Here’s two election results from the southwestern part of South Dakota:
Presidential results, District 27:
- Obama: 60.3 percent
- Romney: 39.7 percent
State House results, District 27:
- Killer (D): 45.0 percent
- May (R): 36.3 percent
- Ann (I): 18.7 percent
Kathleen Ann, the independent candidate and odd person out, was really a Democrat, on the ballot because incumbent Democratic Rep. Ed Iron Cloud (unopposed in 2010) didn’t file for reelection on time.
So how did among the most Democratic districts in the state, home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, elect a Republican to the Legislature?
Jim Bradford, the district’s state senator and a Democrat, said people shouldn’t be surprised.
“I thought it came out just exactly like I predicted it would,” said Bradford. “(Republican Elizabeth May has) been here for a large number of years, she ran before, and we’ve elected a House Republican representative once before. I also was elected as a Republican senator.”
It ultimately came down to community ties, Bradford said.
May, who runs a grocery store in Kyle, “is very much a part of the community,” he said.
Ann lived in the far eastern part of Pennington County, a new addition to District 27.
“It’s nothing against Ann,” Bradford said. “She’s probably a good candidate. But being an independent is hard, because basically she had been a Democrat. And being brand new into our whole community, that was tough for her.”
People in District 27 are “much more politically intelligent than most people give them credit for,” Bradford said. “You kind of need to do a job, otherwise you’re not going to get in on the fact that you have a ‘D’ next to your name.”
Of course, if just highly Democratic Shannon County — where Obama earned a whopping 93.4 percent — had voted, Ann would be in the Legislature. But not by much.
The Shannon County results gave Kevin Killer 2,616 votes, Ann 629 votes and May 508 votes.
The rest of the district is far more Republican than Shannon County, though also less populated. In non-Shannon County District 27, Romney won 2,495 votes to 1,155 for Obama; Killer won 1,069 votes to 2,471 for May and 905 for Ann.
So May, in a good Republican year, racked up a ton of votes outside the Democratic stronghold of Shannon County.
But that wouldn’t have been enough if Shannon County had voted for Ann, the Democrat in independent’s clothing. Instead, she underperformed Killer by 2,000 votes there, leading to a 1,500-vote disadvantage to May across the district.
If Democrats do everything right, District 27 should be a safe district for them, by voter registration. But as May, and previously Bradford, have shown, Republicans with strong community ties can get elected there, especially when Democrats goof up.