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Posts published in “Day: October 20, 2014”

Two weeks to go

trahant MARK


I am hoping that my ballot is in the mail today. I am ready to vote.

What I really like about voting early is that it’s an inoculation against all the TV and Internet ads. Once I have voted, I know that I am just wasting campaign or special interest money.
So here we are two weeks to go until the formal Election Day and counting of ballots.

Remember two years ago Indian Country voters outperformed. As I wrote then, this smallest demographic slice of the population made a difference in the outcomes in Montana and South Dakota races for the U.S. Senate (the only two states Nate Silver called wrong).

In 2014 these are my three elections to watch: Alaska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Two of those states have tight Senate races (the latest Real Clear Politics look at the average of all polls estimates a Republican pick-up of 8 seats, enough for a Senate majority.)

South Dakota is now polling within the margin of error for a four-way race. That means the race is essentially tied and it will be won by the campaign that’s best organized to get their voters to the polls.
Former Gov. Mike Rounds, the Republican in the race, is viewed unfavorably by more than half of those surveyed, 51 percent, and that could lead a lot of conservatives to vote for Gordie Howie, an independent. In the most recent poll, Howie is earning about 5 percent support. As more of the national talk, however, focuses on either independent Larry Pressler or the Democrat Rick Weiland, I think this makes Howie more likely to get Tea Party support. So watch: if Howie gets more than 5 percent, that will come from Rounds and make it more likely that Pressler or Weiland wins.

And which one? That really depends on Indian Country. Will there be a turnout and consistent vote for one or the other. President Obama won nearly 3,000 votes from Shannon County in 2012, 93.4 percent of the vote. Can that number grow as voters consider changing the name of the county to Oglala Lakota County? My guess is that Weiland will get the majority of those votes, but the bigger question is can he get a large percentage, 80 or even 90 percent? (If you look through the 2014 election map and every blue county is an American Indian homeland.)

The other thing to watch is early voting numbers. The bigger the early returns, the more likely outcome favoring Weiland.

Turning to Wisconsin. The hot race in this state is for governor — and there are several issues that impact Indian Country, including mining policy. Polls show this as a tight race. Two factors that are hard to see how they will play out is the increased number of jobs and the drop in gas prices. Both are good news — so it’s a matter of perception (Are the governor’s policies responsible? Or does the president get credit?)

The Native Vote Program for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters has a goal of increasing the Native American turnout by 6 percent. To put that challenge in perspective: The turnout of Native voters was only 34 percent in the last governor’s election while the general turnout was 52 percent. That means there is a lot of room for growth. Especially with early vote. (Just think: With early voting, a community could even hit 100 percent turnout.)

I’ll have a lot more to say about Alaska this week. The First Alaskans Institute’s Youth and Elders Conference is underway in Anchorage (Shoni Schimmel speaks today, yay!) and Thursday is the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. Both are big deals — especially during an election year.
Gotta run. Idaho needs my ballot mailed back.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Coho largely restored by Nez Perce (Boise Statesman)
Reviewing the legislative rulemaking amendment (Boise Statesman)
Looking at online schooling (Moscow News)
Pullman starts with budget hearings (Moscow News)
Percentage of college-bound students fell in 2013 (TF Times News)
Dog shooting still dogging city of Filer (TF Times News)

US House 5 a cooler race this time (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene deals with sick leave rule specifics (Eugene Register Guard)
Kitzhaber’s campaign battered by scandals (Medford Tribune)
Medford schools may try all-day kindergarten (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing Portland ‘re-entry court’ (Portland Oregonian)
The 5th U.S. House district race, uneven (Salem Statesman Journal)

Expensive, negative state Senate race in 35th (Bremerton Sun)
Annual salmon run is about to start (Bremerton Sun)
Review of Y.S. House 2 contest, Larsen favored (Everett Herald)
Forks people uneasy about Navy electronic war plan (Longview News)
Centralia Power plant top WA greenhouse gas producer (Olympian)
Examining how a legal pot operation works (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles may make deal for smart parking meters (Port Angeles News)
Lead poisoning at Belleview gun range (Seattle Times)
Second part of problems with foster care (Spokane Spokesman)
I-90 overpass to get local funding (Spokane Spokesman)
Reviewing two-R 4th district U.S. House race (Tacoma News Tribune)