There’s plenty of post-election analysis floating around, ranging from not so good to average or so. The Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor are among those focusing on the race in the context of Democratic efforts to control the House. For some reason, the New York Times led its story indicating the vote was sending a message to Bush about his Iraq policies. It wasn’t until the 12th paragraph that the article noted that Herseth “steadfastly refused to criticize Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy.” I actually think Mike Madden of Gannett News Service came closest, indicating that we won’t know until November whether the vote was a sign voters are sick of Bush and his policies or that a well-known Democrat barely held on to win a race against a Republican who started with far less name recognition.
Noticeably absent from much discussion is the vote on the Indian reservations or by the Native American community. As with Tim Johnson, the voters in Shannon County and Todd County could be said to have won the election for Herseth.
Statewide, she won by 2,981 votes. In Shannon and Todd counties, she won by 3,184 votes. She got 94 percent of the vote in Shannon County (equal to the percentage of the county’s Native American population, the highest of any county in the country). She got 84 percent of the vote in Todd County, again roughly equal to the percentage of the population that is Native American. (According to the Census Bureau, these counties were the fourth and fifth poorest counties in the nation in 1999.) Herseth also polled extremely well in Buffalo County (81 percent) and Dewey County (75 percent), numbers again basically equal to the percentage of Native American population in each.
Personally, I wasn’t surprised how close the race was. In fact, I thought there was a realistic chance Diedrich would win. I think many voters really like Herseth but I’m not quite so sure how they view her on issues, though. I also think there is some concern about an all-Democrat congressional delegation and wonder how that will play out in November when both Herseth and Daschle have strong opposition. Certainly, the huge gap Diedrich closed can’t make the Herseth or DCCC people feel very comfortable and the Dems may need to get her some prime assignments and work in DC.
Two final notes. Despite an e-mail complaint to the Secretary of State’s election supervisor (with a copy to the Minnehaha County auditor) about the sign discussed below, I have yet to receive a response or an acknowledgement. Second, you gotta wonder when Lyndon LaRouche outpolls Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic presidential primary. Interestingly, LaRouche did best in Buffalo County (12 percent) and Shannon County (10 percent).