Missouri backs Biden to challenge Trump in November
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally Saturday, March 7, in St. Louis. | Jeff Roberson / AP

ST. LOUIS—Missouri’s Democratic voters chose Vice President Joe Biden to challenge Donald Trump for the White House in November.

The Show Me State was one of four, out of six that voted, which Biden swept on March 10. He also won big in Michigan and Mississippi, propelled by the African-American majority in the latter and white working class and African-American voters in Michigan, especially in Detroit.

Biden also won big in virtually all-white Idaho, while Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., defeated him in North Dakota. Ballots are still being counted in the second largest state voting on March 10, Washington, where the race is too close to call.

Shortly after polls across Missouri closed at 7 pm, The Washington Post and The New York Times announced Biden as the clear winner. As the actual vote tallies came in following the quick victory nod, it showed a big electoral win for the Biden camp, instead of a 2016 repeat when Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton split the vote and delegates 50/50.

With all Missouri precincts reporting this morning, Biden won with 60.1% of Democratic voters (339,734 votes). Sanders came in second with 34.5%, or 229,643 votes.

The Sanders campaign came within inches of winning Boone County, home to the University of Missouri—a hub of activism mid-state.

In the city of St. Louis, voters had Biden up by 12 points at 53.4%, with Sanders taking 41.4%. In St. Louis County, it was Biden 65% to 29% for Sanders, while in Jefferson County Biden won 58% to 36%.

“This is the campaign that will send Donald Trump packing. This is the coalition that can not only win the Democratic nomination but can propel Democrats to victory this fall,” read a statement from the Biden campaign.

Voters surveyed showed Biden had a majority of support from moderate Democrats, and African- American voters aged 45 and over, while Sanders seized the youth and millennial voters.

Union members and households voted 63% to 33% in favor of Biden. That was not surprising, as it signals union voters followed their local and national endorsements, even if the result conflicted with the younger rank-and-file preferences. But the trend among younger unionists calls into question the process of political endorsements for some unions.

Exit polls showed the top four issues for Missouri voters were: race relations, health care, climate change, and income inequality. It also shows voters’ decision-making process, with many reflecting on the years under President Barack Obama and hoping to return to that type of administration under Biden.

Missouri voters were split between backing Medicare for All (Sanders) and expanding Obamacare in some form (Biden). In Missouri and in St. Louis, in particular, health care is the main industry and employer for many, and similar to voters in Iowa, the thought of a nationalized health system brings with it fears of job loss.

Missouri also experienced some glitches at polling locations early on, leaving many voters frustrated and walking away. Issues with the polling stations’ poll books not syncing with receipt printers and voter rolls led to confusion and frustration for poll workers and voters alike as they scrambled to use the manual log.

In north St. Louis, election officials relocated the Ward 22 polling place on Martin Luther King Drive after a man backed a car into the building before entering and yelling threats, throwing things and pouring water on workers and voting machines.

And while Sanders may have lost the state, Team Sanders here is not discouraged.

“I don’t see one head down,” said Cori Bush, a Ferguson activist currently running against Democratic U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay in the August congressional primary. “Electoral races can flip in a matter of days, so supporters should get back to work to help boost Sanders’ efforts in upcoming primaries in other states.

“Sleep tonight, get some rest, and let’s get right back at it tomorrow. Maybe we didn’t win it, but the next state can. This is still our moment.”


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.