Undeniably, Native Voters turned out in a BIG way this year, making key differences in important races. During last week's post election webinar, the Native Vote campaign brought you preliminary results of this unprecedented turnout, as well as a special video to thank Native Vote coordinators, partners, and volunteers for their dedication and hard work. Click here to download the presentation.
Native Vote Highlights of the 2012 Election
Native Vote Influenced Key Races- Our Bipartisan Opportunity
The Post-Election Webinar underscored the bipartisan opportunity presented by the election results. NCAI Executive Director, Jacqueline Pata noted on the webinar that "just two years ago, we were outlining the path that a commonsense moderate Republican, from my own state of Alaska, [Senator Lisa Murkowski] took to engage tribes and ultimately win an historic reelection." In 2012 we saw Native people support the President's reelection, candidates in close Senate races, and leading members of the House, like Chickasaw citizen, Congressman Tom Cole. These candidates were all successful in part because of their strong engagement with tribal nations.
The 113th Congress will seek a bipartisan tone and Indian Country is ready to move our priorities forward with our champions on both sides of the aisle.
The Native Vote made a key difference in the North Dakota Senate race. Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp's victory was won by 2,994 votes. Her net vote gain in the three counties with reservations and high Native population was 4,282. Jacqueline Pata, NCAI Executive Director said on the Post Election Webinar, "She won the Native Vote because she is a commonsense moderate who has worked closely with tribes as Attorney General and understands the importance of our nation-to-nation relationship."
The House of Representatives, thanks to Oklahoma, now has two Native members of Congress - Tom Cole (R) who won re-election easily and now Markwayne Mullin (R), an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation who won the open seat to replace retiring Congressman Dan Boren (D).
Congressman Tom Cole, Chickasaw citizen and co-chair of the House Native American Caucus, won 68% of the overall vote. Congressman-elect Markwayne Mullin won his race with 57% (143,253) of the votes in Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District. The 2nd District has one of the highest percentages of Native voters in the country.
Incumbent Senator John Tester was re-elected by a narrow margin with help from the Native Vote. Senator Tester acknowledged before the election that his success would be built on turnout on Montana's Indian reservations and Native voters rewarded the Senator for his close engagement with tribal nations.
The Native Vote and Voter ID
The Native Vote campaign focused national attention on the issue of voter ID with the release of a report identifying six "states of concern." The constitutional amendment to require photo ID in Minnesota was one race where Native voters had a chance to make their voice heard. The final results showed that high Native population precincts voted "no" by almost 10 points above the state average. One of the state's largest Native districts voted "no" at the stunning rate of 86 percent. This was a big victory for the freedom of Native people to vote in Minnesota.
High Registration Rates
In Montana and New Mexico, Native Americans are registered to vote at a higher rate than that of any other racial/ethnic group:
Widespread and persistent registration efforts throughout Indian Country, influenced these registration rates. Native Vote Action Week provided an encouraging push to Native Voters to register and hit the polls on Election Day.
Exit Polls Show Opportunity in Lame Duck and Beyond
Analysis of exit polls showed voters sharing many concerns that are top tribal priorities in the Lame Duck session and for the 113th Congress. With more than 6 in 10 voters focused on the economy, tribes have an opportunity to underscore that tribes are a good investment and that the Lame Duck presents an opportunity to protect the Indian Country budget and ensure certainty with respect to Indian lands by addressing the Carcieri and Patchak decisions.
There was significant turnout among women voters who gave the President winning margins in many states. With two Senate races decided by candidate statements on reproductive rights & violence against women there is an opportunity to refocus the Congress' attention on passing the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization with the tribal provisions intact.
Finally, voters on the East Coast went to the polls as their communities recovered from "Superstorm Sandy." There are few more stark reminders of the importance of passing Stafford Act amendments that allow tribes to make direct requests to the President for disaster declarations.
The Native Vote team will be producing additional detailed analysis of voter registration and turnout in the coming months. Stay tuned for future updates.
The campaign would like to thank all Native Vote coordinators, partners, and volunteers for your time, hard work, and dedication to help turn out the largest Native Vote ever this year. We couldn't have done any of this without your help. Please enjoy this video as a token of our deep appreciation.
The work to increase civic engagement throughout Indian Country is just getting started- we looking forward to our continued work with you in the months and years to come.