Shiprock, Tsaile to Host Last Two Forums
TWIN ARROWS, Ariz. – Last month’s conventional wisdom: A wave of populism came the way of Navajo Nation presidential candidate Tom Chee.
That was the gist of a recent exit poll conducted by the Diné Policy Institute of Diné College. DPI staff and interns, conducted an exit poll at the most recent Navajo Nation Presidential Forum held at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort on July 27, 2018 near Flagstaff, Arizona.
The Navajo Times and KTNN Radio asked the Navajo Nation’s Office of Government Development and DPI to conduct the exit poll. The poll was done to see which candidate voters attending the forum are most likely to vote for in the upcoming Navajo Nation Primary Election on Aug. 28. DPI and the Office of Government Development created a survey that ranged from demographics to questions about issues and presidential choice.
The top two vote getters in the Aug. 28 primary advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
“We were asked to put a short survey together,” Franklin Sage, Ph.D., the executive director at DPI, said. “This is useful information going forward.”
Sage said some 500 surveys were distributed, with 451 returned for data collection. The survey results show that the Twin Arrows forum yielded 61 percent of poll participants identifying as female and 47 percent of the poll participants being over the age of 60. Of the 18 presidential candidates, Chee received 36% of the votes followed by current Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez with 16 percent and Emily Ellison with 8 percent. Chee is a Navajo Nation Council Delagate (Shiprock).
Sage said it can be argued that the poll is skewed because Chee is from Leupp, Arizona — which is 41 miles from Twin Arrows and a familiar face to that area. He said eight DPI interns conducted the Twin Arrows survey.
Collectively, Chee, Nez and Ellison favor economic development and are proponents of higher education.
“It is expected that each community has a candidate that they support overwhelmingly and many (Tom Chee) supporters were able to cast their vote in the survey,” Sage said. “The data we collected is for this presidential forum only and not an indicator for the winner of the primary election.”
Sage said 95 percent of poll participants are registered to vote in the Navajo Nation and only 85 percent of participants voted in the last Navajo Nation election. Additionally, Sage pointed out, many of the participants align with the Democratic Party and have a range of issues that are important to them when voting for Navajo Nation President. Approximately 15 percent of poll participants believe that business and economic development are important in their decision-making, 14 percent answered “Not Applicable” or did not respond, 8 percent said leadership and 7 percent answered both employment and Navajo tradition and language are important issue when it comes to electing a new president.
“I think all of the candidates are good, but even the best one has flaws,” Myra Tsosie, a hotel worker from Houck, Ariz., said. “Let’s see what happens at the next forum.”
Sage said DPI will continue to conduct exit polls at future presidential forums. There are forums set for the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock on Aug. 6 and then at Diné College in Tsaile on Aug. 20.
Among the 18 candidates running for president are current president Russell Begaye and former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., of Chinle.