Missouri Voters Reflect on Tight Democratic Race
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And let's go over to the Democrats. Renee?
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Yes, Steve, the state of Missouri was so close among the Democrats that several national news organizations called it first for Hillary Clinton and then for Barack Obama. And as of this morning there are still question marks over the state and its 72 Democratic delegates. The vote took place amid rain and lightning that may have dampened turn-out in many places there.
The bad weather didn't keep NPR's Linda Wertheimer from attending a couple of primary night parties in the St. Louis area and talking to one of the country's most closely divided electorates.
LINDA WERTHEIMER: In St. Peters, which is west of St. Louis, we went to a bar called Lauler's(ph), to a party for a local Democratic candidate, hoping for an assortment of supporters for the two presidential candidates. And that's what we found.
Lee Jenkins is a stay-at-home mom who voted for Barack Obama, hoping he'd be more electable.
Ms. LEE JENKINS: I thought he was likely to get more independents and Republicans that would cross party lines for him and, you know, in the end make him more electable in the general.
WERTHEIMER: We found several supporters of John Edwards, who dropped out of the race just before Super Tuesday. Their support may account for part of Obama's late gains.
Jim Carl's job is waste water. He wanted to vote for Edwards.
Mr. JIM CARL: I felt that Edwards had a batter plan, to be honest with you. But I think that Barack, with his charisma and how he can relate to be people, he really came across that way. But I had supported Edwards for quite a long time.
WERTHEIMER: Hillary Clinton carried St. Charles County, where St. Peters is, and part of her strength came from union members. We met several, including John Schetterly(ph). He's a pressman at the Post Dispatch newspaper.
Mr. JOHN SCHETTERLY: Okay. I voted for Hillary. I think Hillary's been around so long and she's always been strong with unions. Barack came out of nowhere. You know, I've heard his name, but Hillary's been around. She's the old gal of the, you know, of the place. And if Barack gets it, I'm sure we'll back Barack, but I'm personally going with Hillary and so is my union.
WERTHEIMER: We also met a family who almost but not quite agreed on a candidate. Their son voted for Obama, but the parents went with Clinton. Gordon Schrader is a bail examiner. His wife Jackie works in a factory making (unintelligible)
Mr. GORDON SCHRADER: There wasn't a whole lot of competition out there. Hillary had appeared to have the most experience, and we spent eight years with Bill and we had it pretty good. So we just voted for Clinton.
WERTHEIMER: What about you, the momma of the family?
Ms. JACKIE SCHRADER: I just think it's a chance to make history, put a woman in the White House.
WERTHEIMER: We also went to an election night party in Clayton, Missouri, a small and prosperous community on the edge of the city of St. Louis. It was a neighborhood party - all sides welcome - given by a former mayor and his wife. This is another area where Obama picked up support among white middle class voters, including Susan Rava(ph), a retired French professor who likes the poetry of Obama's candidacy.
Ms. SUSAN RAVA: And the way he expresses himself, and there's something about it that pulls you into a world of possibility. And I really felt that this was the moment for that.
WERTHEIMER: Also at that party, the Newman's. He's a lawyer. She's a scientist. They've been married for nearly 50 years. And this is their first political disagreement. Sanford Newman thinks Obama is more likely to win.
Mr. SANFORD NEWMAN: Because I think there are a lot of people who have negative feelings about Hillary Clinton, and I think that Obama seems to have gathered a lot of momentum and excitement and people are excited about his campaign.
WERTHEIMER: Roz Newman thinks Clinton is more substantive.
Ms. ROZ NEWMAN: The idea of change, change, change without any real substance, it seemed to me, underneath that just convinced me that I think Hillary has more substance in what she has to say.
WERTHEIMER: Apparently as the Newman family goes, so goes Missouri, split right down the middle.
Linda Wertheimer, NPR News, Clayton, Missouri.
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