Native American Voters | VideoAlex Hagan | 11/7/2012
A margin of only a couple thousand votes gave Democratic Candidate Heidi Heitkamp the edge in yesterdays election. So what gave her the edge? The answer might have come out of Sioux and Rolette counties.
"Heidi knew from the beginning that this was going to be a close election and the difference could be the turnout at Standing Rock and Rolette County and Fort Berthold and Fort Totten," said Tracy Potter with the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation.
Potter says the difference more than likely came out of the two counties. More than 80 percent of voters in Sioux County voted in favor of Heitkamp. In Rolette County, a margin of almost 3,000 votes went towards the Democratic candidate.
"Native Americans declared for Heidi and they put her in office," Potter said.
But why did the majority of Native Americans vote Democrat? UTTC president David Gipp says visiting the Reservations makes the difference.
"I think the consistency of request or appearances by Democratic candidates was much stronger than Republican candidates."
Gipp says Heitkamp visited the Standing Rock Reservation twice during her campaign. He says asking for the vote and sending a message sways their vote.
"If I can`t come up to you and shake your hand and look you in the eye and you don`t ask me for the vote, the likelihood is will you vote for me."
Potter says if Native Americans get out to the polls they will vote Democrat.
"If they show up they generally vote 80 to 85 percent for the Democrats."
In future elections, Native Americans could make the difference between winning and losing.
Native Americans in North Dakota have also shown support for Democrats in previous elections.