Posts Tagged ‘House’

Republicans Damage the Constitution In Order To Save It

Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 12:54 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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Three fifths madisonMy father once told me that the difference between the two parties is simple: the Democrats are stupid whereas the Republicans are just plain dumb.  That bit of wisdom has held up well, though not always in the same proportion at the same time.

Today the Republicans did something smart and promptly turned it into something really dumb.  Reading the Constitution was the smart thing.  The founding document possesses enormous authority and reverence toward it is altogether proper.

The dumb thing was to read an “amended version”.  The text they read, I gather, removed all the language that has been superseded by amendments.  There is a lot of language in the Constitution that isn’t in the Constitution anymore, in a legal sense.  For example, the original text states that senators are chosen by the state legislatures, but that was changed by the Seventeenth Amendment to election by the people of each state.  I gather that the original language of the text was changed to reflect later amendments.  I can’t seem to find a complete audio version to check.

This was politically dumb because you surely undermines your case for fidelity to the original document by producing a new, edited document that no ratifying body ever saw.  It was dumb also because it invited folks like Dahlia Lithwick at Slate to accuse the Republicans of “whitewashing the Constitution” by leaving out the passages about slavery.  It was dumb because it looks dumb.

It was also dumb because the very passages that we are now justly ashamed of reveal both the corruption of the American idea by slavery and also the genuine greatness of what that peculiar institution corrupted.  Here is one of the passages, I gather, that was not read in full.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, whichThree fifths madison shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

In reading the document aloud, they skipped over that last clause.  One can understand why.  Those “other persons” were slaves.  The presence of slavery in a Republic based on the principles of the Declaration of Independence exposes the founders as hypocrites.

But you can’t be a hypocrite without acknowledging, if only by pretense, that you know what is right and what is wrong.  The language above is laboriously constructed for the precise purpose of omitting the words slavery and slaves.  The founders recognized that those words would stain the document, and so they are absent from the several provisions that recognize the institution.

Moreover, the Three Fifths Compromise expresses a logical division already present in the Republic.  If those “other persons” aren’t really people, with rights and dignity, then it makes no sense to count them for purposes of representation in the House.  If they are really people, then they ought not only to be counted; they ought to be freed and given the vote.

If we hadn’t really believed what we wrote in the Declaration, the Civil War would not have been possible.  If we hadn’t practiced slavery, in blatant contradiction to what we wrote, the war would never have been necessary.  Skipping over the Three Fifths Clause throws the baby out with the very foul bathwater.

It’s a bad sign that the Republicans had no one around to point this out.  I’m available, if they are reading.  This was not an auspicious start.

The Sad State of South Dakota Democrats

Posted: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 11:47 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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mcgovernI grew up in a one party state.  I escaped in my early twenties by driving my Ford Maverick across the borders when an ice storm confused the authorities.  The one party state was Arkansas, and I can tell you that it was not a model of political excellence.

One party states encourage corruption and diminish the power of the voters to punish it.  Voters can rarely get a grasp of the powers that work around the tables, day to day, in their state government offices.  When there are two competitive parties, voters can punish large blocks of legislators.  With each party hoping to gain on the other in the next election, there is some general incentive for reducing corruption and promoting good government.  When there is only one effective party, the worst excesses result in a few individuals taking all the blame.  The larger body of scoundrels remains immune to censure.

As state governments go, the Republic of South Dakota is pretty good.  Unlike, say, California, there are fewer forces corrupting our legislative chambers and our state house.  But we should worry when one of our two great parties seems to be fading faster than tomatoes after the first frost.

Yesterday South Dakota Democrats failed to win a single state wide race.  The gubernatorial election was won by a Republican, which happens so often you’d think it’s in the state constitution.  The constitutional offices were swept by the GOP.  Our lone representative to the U.S. Congress, Representative Herseth Sandlin, lost by a narrow but sufficient margin to her Republican opponent.  To her credit, Herseth Sandlin was the only Democrat to win more than 40% of the vote in a state wide race.  Our junior U.S. Senator, John Thune, had no opponent.  This was the only non-contested Senate race in the nation and the first in the state’s history.

I heard a rumor that the Democrats decided not to field a Senate candidate in order to reduce Senator Thune’s incentive to involve himself in this year’s state politics.  I have no idea if that is true, and if it isn’t I apologize for repeating it.  If it is true, it’s damning.  I mention it because I can’t understand why else they couldn’t find someone, anyone, to run.  The uncontested race is a scandal in itself.

If all that weren’t bad enough, the showing of Democrats showing in the state legislative races was worse.  Democrats won just 20 out of the 70 seats in the state House of Representatives.  I haven’t calculated the vote totals, but that’s less than a third of the House.

It doesn’t get better in the State Senate, where Democrats won just six of thirty five seats.  That’s going to stretch those six Senators mighty thin across the Senate committees.

To say that the South Dakota Democratic Party is in disarray is misleading.  The problem is not organizational but existential.  The party is on the point of going clean out of business.  It is effectively dysfunctional.  Maybe the State House is beyond their reach, but clearly the House and Senate seats are not.  The party is going to need someone to run against Kristi Noem in two years.  Tim Johnson is going to retire, sooner or later.  In those contests, the Democrats have no bench.

South Dakota needs a viable opposition party.  It needs someone like George McGovern to reorganize it, county by county, rebuilding the local party apparatus.  Someone like Tom Daschle could have done that.  But Daschle, set free by defeat, had neither the time nor the interest for his state or its affairs.  What is Stephanie Herseth Sandlin going to do, now that she has time on her hands?  I am guessing she is not going to stick around.

There is a tragic flaw in the South Dakota Democrat.  The best of that species tend to look beyond our borders for greater things.  The voters frequently recognize that, and in an act of grace, set them free.  Meanwhile, the party withers.  This is not good for Democrats in the state, or for the state itself.

Post Mortem in the Wee Hours

Posted: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 12:25 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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For much of the last year I have been arguing with my friends at Badlands Blue and the Madville Times about the Rasmussen polls on the South Dakota U.S. House race.  They argued that Rasmussen was biased in favor of Republicans, and it appears that they were right.  Rasmussen’s last poll gave Kristi Noem a five point lead.  It looks like Noem’s margin of victory will be a little less than three percent.  I could take refuge in the margin of error, but I prefer to be magnanimous in victory.

I speak here not as a Republican but as a political nerd.  By victory I mean only that I have been predicting a Noem win based on a number of indicators.  Maybe I am biased as well, but I wasn’t wrong.

Why did Noem win?  Over the next several days there will be a lot of post mortems.  It looks to me pretty simple.  Herseth Sandlin did well in all the traditional Democratic strongholds in the state.  Noem surged everywhere else, racking up large margins in county after county.  Two things, I think, explain this.  One is that a lot more South Dakotans can identify with Kristi than with Stephanie.  The second is that the Republican wave that swept across these United States did in fact wash across South Dakota.

At this hour, it looks like the Republicans have bagged at least 57 seats in the House of Representatives.  That gave Orange John Boehner the opportunity to give an acceptance speech.  He choked up a couple of times.  He is going to be Speaker.  A lot of seats are yet to be determined, so it may well go over sixty.  It might not reach the seventies, which last happened in 1938.  It is going to be well over the Republican surge of 1994.  That might be a good thing and it might be a bad one, but it is a thang, as my Southern brethren say, and it’s a big thang.

Republicans fell short of immortal fame in the Senate races, if only because the bar was set so high.  They have bagged six Senate seats, and will probably get two more: Colorado and Alaska.  Harry Reid survived, and that is one of the great heroic stories that Democrats are well-entitled to tell.  However, Mitch McConnell will have forty-one votes when he needs them, and that changes the board.

What astonishes me about this election cycle is how stable it has been.  Fifty plus seats in the House and eight Senate seats is what the wizards have been predicting all year.  The game was fixed as early as summer a year ago.  That is food for thought.

One last Nugget of Nerd’s Candy from the House Race

Posted: Saturday, October 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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weather sdThe SD U.S. House race remains the most interesting election in South Dakota, both here and nationally.  My colleague Professor Schaff has done a great job of putting some of the numbers in perspective.  I can’t resist making some final comments.  This is my last post on this race.  No foolin’.

As weather patterns become visible to meteorologists when they create models based on pressure systems and fronts, so voting patterns become visible to political scientists when they build models consisting of voting blocks and population dynamics.

In the U.S., the most important voting blocks are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.  The outcome of an election is determined by three factors: 1) the relative size of each voting bloc; 2) the direction each bloc is moving; and 3) how much of each bloc turns out.

While candidates try very hard to influence all three of these factors, they really have only a marginal influence.  A good candidate running a good campaign can change the final outcome only if the forces are in virtual balance.  The only thing that is likely to shift the forces described above in a dramatic way is a scandal serious enough to undermine one of the candidates.

In the South Dakota House race, the first factor is easy to gage.  According to the Secretary of State’s website, voter registration numbers are:

Republican    237, 809

Democrat      194,204

Independent  85,296

That obviously gives the Republican a significant advantage but it also means that independent voters will decide the election.  If the Republican advantage over Democrats holds in the election and if independents split or break Republican, then the Republican will win.  The Democrat can win if independents break strongly enough in her direction.

Of course, some registered Republicans will vote for the Democrat and vice versa.  That is the second factor.  Professor Schaff’s post parses the numbers.  Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is a familiar incumbent and she has clearly done a good job of attracting Republican votes in the past.  According to the Keloland poll (Mason-Dixon) HS is doing a bit better at attracting Republican votes than Noem at attracting Democrats.

It seems likely that the third factor will be most important in determining the outcome here as it has been doing elsewhere.  Polls showing Herseth Sandlin leading all assume that Democratic turnout will be at least as robust this year as in the last two years.  Indeed almost all the difference in the various polls results from differences in estimating this factor.

All year long Republicans have enjoyed two major advantages in state after state.  Republican voters are turning out in large numbers and independent voters are swinging robustly toward the GOP.  This is measured not only in opinion polls but in actual elections and primary elections.  More people voted in Republican primaries this year than in Democratic primaries, something that is unprecedented.

It is possible, to be sure, that South Dakota will buck that trend.  Democrats may turn out in numbers more like those in 2008.  Republicans and independents may not show the pronounced preference for GOP candidates that the polls indicate nationally.

The only real numbers we have to go on suggest something else.  Here are the numbers of new registered voters in each voting bloc since Oct. 1st.

Republican      1,903

Independent   1,497

Democrat            900

These numbers measure two things, both of which are more real than poll samples.  One is people bothering to register to vote.  The other is people bothering to encourage them to register.  A more than two to one advantage for Republicans over Democrats suggests that the national GOP wave is building here as it is elsewhere.  Among recent registered voters, the Democrats have become a third party.

This post on the House race and my last are nerd’s candy.  I don’t know what is going to happen on Tuesday, and neither do you.  I am not a gambling man but, if I were, I’d bet on a Noem victory.  Three days from now we will know whether I would have collected.

Spotlight@Northern presents Noem, Marking, & Herseth Sandlin

Posted: Friday, October 22, 2010 at 10:29 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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Professor Schaff and I completed our interviews with the candidates for the at large House of Representatives seat this afternoon.  Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin sat down with us and answered our questions for about a half hour.

I don’t know for certain when the Spotlight House Show will be available.  When it is, you can view it on local channel 12 at 9:30am, 1:30pm, and 8:30pm.  Sometime on Monday the show should be posted on the web.  You should find the link here:  The whole thing will be about two hours long.

A few comments are in order.  I am very impressed with the caliber of candidates that South Dakota has produced.  I found myself liking all three, and I wish that the average voter could get more exposure to them.  If you watch all three interviews, you will get a good idea of the strengths of each candidate, and the political cultures that each represents.

One thing I learned today is that Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin came within a chapter of completing a PhD in political science.  But don’t hold that against her.

Gallup Pre-Announces a Double-Digit Lead for Republicans

Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:02 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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One of the odd features of contemporary politics is the “pre-announcement”.  It is rare these days to hear a major political speech or an announcement by the Administration or Congress without having a pretty good idea in advance what he or she or they are going to say.  The Press is usually informed in advance.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  One is that the government relies on the press to communicate its message in packages, and offering those packages in advance makes them more newsworthy.  Another is that it gives the speaker/announcer a little time to pull out if there is an adverse reaction.

Today, for the first time, I noticed what looks like a pre-announcement of a poll.  Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics offers us a preview of the up-coming Gallup poll.  Lately, Gallup has been offering the Democrats hope.  The most recent Gallup polls on the generic question have shown a tie, with Democrats and Republicans at 46% each.  The poll takes a large sample (3000 voters), but it doesn’t attempt to distinguish likely voters.  As the president of Gallup says in his characteristically cautious video clip, Republicans usually do a lot better than registered voter samples indicate.

By this time in the election year, Gallup has usually switched to a likely voter model.  For some reason, they have been tardy.  Next week they will switch, and Trende gives us a preview.

Preliminary modeling of the likely electorate using Gallup’s traditional likely voter questions (more on this next week) suggests that if current patterns persist, Republicans could have a double-digit lead in the national House vote on Election Day, which would translate into Republicans gaining well above the number of seats necessary to control the House.

The above paragraph is in a quote box in Trende’s piece.  Presumably it comes from some Gallup report, though there is no link or citation.  I haven’t searched the Gallup site thoroughly, so it may be there somewhere.  Or, it maybe something that Trende got from Gallup that the rest of us don’t get yet.  If so, then Trende either disclosed confidential information, or they gave him leave to report it.  In the latter case, this is a pre-announcement.

What motive Gallup may have for preannouncing its coming poll, I can only guess.  Maybe they want to spare us a shock.  Trende considers what it might mean if Gallup is really about to show a double-digit lead for Republicans.

In 1994 the GOP won the national vote by 7 points and held 230 seats on election night.  In 2006 the Democrats won the national vote by 8 points and finished with 233 seats.  And in 2008, the Democrats won the national vote by 10.5 points, and finished with 257 seats.  257 Republican seats would translate to a 78-seat pickup.

Trende is playing fast and loose with the numbers.  How many seats a national vote advantage produces will depend on the situation in each of 435 districts.  It is nonetheless an interesting bit of speculation.  A 78 seat gain would, I think, exceed any electoral event in the last century.

Meanwhile, poll analyst Stuart Rothenberg is warning the Democrats that their control of the Senate is really in jeopardy.  I don’t know what is going to happen.  I do think it my duty as a blogger to prepare my readers for a possible shock.

Thune is a Go pt. 2

Posted: Monday, September 27, 2010 at 9:14 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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thunemccain2Nobody is reading Steve Hayes’ piece on John Thune as anything other than an announcement.  Senator Thune is running for President.  Well, it’s only been a few days, but the Senator is already beginning to look a lot more interesting.

Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post’s The Fix informs us that Senator Thune is the Republican Barack Obama, except for being White and all.

Thune, obviously, would benefit if the party’s voters — and strategists — believed that the path to the presidency lay in nominating a candidate that mirrored Obama’s skill set: charismatic and handsome but with a fundamentally different approach to government’s role in peoples’ lives. (Thune allies note that he has a longer and deeper resume — three terms in the House, a full Senate term — than Obama did when he ran for president in 2008.)

Thune’s political style also resembles that of Obama — able to ride above the daily who’s up, who’s down to navigate a political course that has risen almost without hiccup since the 1990s.

This isn’t completely silly.  Yes, Thune is charismatic.  As for handsome, I confess I always thought the Senator looked a bit gaunt.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

As for the skill set and “style” thing, the stuff in parenthesis looks more important than the stuff outside and almost as important as the stuff that gets left out.  Barack Obama began running for President almost as soon as he left the Illinois state legislature.  Thune has not only served three terms in the House and one in the Senate, he also defeated the Senate Democratic Leader to get his Senate seat and has risen up the ranks of leadership in the upper house.  Compared to Thune, Obama had no resume.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Of course, Obama’s lack of any significant history, legislative or otherwise, was one of his main advantages.  The other was his race, which for historical reasons gave him a national wedge to use against Senator Clinton.  She of course had her own wedges: the Clinton co-presidency and her status as the first woman in serious contention for the White House.

I admire John Thune, and I like him.  I have had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions and he has the remarkable ability not only to remember who I am but to remember what we talked about when last we met.  I find that astonishing.  I note happily that if you were stuck in an elevator with John, Tim Johnson, and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, you would be among pleasant company.

Senator Thune is demonstrably a nationally ranked talent.  That said, I have yet to guess what his wedge is.  Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have the most obvious one among Republicans: they are recent contenders.  Thune can present himself as an untarnished and fresh alternative.  In that case, he competes with Governor Tim Pawlenty.  If Sarah Palin turns out to be a serious contender (color me doubtful), he can offer himself as a genuine conservative with a chance at actually being elected.

Thune’s most likely route to serious contention would be as a running mate to some other candidate with a significant wedge, but perhaps some baggage.  The model would be Al Gore in 1992.  If Thune does make it onto a national ticket, in either position, he stands a serious chance of being President.

As I said in my last post on this subject, I picked a good state to teach political science in.  In California, I would have stood a better chance of lunch with Jay Leno than a few words with Barbara Boxer or Governor Schwarzenegger.  In South Dakota I got to chat with Tom Daschle on the eve of the 1994 election.  What a hoot!  God bless South Dakota.

Democrats Cooked

Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 11:43 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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thor2-81I had hoped to bring on my Election Shaman by now, but for the last four days he has been curled up in a fetal position in my spare bedroom, rocking slowly back and forth, while muttering numbers like “80” and words like “Ragnarok”.

So I will make do with Charlie Cook in the National Journal.

For a long time it was primarily the “macro-political,” national polling data that was pointing to increasing signs of major Democratic midterm losses, while Democratic fortunes in individual races looked fine. But there began a gradual erosion in strength on a district-by-district basis, with incumbent Democrats in swing or Republican-leaning districts looking increasingly endangered while their colleagues in some more reliably Democratic seats began to look softer in their support and more vulnerable to a significant challenge.

In recent months, the national data reflecting a reversal of the 2006 and 2008 trends — namely, independent voters swinging strongly toward Republicans and a strong partisan enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans — began arguing that Republicans were in line to win a majority in the House with significant gains in the Senate.

In recent weeks, though, the district-by-district deterioration has reached the tipping point. It can now be said that Republicans will likely take back the House. An individual race analysis points to GOP gains of over 40 seats in the House, but the national polling suggests gains substantially higher than that.

While the individual race-by-race approach to analyzing House seats works great in “normal” election years, it invariably underestimates what happens in wave years, and the evidence is indisputable that this is a wave year.

Well, at least here was a clue to my Shaman’s delirium.  Charlie Cook has warned for months that Democrats were in big trouble, but he has been cautious about House and Senate numbers.  He is still cautious, but he is about to announce that eighty House Democrat seats are in play.

Eighty seats.  Cook quickly notes that no party has ever won every vulnerable seat.  Okay.  But if Republicans win half of those, Orange John Boehner replaces Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.  Given all the signs of a wave election, one has to expect that the GOP will win well over half.  If they get to sixty, this is bigger than 1994.

Then there is the Senate.

While Democrats’ majority status in the Senate is not as endangered as in the House, it does look like Republicans will likely score a net gain of at least eight seats, and a 10-seat swing that would give Republicans control of the upper chamber is not implausible. Cook Political Report Senate Editor Jennifer Duffy  points out that in 1998, six of the seven Senate races rated Toss Up in the final ratings were won by Democrats. In 2000, seven out of nine went Democratic; in 2002, six out of nine went Republican; in 2004, the GOP won eight out of nine; in 2006, Democrats won eight out of nine; and in 2008, Democrats won seven out of nine. There is a strong tendency in Senate races for most of the closest races to break in one direction. In this year, Democrats have gotten few breaks.

If all the close Senate races break in one direction…this is going to be one Hell of a year.

Is Noem Really Ahead? Yes.

Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 11:03 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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rasmussenBadlands Blue has produced another counter-spell to ward off the black magic of the Rasmussen poll.  Writing for BB, Badlands Blue Liberal wants desperately to dismiss the Rasmussen poll, for the obvious reason that he/she doesn’t like the result.

Having had direct experience in public opinion survey work drafting and interpreting professional polls for commercial, political, government and non-profit clients throughout the nation, I take great issue with Rasmussen. Rasmussen uses automated operators, not real people. That’s a major problem.

The statement (lacking either argument or evidence) is that “robopolls,” using automated voice-response systems, are unreliable.  Are they?

It’s a good question, since polling is so important a part of election coverage.  Two methods of polling are prominent.  The American Association for Public Opinion Research did a study of 2008 primary polls.

In the case of the pre-primary and caucus polls we analyzed, only two modes of data collection were used: 1) telephone interviews using a human interviewer in combination with a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system, and 2) telephone interviews using an interactive voice recognition (IVR) system in which digitally recorded questions were answered using a touch-tone phone.

That’s a good test, isn’t it?  A lot of polling was done in a lot of states, trying to predict who would win the various primaries.  All involved either a human interviewer with a computer making the calls (CATI), or a computer doing all the work (IVR).  Here’s what the AAPOR found, or more accurately didn’t find:

We found no evidence that one approach consistently out-performed the other – that is, the polls using CATI or IVR were about equally accurate [page 28].


The use of either computerized telephone interviewing (CATI) techniques or interactive voice response (IVR) techniques made no difference to the accuracy of estimates [page 75].

So in the 2008 primaries, robopolls were as accurate as polls using a human interviewer.  Until contrary evidence surfaces, there is no reason to discount Rasmussen’s robopolls.

Of course, the real test for Rasmussen is whether his polls have been accurate in past elections.  I addressed that question in a previous post and showed that Rasmussen has been very accurate this year.  I pointed out in a more recent post that Rasmussen himself defended his accuracy with regard to South Dakota, and did so successfully.  So far, Rasmussen is at the top in his record of accuracy.

Of course, BBL isn’t really into accuracy; he/she is in denial.  Consider this gem:

Stephanie’s name identification is, authentically, over 90 percent among most-likely voters in South Dakota. How does [Kristi Noem,] a little-known first time statewide candidate from a small town and a rural district compete with 90 percent name ID overnight?

Well, maybe she wins the GOP primary in a state that is about two thirds Republican, in a year when Republican enthusiasm is off the charts.  That primary win put her on all the newspapers, radio news, and television news across the state.  The fact that she actually defeated a much better known Republican, Secretary of State Chris Nelson, is proof enough that Kristi has something that beats name recognition.

Is it so hard to believe that a candidate can come from virtual obscurity in a short time and go on to defeat universally known candidates, first in a series of state primaries, and then in a national election?  Barack Obama did it.  I am not saying that Kristi Noem is a Barack Obama.  I am saying that it is obvious that an unknown candidate can break into the big time relatively quickly in American elections.  Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe not.  It is obviously true.

I am not making any case for Kristi Noem as a candidate.  Maybe she is a good choice for South Dakota, and maybe not.  Whether political trends please me or not, I like to know what is really going on.  Noem really is poised to win South Dakota’s at large House seat.  The party that cannot field a candidate in the Senate election should not be too surprised.

Noem over Herseth-Sandlin by 9 Points

Posted: Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 10:51 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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With eighty-seven days to go until the midterm elections, Kristi Noem leads Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin by a healthy nine points, according to the most recent Rasmussen poll.

Now July June
Noem 51% 49% 53%
Herseth-Sandlin 42% 44% 41%

It has seemed for some time that HS is in a very vulnerable position.  She has never been over fifty percent in any poll this year.  Her numbers above seem pretty consistent with what she was showing before the primary.

Rasmussen has some very interesting stats on the support each candidate enjoys.

Both Noem and Herseth-Sandlin earn just over 75% support from voters in their respective parties. Noem holds a nearly two-to-one advantage among voters not affiliated with either major party.

Noem is viewed as politically conservative by 70% of South Dakota’s voters.

Thirty-six percent (36%) view Herseth-Sandlin as a liberal. But 30% say she’s moderate, while another 30% label her as conservative.

It is curious, is it not, that the two candidates apparently do not have the support of a quarter of their own parties.  I would speculate that HS is losing both the most liberal and the most conservative Democrats.  Noem is losing Republicans who have a personal attachment to HS and those who view Noem as an extremist.  That’s just guesswork.  Either way, three quarters of Republicans beats three quarters of Democrats in South Dakota.

What is really retarding Representative Herseth-Sandlin’s reelection bid is Noem’s two to one advantage among independents.  That, I think, is less a reflection on the character of either candidate, than evidence of a conservative shift among independents.  That is indicated by the 70% of likely voters who view Noem as a conservative.  It is reinforced by the recent voter behavior in Missouri, Michigan, and Tennessee, and by the very low approval rating for President Obama in the state (41% approval vs. 58% disapproval), numbers that mirror trends in many battleground states.

Rasmussen also finds the Republican leading in the Governor’s race, though this is, I think, more detached from national trends and more indicative of very stable voter behavior in the Rushmore State.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state finds Daugaard, the current lieutenant governor, leading Heidepriem by better than two-to-one, 59% to 27%.  Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and 10% are undecided.

Of course my friends at Madville Times and Badlands Blue, like my friend and occasional interlocutor A.I., are wont to dismiss Rasmussen as biased.  The pollster seems to be sensitive to this criticism, and includes some relevant data.

In South Dakota, Rasmussen Reports projected that McCain would defeat Obama by a 53% to 44% margin. McCain won 53% to 45%. In that same year, the final Rasmussen poll showed Senator Tim Johnson with a 54% to 38% lead over Joel Dykstra. Johnson won 62% to 38%.

We are now at the point where public opinion, in its only official form, begins to solidify.  Unless Scott Rasmussen’s poll is not only off but way off, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin is not going to win her bid for reelection.  Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe it’s a bad thing, but it’s a thang, as we say down south.  It reinforces and is reinforced by evidence of national trends.

If someone gave me a big pile of money to bet on the election, I’d bet that the next Speaker of the House will not be Nancy Pelosi.