In the most closely watched – and expensive race – on the Missouri ballot on November 6, incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) got beat by Republican challenger Josh Hawley by nearly 150,000 votes.
It was one of several defeats that kept Democrats from the prize of retaking the U.S. Senate, though Democrats did retake a U.S. House majority – without the benefit of taking Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, where Republican incumbent Ann Wagner prevailed over Democratic challenger Cort VanOstran.
Michael Butler, who became the first African American to be elected Missouri recorder of deeds on November 6, saw it coming when North Side polls thinned out later in the day.
“Missouri Democrats running statewide depend heavily on late returns from North St. Louis and North St. Louis County. In 2006, 2008, and 2012 most Democratic statewide were losing the election until the returns from these mostly African-American counties came in late in the night,” Butler told The American.
“We saw this in 2016. When those returns don’t come in, Democrats lose. I knew those late returns would not be there because the late voters that were present in 2006, 2008, and 2012 were simply not at the polls after 5 p.m.”
Though McCaskill staffed a campaign office in North County in Ferguson and stumped in North St. Louis going into the last weekend before Election Day, she was criticized throughout the campaign for spending too much time and money out-state. Some of her right-center campaign ads were used against her in ads that tried to help Hawley win by dimming Democratic enthusiasm for McCaskill.
In one McCaskill ad used against her to demoralize progressives, a surrogate declared that McCaskill was “not one of those crazy Democrats.”
“There are real electoral and political reasons for this loss,” Butler said, “and also real campaign and political solutions to this as well.”
Several people lay down on the floor at the Marriott Grand Hotel in downtown St. Louis
and cried during McCaskill's concession speech, though she tried to encourage them, saying, “Keep that fire ablaze, because there is justice around the corner.”
Donald Stevens, a 19-year-old Ferguson resident, told The American after her speech: “It's heartbreaking.”
And, to others, enraging,
One supporter fumed: “I'm not sad. I'm just mad. I'm pretty [expletive] off.”