Mark Trahant: The Native vote could decide the 2014 election

Here, from Indianz.  A quote:

If there ever was an election that was ideal for American Indians and Alaska Natives to determine the outcome, it’s 2014.

Flip through the state campaigns and six or seven Senate races are within the margin of error (depending on which polls you believe). Another ten governor’s races are within two points either way. And, even in the House of Representatives —the political version of a stacked deck — there might be surprises in store.

This election is not about the will of the country; it’s about who will cast a ballot before Tuesday. That means Indian Country’s voice could be amplified.Could be. Two words that define the difference between tipping the scales in this election or watching the outcome in January and asking, what happened?

Could be has been done before. Many times.In 1958 for example there was a three-way race for the U.S. Senate in Utah. Arthur Watkins, the champion of termination, the George Armstrong Custer of his day, should have been a shoe-in for re-election. But he barely survived a bitter primary against another conservative, J. Bracken Lee. Lee refused to give up and ran in the general election as an independent. That provided the Democrat in the race, Frank Moss, with an opportunity to win with only 38 percent of the vote. Well short of a “majority.” The American Indian vote in Utah then was small, but you have to think it contributed to the upset of Watkins. This was the termination policy itself on the ballot.That 1958 Utah race is worth thinking about in 2014 because third and fourth party candidates are stirring up trouble again.

In the South Dakota Senate race, for example, most of the polls only reflect numbers for three candidates, Republican Mike Rounds, Democrat Rick Weiland, and independent Larry Pressler. But a fourth candidate, Gordon Howe, is another conservative who has turned in some strong debate performances. When the votes are counted, every ballot that’s cast for Howe subtracts from Rounds. A candidate could win in South Dakota with even less than forty percent. (And, as I have written before, this race could put to rest the Keystone Xl pipeline.)

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