In an election for the open US Senate seat in South Dakota today, 8 weeks to Election Day, Republican Mike Rounds maintains an 11-point advantage over Democrat Rick Weiland, who himself is just 3 points ahead of Independent Larry Pressler, according to SurveyUSA research conducted for KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, KOTA-TV in Rapid City and the Aberdeen American News. The broadly-focused survey of the entire South Dakota political landscape focuses on much more than just the US Senate race, but let’s start there.
Today, it’s Rounds 39%, Weiland 28%, Pressler 25%, and Independent Gordon Howie at 3%. Rounds is supported by just 61% of Republicans and by just 66% of conservatives – and yet, that may be enough to win the seat. Weiland is supported by 56% of Democrats and by 55% of South Dakota’s (very few) liberals. The older you are, the less likely you are to vote for Rounds: he leads by 3 points among seniors, by 6 points among voters age 50 to 64, by 9 points (over Pressler, who is in 2nd place in this age group) among voters age 35 to 49, and by 10 points among the youngest voters. Rounds leads by 15 points among men and by 7 points among women. Rounds also leads, by 22 points, among South Dakota’s highest-income voters.
Pressler, who held the seat as a Republican for 3 terms before being defeated in 1996 by incumbent Democrat Tim Johnson, has support across the board, but it is clear that in 2014 he takes more votes away from the Democrat Weiland than from the Republican Rounds. 29% of Democrats vote for Pressler, compared to 21% of Republicans, and compared to 31% of Independents. SurveyUSA asked Pressler supporters who they would vote for if Pressler were not on the ballot. 55% of Pressler voters say they would vote for the Democrat Weiland. 23% say they would vote for the Republican Rounds. 12% would vote for the Independent Howie. If, in fact, Pressler did drop from the race, and if Pressler’s supporters did exactly what they tell SurveyUSA here that they would do, the Senate contest would be a toss-up: 44% Rounds to 42% Weiland.
The SD Senate contest is not unlike the situation in Kansas, where the anti-Republican vote appeared to be larger than the Republican vote, but was divided among multiple candidates until one of them last week withdrew. In Kansas, the Republicans already hold the Senate seat; in South Dakota, the seat currently held by Democrat Tim Johnson is open, as Johnson is not seeking a fourth term.
In the election for South Dakota’s representative to the US House, incumbent Republican Kristi Noem today defeats Democratic challenger Corinna Robinson 53% to 40%. Among voters who say that the economy is the most important issue in their vote for Congress, Noem leads by 10 points. Among voters who say that healthcare is the most important issue, Robinson leads by 4 points. Noem is above 50% in every age group. She leads by 24 points among men and by 4 points among women.
In the election for South Dakota’s Secretary of State, Republican Shantel Krebs today defeats Democrat Angelia Schultz 41% to 31%, with 3rd-party candidates siphoning 11% of the vote, and 17% of likely voters undecided on the contest.
On Constitutional Amendment Q, which would allow certain types of gambling in the city of Deadwood, Yes leads No by 16 points, 44% to 28%, with 29% not certain how they will vote. Younger voters support Q. Older voters oppose. Among the wealthiest South Dakotans, the measure leads by 34 points.
Initiated Measure 18, which would increase the state minimum wage, passes 3:1 today. Initiated Measure 17, which would change how insurance companies display health-care providers, Yes leads No 7:1 … but 57% (the overwhelming majority) of South Dakota’s likeliest voters say they are not certain how they will vote on 17.
Finally, in the election for Governor of South Dakota, incumbent Republican Dennis Daugaard defeats Democrat Susan Wismer today by 20 points, 54% to 34%. Daugaard is above 50% among men and women, and in all age groups. Among voters who say that economic development is the most important issue in their vote for Governor, Daugaard leads by 41 points. Among voters who say that Medicaid is the most important issue in their vote for Governor and among voters who say that teacher pay is the most important issue, Daugaard and Wismer are effectively even.
Cell-phone and home-phone respondents included in this research: SurveyUSA interviewed 775 South Dakota adults 09/03/14 through 09/07/14. Of the adults, 674 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 510 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 (landline) telephone (88% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (12% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their tablet, smartphone, or other electronic device.