In South Dakota, Rounds Atop Weiland for Open US Senate Seat; Minimum Wage Increase Backed Big; Republican Daugaard a Shoo-In for Re-Election as Governor; Voters Not Yet Focused on Measure 17

SurveyUSA Operations - 05/14/14 07:00 PM

In an election today 05/12/14 for the open United States Senate seat in South Dakota, Republican Mike Rounds defeats Democrat Rick Weiland 44% to 30%, with former Republican Larry Pressler, running now as an Independent, at 17%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, KOTA-TV in Rapid City and the Aberdeen American News. There is much to examine in this survey that covers the South Dakota political landscape, but let’s focus first on the Senate Race.

6 months to Election Day, in a contest that could help determine whether Republicans take control of the US Senate in 2014, Rounds holds 72% of the Republican base, compared to Weiland, who holds 59% of the Democratic base. Pressler appears to hurt the Democrat Weiland, taking 17% of the Democratic vote, compared to taking 12% of the Republican vote. Pressler gets 31% of the independent vote. Rounds has a slight advantage among the remaining independents, 33% to 25%.

Rounds leads by 19 points among men and by 10 points among women. Rounds leads by 24 points among voters under age 50, and by 9 points among voters age 50+. An overwhelming number of South Dakotans say that either the economy or health care is the most important issue in their vote for Senate, and Rounds leads decisively among both those voters focused on the economy and those focused on health care. Upper income voters prefer Rounds 2:1. Weiland makes a comparatively stronger showing among lower-income voters, but still trails there 37% to 33%. White voters vote Republican. Native Americans vote Democratic.

Rounds is viewed favorably by 45% of likely voters, unfavorably by 35%, for a Plus 10 Net Favorability Rating. Rounds is viewed favorably by 65% of Republicans, unfavorably by 53% of Democrats.
Weiland is viewed favorably by 33% of likely voters, unfavorably by 19%, for a Plus 14 Net Favorability Rating. 51% of Democrats view Weiland favorably, but among Republicans, 36% are neutral on Weiland, compared to 28% who see him unfavorably.
Larry Pressler is viewed favorably by 29%, unfavorably by 27%, for a Plus 2 . Pressler is viewed favorably by 24% of conservatives, 33% of moderates and 37% of liberals. Pressler is viewed unfavorably by 31% of Republicans and 24% of Democrats and Independents.

In the contest for Governor, incumbent Republican Dennis Daugaard defeats Democrat Susan Wismer by 33 points and defeats Democrat Joe Lowe by 36 points, in hypothetical head-to-head matchups today. Independent Michael Myers gets 11% to 13% of the vote, depending on which Democrat is on the November ballot.

Daugaard is viewed favorably by 50% of likely voters, unfavorably by 19%, for a Plus 31 Net Favorability Rating, an unusually high number possible only with a broad coalition of support. For example: Republican Daugaard is viewed unfavorably by only 32% of Democrats.
Wismer is viewed favorably by 9%, unfavorably by 10%, for a Minus 1 . 81% of likely voters have a neutral opinion of Wismer, or have no opinion of her at all.
Joe Lowe is viewed favorably by 4%, unfavorably by 11%, for a Minus 7 . 86% of likely voters have a neutral opinion of Lowe, or no opinion of him at all.

Two thirds of South Dakota likely voters are not focused yet on Initiated Measure 17, which would require health insurers to include all willing and qualified health care providers on their provider lists. Of those who have made up their minds, 28% are certain to vote Yes on 17, 7% are certain to vote No on 17. Any outcome is possible, 6 months to the general election.

Voters are much more focused on Initiated Measure 18, which would increase the minimum wage in South Dakota from $7.25 to $8.50. Today, 61% vote Yes on 18, 19% vote No. Opposition to 18 is strongest among conservatives, Republicans and upper-income voters.

By 3:1, South Dakota voters support construction of a pipeline through South Dakota that would transport crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Opposition to a pipeline is strongest among Native Americans, Democrats and liberals.

Cell-phone and home-phone respondents included in this research: SurveyUSA interviewed 750 South Dakota adults 05/06/14 through 05/10/14. Of the adults, 649 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 504 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the 11/04/14 general election. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (91% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (9% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. In the contest for United States Senator, incumbent Tim Johnson is retiring.

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