Current Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray and Tim Tall Chief are neck and neck in the principal chief votingosage.org candidate poll, with Tall Chief ahead by 19 votes as of 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The poll has generated traffic for the site, which was formed by a group of young Osages, and is so popular that nearly 1,000 people have voted in the poll – a little less than half of the number of Osages that voted in the 2006 election. Once Osages have voted many are also commenting on the many topics the site offers. Candidates can also be found commenting regularly on the site as well.
“My hope for this poll was simply meant to stir interest in this election,” Ryan Red Corn said, administrator for the site and Osage tribal member. “I don't think it will so much change the minds of voters as it will affect the behavior of the candidates.”
And it already has. Once news of the poll got out Tall Chief sent e-mails to friends asking them to vote on the poll and also noted that people didn’t have to be Osage to vote. Gray was posting to his Facebook status for his friends to vote on the poll, causing his numbers to jump in a single day, while the other candidates dropped in the rankings.
“I’m having fun with it, these online polls are designed for entertainment purposes only,” Gray said. “What I am excited about is that it gets people talking about the issues that are affecting the Nation and it’s good to see Osages getting involved with the election . . . The only vote that matters is the vote that happens on June 7.”
Leading the poll Tuesday is Tim Tall Chief with 474 votes, in second is Jim Gray with 455 votes, third place is John Red Eagle with 44 votes, fourth place is Chico Sellers with eight votes and in last is Roy St. John with five votes.
Online polls are not to be compared with a Gallup Poll, where a random sample of the population is selected to represent the entire population. Online polls are viewed as biased because a person taking the time out to participate in an online poll more than likely has a vested interest in the issue and is not a true representation of the population, according to gallup.com.
“Of course, we have no way of verifying whether or not a voter is Osage, so these poll results should not be viewed as scientific,” Red Corn said. “As for telling non-Osages to go vote, I regard that behavior as disingenuous to the validity of the office those individuals are seeking.”
Assistant Principal Chief John Red Eagle, who is also running for principal chief, said “I do have to work you know, I can’t get on Facebook all the time and tell everyone to vote.”
“I looked at it when it first came out and I knew [Jim Gray and Tim Tall Chief] had got on Facebook and was telling all their friends to vote for them,” Red Eagle said. “I knew that it was probably inaccurate, not because I’m in third place, but because you don’t have to be Osage to vote.”
St. John has no plans to campaign for people to vote for him on the poll, he said.
“I think it’s an attempt to sway votes and I have no idea how accurate it is,” St. John said.
“I don’t know if there’s anything you can do about it. If people are swayed by an election poll of this nature, and I assume some are, there’s nothing I can do about it.” “I don’t know who votes on it or that it has any accuracy, I don’t believe it’s an accurate poll and I question its validity,” St. John said.
Carl “Chico” Sellers echoed St. John’s comments. “The web site is supposed help inform all Osages regardless of their residence,” he said. “How does an unscientific, unregistered poll inform out of state Osages about candidates?”
The poll is currently for the principal chief race but Red Corn will cycle out the polls every Wednesday. This week it will change to Assistant Chief, next will be legislative and so on. Osage Minerals Council candidates will not be included in the poll.
“I think the site has been great at generating ideas, which has been its intent from the get go,” Red Corn said. “We are hoping that those ideas emerging from the discourse could be considered by our elected officials.”
Tim Tall Chief did not respond for comment for this article.
[Editor’s Note: After this story published administrator of votingosage.org, Ryan Red Corn, changed the poll to a different topic: “If you were a food, what would you be?”]