Back in August I noted that GOP gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens seemed to be trying to retroactively relocate his student vounteer work in Croatia to Bosnia. It seemed likely that he thought this little fib might influence the large Bosnian community in and around St. Louis -one of the largest in the country – to view his candidacy more favorably.
Greitens might have been on to something when it comes to courting the Bosnian bloc. The question is whether a fictitious volunteer stint in Bosnia will counter the negative appeal of Donald Trump at a time when presidential coattails can lead to victory or defeat. Apropos of which, the U.S. edition of The Guardian is carrying a story today about how the Bosnian community might bring about Trump’s downfall in Missouri.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand why Trump might roil emotions among Bosnians. Most of the local Bosnians are relatively recent immigrants and they are predominantly Muslims. Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim shtick is likely not only unappealing, but probably downright scary:
While never a monolith, Bosnian Americans in St Louis – which is home to an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Bosnian Muslims – have near-universally been put off by Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-refugee rhetoric and are wary of the Republican candidate’s popularity among Serbian nationalists. If they are mobilized as a bloc to vote against Trump for these reasons, 2016 could mark the national debut of Missouri’s “Bosnian vote”, costing Trump the state’s 10 electoral votes.
[… .] Anecdotally, community leaders estimate that voter registration in St Louis’s Bosnian community has surged by the thousands over the past two years.
The Guardian goes further and speculates that this election might help to solidify the longer-term political importance of an emerging Bosnian voting bloc:
Historically, Missouri has been a swing state, though is often assumed by pundits to be a Republican giveaway. In 2008, Republican John McCain won the state’s electoral votes by a margin of less than 1% – mere thousands of votes. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney won the state by 10%, but liberal Democrat Claire McCaskill also kept her seat in the US Senate by more than 15%. The state also has a Democrat governor.
In recent years, Bosnian voters in St Louis have asserted themselves as a potent force in local politics, and politicians – mainly Democrats – have taken notice.
One can only hope that The Guardian’s speculations bear Democratic fruit in Missouri this year, and that, as an added bonus, Greitens goes down too, tangled in Trump’s flimsy coattails if not because he’s an opportunistic poseur.