“The End of the Conservatives”–South Dakota’s Red/Blue Breakdown


I heard this comment on Dakota Midday (SD Public Radio) today– a caller on their post-election coverage program.

The host questioned the caller’s idea that in such a red state we can call this election the “end of conservatives.”  But I think perhaps what he meant (or how I took it) was that it’s the end of the politics and the people who haven’t been conserving anything but their own jobs and profits and getting away with it by appealing to a deep-seated desire in this rather old-fashioned state to conserve South Dakotans’ culture and heritage and good lives.

Some other points of interest about this supposedly red state.  Yes, McCain won here, but if you live here and you look at the map, you’ll see an obvious breakdown.  Obama took every county that encompasses an Indian Reservation but two (we have nine reservations), plus every county that encompasses a state college or university besides Black Hills State and the School of Mines–both West River, and both likely influenced by the presence of Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The two reservation-encompassing counties that Obama didn’t take show a serious Obama lean in certain Native-heavy precincts. A quick scan bears this out: Lower Brule Precinct in Lyman County went 91% for Obama, but it wasn’t enough to overwhelm the McCain margin in every other precinct in that county.

Eight out of thirteen precincts in Charles Mix County (Yankton Reservation) went for Obama, but that wasn’t enough to overturn the McCain majority in the other five precincts.  I’m not sure what effect, if any, the Mennonite and Hutterite votes had in those counties and precincts.

Obama took Shannon County (Pine Ridge) by 89% to McCain’s 10%–that’s a bigger margin than Obama’s win in Hawai’i–surpassed on a state/district level only by his winning margin in Washington, D.C.  Obviously, there are a heck of a lot fewer people living on Pine Ridge than living in Hawaii–a little over three thousand people cast their votes in Shannon County according to SD Secretary of State Chris Nelson’s website.

Cruising down the red and blue comparison bars by county in the above link, I think you’ll see that the gap between those bars is much less than you might expect.  South Dakota is turning purple, and its residents are beginning to see that the blue side of the aisle is doing a lot more conserving than the so-called conservatives.

Don’t write us off here in South Dakota–there’s a progressive streak emerging here based on a strong desire for real conservation.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Claire on November 5, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Did you notice the EXACT tie in Jerauld County? This is my first SD election and I have to say that the smaller population makes the voting a heck of a lot more fun. My vote was just kinda lost in a sea of votes in CA.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on November 5, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Yes–I did notice that. Looking closely at the numbers by county, and even by precinct, is incredibly fascinating!

  3. Posted by Kelsey on November 10, 2008 at 7:51 am

    I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple years arguing with people both in and out of state about this perception of SD is extremely conservative (a perception that, at least in recent years, seems pretty tied to these stupid abortion bans). I know we’re a little sheltered here in Vermillion, but I really never believed the rest of the state was as conservative as people made it out to be and I think Tuesday night’s results bore that out. In fact, I think if we really got organized, we could turn SD at least as blue as Iowa:)

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