind this is only four precincts - basically FPSE and McRee Town/Botanical Heights), and Ward 18, which is mostly north of Delmar but stretches into the CWE somewhat, accounting for Jeff Smith's 13.8% showing there.
Amber Boykins did not attain a majority anywhere, and won only Ward 21 (Penrose/O'Fallon Park neighborhoods). That's her base of course.
Kenny Jones did not win anywhere, of course. He managed to break 10% in his home base of Ward 22 (Wells/Goodfellow and Hamilton Heights), but El-Amin solidly took it.
Derio Gambaro won a majority in only Ward 10 (which includes The Hill) and Ward 16 (St. Louis Hills and the western half of Southampton). Those constituted his base. Everybody thought he would win there. He did not win any other wards.
Naturally, Jeff won huge majorities in Ward 8 (Shaw and SW Garden) and Ward 15 (TG South). It wasn't even close.
Also he won with a majority in Ward 24 (Dogtown and Clifton Heights mostly), and picked up with a sizeable majority the progressive Ward 28 (Skinker-DeBaliviere and parts of the CWE). Ward 28 did not have the opportunity to vote for him in the 3rd Congressional district race, but clearly that bastion of white progressive power backed him this time.
Jeff also won the one precinct in Ward 12 and the two precincts in Ward 14, but that's very few votes.
What's most amazing is that Jeff won in Ward 23 -- albeit by only 33 votes over Gambaro. That's the Lindenwood Park and Tilles Park neighborhoods, where Mayor Slay lives and where Slay's father / committeeman / powerbroker / St. Raymond's proprietor Francis R. Slay is a significant benefactor of Jeff's. Does this indicate that part of SW City leans more left than we think? Or does it just speak to the enduring power of the sample ballot in a close race?
Or perhaps neither. After all, the Democratic organizations in wards 8 and 24 endorsed Gambaro. Jeff Smith won solidly in both wards. Meanwhile, Jim Murphy in ward 12 endorsed Boykins. She only got seven votes (out of 82 total votes cast) down there.
Come to think of it, I did see more than a few Jeff Smith yard signs in Ward 23.
Still, Jeff only picked up about 10% of the North Side vote. His massive winning margin -- 36% in an effectively four-way race -- came mainly from strong turnout in his South-Central base of wards 8, 15, 24, and 28, plus decent showings in regions futher south, particularly the Slay-engineered upset in the 23rd.
So, Jeff has some work to do to really get the political elites and the voters north of Delmar on board. He has less work to do on the South Side, but even there his winning margins could perhaps be overturned by somebody more like Pat Dougherty, Mike Daus, or Jim Shrewsbury: progressive on most economic and social justice issues, but a pro-Life Catholic South Side Democrat.
I'm not predicting that will happen, though. If Jeff is smart, he'll start building those bridges early, both north and south.