Politics and place

I’ve always known my views on social and political issues place me in a minority in South Dakota. But last week I learned that if I want to leave with South Dakotans who more closely share my views, I need to move — to a reservation.

An outfit called Clarity Campaign does political analytics. Among its public projects is What Town Matches My Politics?. By selecting whether your agreement or disagreement in seven different topics or whether it doesn’t really matter, you can find what towns in each state that match your politics. My results, in order: Marty (Yankton Reservation); Lower Brule (Lower Brule Reservation); and, Okreek, Rosebud and Saint Francis (all on the Rosebud Reservation). I might also point out that the Rosebud Reservation includes all of Todd County, perennially one of the poorest counties in the nation.

I think the results are relatively easy to explain, though. The very first question is whether a person identifies more with Democrats or Republicans. I lean more toward the Democrats and What Town Matches My Politics? indicates there’s an 82% probability a resident of Marty will be a Democrat. As for the prevalence of towns on the Rosebud, Todd County is one of only 17 in the state where Democrats outnumber Republicans. Its registered voters are 69% Democrat and only 16% Republican. Notably, if I express a preference for urban areas, Spearfish is second on the list and Sioux Falls is third although their compatibility comparisons are lower that if I don’t include such a preference.

The politics of reservations shows up in neighboring states. In Nebraska, Macy, the home of the Omaha Tribe, is first and Winnebago, home of the Winnebago Tribe, is fourth. In North Dakota, the top two are on the Standing Rock Reservation and the third is on the Turtle Rock Reservation. In Minnesota, though, it’s Minneapolis across the board. As for more distant locales, it appears I should live in Cambridge, Mass.; Miami; New York City; Portland; or San Francisco.

But if I’m going to base life choices on number crunching, I’ll take Kahului on the island of Maui.

It’s easier to die than to move … at least for the Other Side you don’t need trunks.

Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

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