The Arizona Indigenous electorate, overall, should be recognized for helping flip Arizona from red to blueish this historic election year — only the second time in 68 years the state has favored a Democratic president. It’s emblematic of the small but significant swing vote that Natives have represented this year and in the past. This election cycle, Arizona was one of the last states to be called by a majority of news outlets, despite early announcements made on Election Night from the Associated Press and Fox News, both declaring Biden the winner. Most newsrooms waited longer than a week — late Thursday, November 12 — to make the call. In that holding pattern, a tribal newspaper, a Native professor, a former presidential hopeful, and a Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton were among those eager to frame demographic analysis of Arizona’s voter turnout in ways that inflated Native American support for Biden — 97 percent — and with particular credit to Navajo voters. The data discrepancy that went wildly viral was ultimately fact-checked by USA Today. It turns out, among Arizona’s Indigenous electorate, the biggest support for Biden didn’t come from the Navajo Nation, but from a county no one is talking about — Pima County. Few if any journalists have written about Native voters from the other 21 federally recognized tribes in the state. Indigenously has been examining Native voter turnout across Arizona’s 15 counties with a concentrated focus on the dozens of reservation-based precincts, including the Navajo Nation. Here are a few key takeaways from our datasets:
With a lot of talk about Native voting in Arizona. I thought I would share 2 maps. The left is a map showcasing all 22 tribes in the state. The right an updated 2020 voting results maps by precinct. This give you an idea of how Indigenous communities voted in the 2020 election. pic.twitter.com/scrWENDVO2— Shondiin Silversmith⁷ (@DiinSilversmith) November 6, 2020
What’s not impossible is tracking Native voter turnout by reservations which makes it truly startling to realize how such reporting has not really happened before following an election cycle — also something that should change. While reservation-based election data is an imperfect representation of the overall Indigenous electorate (roughly 70 percent of Natives live in cities and towns), it casts a credible light on voting trends that otherwise have been invisible. So, while the Native Vote isn’t code for “Navajo,” nor is it limited to Arizona’s Indigenous electorate. From Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Montana, it’s good to see the power of the small but significant Native Vote across Indian Country finally get the overdue respect and attention it deserves. Election SOS Fellows Miacel Spotted Elk and Tsanavi Spoonhunter contributed to this article.
Have you signed up for our newsletter #SomethingElse–ly?— SomethingElsely (@indigenous_ly) November 5, 2020
In our next edition, we deep dive into data distortion of Native voters recently called "something else" by @CNN. Well also explain polls like the AP VoteCast.
Newsletter drops Friday. Sign up. It's free. 🔗 Link in Bio. pic.twitter.com/yiJ01rwufs
Jenni Monet is a journalist and tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna. She reports on Indigenous rights and injustice in the U.S. and the world. This article originally appeared independently at Indigenously.
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