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Native American vote likely to have Super Tuesday sway

The Democratic primary election kicks into high gear March 3 when 14 states hold primaries, and American Samoa a caucus, on Super Tuesday.

There are 1,344 pledged delegates at stake – almost 34% of the nationwide total.

(Florida’s presidential preference primary is March 17).

Analysts have been keeping an eye on Native American voters in general this year. The Native American vote has already helped elect Democrats in some statewide races.

But primary watchers say Super Tuesday results will also give Democrats an idea of what Native American voters want, and could provide insight for down-ballot races in the Great Plains, the Upper Midwest and the South. 

Delaney After Buffalo, left, and Tara Benally register Shaye Holiday to vote in Monument Valley, Utah in 2018. (Photo Stateline/PEW Charitable Trusts.)

On Super Tuesday, officials say Native Americans are likely to specifically play an outsized role in primaries in Minnesota, Oklahoma and Colorado.

“American Indian … votes can be a tipping point in these states,” Kevin Allis, CEO of the National Congress of American Indians, said. 

Allis was quoted in a story by The Daily Yonder, published by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies. The publication provides news, commentary, and analysis about and for rural America.

The Native American influence is partially due to the rural nature of Minnesota, Oklahoma and Colorado. Even though a majority (about 60%) of Native Americans live in metropolitan counties, as a whole it represents the highest percentage of rural residents of any U.S. racial group.

The Daily Yonder points out, however, that the Native American vote is not a monolith, and policy priorities (and voter turnout) vary by community, culture, region and individual.

Nevertheless, some notable Democrats have found much needed support went they made Native American issues a priority, including Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Those candidates prioritized tribal issues and ran on platforms elevating tribal sovereignty. In turn, Native voters came out.

The Daily Yonder breaks down what’s at stake in Minnesota (with 11 tribal nations), Oklahoma (home to 39 federally-recognized tribes) and Colorado (with at least 2% of the population identifying as Native American).

Read the profiles and full Daily Yonder story here.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at