This election Indian Country was like America. Perhaps only more so.
This is Trahant Reports.
Most American Indian and Alaska Natives voted for Hillary Clinton. There were not enough votes to make a difference in red states like Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota. Just enough votes to stay the course in blue states like New Mexico, Washington or Oregon. And, most important, not nearly enough votes in the swing states.
Hillary Clinton earned 60, 839,922 votes to Donald J. Trump’s 60,265,858. But that, of course, is not the way we elect the national leader and Trump’s 290 electoral votes were more than enough to win.
If you look at a color coded 2012 election map Indian Country pops out. There are bright blue pools of voters in deeply red states. Shannon County (now Oglala Lakota County) voted 93.4 percent for Obama. That’s Pine Ridge. Obama won 3/4s of the vote in Rolette County, North Dakota, which includes the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas.
Or next door in Montana, voters from the Fort Peck Reservation came out and led the county with 56.5 percent voting for Obama. But blue faded in the red states this election. Trump picked up 200 more votes than Mitt Romney in 2012, but the real number is that nearly 600 fewer voters went for Hillary Clinton compared to Barack Obama.
Same story in Oglala Lakota Country. Clinton won, and by a large margin, but with 500 fewer votes than Obama.
In Rolette County nearly 1,300 fewer votes for Clinton.
The red states did not change because of that but it’s a good indication about how tepid the support for Clinton was, even in Indian Country.
This story played out in blue states, too. More than 2,000 voters disappeared in McKinley County on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.
And, in swing states, such as Arizona, that slight difference, a few hundred people who did not vote here and there, added up to real numbers. In Apache County, where the majority of the voters are Navajo, 17,147 picked Obama four years ago. This election only 12,196 voted for Clinton.
Indian Country will make a difference in future elections. The demographic makeup of the country is changing fast and we are a part of that.
I also think it’s clear that Clinton took Indian Country for granted. There was no attempt to learn
and execute what worked from the Bernie Sanders campaign.
And ignoring Standing Rock was a sure way to turn off Native voters. There was probably a “let’s get past the election” conversation, although eventually Tim Kane did weigh in, but nothing changed the narrative that Clinton represented more corporate power, not less. Supporting Standing Rock would have been the right call.
Yet that might be the essence of Hillary Clinton and why she lost. Her campaign was a package of powerful interests trying to market itself as the voice of ordinary people. Indian Country’s answer was, yeah, whatever. Meh.
I am Mark Trahant.