White House

Guess Which U.S. County Most Loves Obama


Native American riders at the rodeo chutes in Pine Ridge, S.D.

Photograph by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters via Corbis

Native American riders at the rodeo chutes in Pine Ridge, S.D.

With the 2012 U.S. election returns now complete, it’s possible to analyze the data and learn some surprising things. Via my Bloomberg colleague Gregory Giroux, here’s one of them: On Election Day, the most pro-Obama county in the entire United States was in South Dakota—and its population is less than 1 percent African American.

The honor goes to Shannon County, tucked into the southwest corner of South Dakota with a population of about 13,000. Ninety-three percent of the county’s voters supported Obama, the highest percentage of any county in the country. A notable fact about Shannon County: Its population is 94.2 percent Native American—it is home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation—and only .08 percent black.

That makes it unusual among intensely pro-Obama counties, which tend to be majority black. Sure enough, the ensuing seven on Giroux’s list are all majority black counties. An additional majority Native American county—Menominee, Wisc.—comes in at No. 9, while Starr County, Tex., and its 96-percent Hispanic population rounds out the top 10.

While Obama is clearly popular in parts of southwestern South Dakota, it’s probably more accurate to call Shannon Country “pro-Democrat” than “pro-Obama.” According to a local television station, the county has twice before cast the highest percentage of votes for a Democratic presidential candidate—85 percent for John Kerry in 2004 and 88 percent for Barack Obama in 2008.

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Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.

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