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Recent polls prompt area Democrats to dream of possible Clinton win in Missouri

Supporters pack the St. Louis for Hillary Clinton campaign office. Some took photos with the life-size cardboard cutout of Clinton in the background on Aug. 24, 2016
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay sees it, the crowd that packed Hillary Clinton’s new local office Tuesday night could help persuade her Democratic presidential campaign to direct more attention — and resources to Missouri.

Win or lose, such action could help the state’s entire Democratic ticket.

“We need to show the support is here, to pull her over the top,’’ Slay told reporters, shortly before addressing the shoulder-to-shoulder audience that spilled onto the sidewalk outside the Clinton campaign office at 4039 Lindell Blvd.

“We’re hoping to make sure to convince the Hillary Clinton campaign that the state is in play,’’ the mayor added.

Slay is among the area Democratic activists who are heartened by recent Missouri polls – the latest out Tuesday – that showed Clinton just barely trailing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Critics note, however, that the polls' sample sizes were small, which substantially increases their error margins.)

Trump long has been considered the favorite to carry Missouri in November, in part because it’s been 20 years since a presidential Democrat – Bill Clinton – won the state (and its then-11 electoral votes. Now, the state has 10).

But the fact that Trump’s campaign announced this week that he’s hiring two prominent Missouri Republican consultants, and opening a state office, is seen by many activists in both parties as evidence that Missouri isn’t a GOP lock.

Democrats encouraged by enthusiasm

The region’s Democratic optimism was on display at the opening of the new Clinton campaign office. LaDonna Appelbaum, vice president of the Maryland Heights Township Democratic Club, said she’s excited about the prospect of electing the nation’s first woman president.

In her opinion, Clinton also is the best qualified candidate. “I believe Hillary has what it takes. Her experience, her knowledge, her compassion, everything is going to make her a great 45th president.”

Credit Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay maneuvers through crowd of fellow Clinton supporters.

Appelbaum added that she’s particularly upbeat because of many of her friends who had backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries “are now on board’’ with Clinton.

Slay said he’d love to see Missouri move Clinton’s way.

“This is a state that has really mattered in the past,’’ he said. “We used to be a bellwether.”

Slay added that his interest wasn’t just political. “I want St. Louis to be relevant on the national scale,” he said. “That’s another reason why I’m here. Cities need a president who has interests in urban areas.”

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.