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South Dakota Passes Qualified Minimum Wage Increase

This week South Dakota enacted legislation increasing the state hourly minimum wage—contingent upon an increase in the federal minimum wage law. South Dakota's current minimum wage is fixed at $5.15 per hour—identical to the federal law—and will not increase until July 1, 2007 or until a federal raise is...

Upper Midwestern States Contemplate Presidential Primary Dates

As Election 2008 heats up, states across the nation are strategically shuffling their primary and caucus schedules in attempt to become more relevant players in the presidential campaign. Upper Midwestern states are also contemplating changes to their schedules in view of the potential benefits moving up primary voting day would...

Female Legislators in MN At Record High; IA, WI, and SD Lag Behind National Average

Minnesota voters set a record in November 2006 by electing the highest percentage of female legislators to both the state House (43, 32.1 percent) and Senate (27, 40.3 percent) in Gopher State history. Overall, at 34.8 percent, Minnesota ranks 4th in the nation in terms of the highest percentage of...

South Dakota Abortion Policy Update

One week after the South Dakota House of Representatives easily passed a bill banning most abortions in the state, a similar abortion ban bill died in committee in the state Senate. The House recently passed a ban outlawing all abortions with certain exceptions for rape, incest, and health of...

Censuring the Media's Censure Coverage of SD Senator-Page Scandal

On Wednesday the South Dakota State Senate voted 32-2 to censure Democratic Senator Dan Sutton, in the wake of allegations that Sutton groped a male page in a hotel room in 2006. While the charges are disturbing in and of themselves, the media's coverage of the scandal—not surprisingly—tended to...

A Long Political Half-Life: Abortion Politics in South Dakota

South Dakota's House of Representatives appears likely to take up the issue of abortion once again in its new 2007 legislative session. The GOP-led state legislature already passed a ban in its last session, which was signed by Republican Governor Mike Rounds. The referred law was defeated 55.6 percent...

Upper Midwestern US Senators React to State of the Union Address

Several U.S. Senators from the Upper Midwest have released official statements in reaction to President George W. Bush's seventh State of the Union Address from last night. Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa stated he was impressed with Bush's overall leadership and his "very ambitious agenda" to make "America energy independent...

Upper Midwestern Republican Senators Weigh in on Bush Iraq Plan

Two more Upper Midwestern U.S. Senators—both Republicans—have released statements in response to President Bush's new plan outlined in a national address earlier this week. South Dakota junior senator John Thune acknowledged the need for change in Iraq, stated winning in Iraq is the "right thing to do for America's security,"...

Ford Ran Successful Upper Midwest Presidential Campaign in 1976

The passing of our 38th President Gerald Ford prompted Smart Politics to take a look at his 1976 presidential campaign in the Upper Midwest—and the close races he faced with Jimmy Carter that year. Richard Nixon—who had nearly swept the nation's electoral votes in 1972—made a clean sweep of the...

SD Senior Senator Recovering in Hospital

South Dakota Democratic Senator Tim Johnson was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Wednesday for an undetermined illness. Early reports speculated Johnson, who is 59, had suffered a stroke, but physicians have said Johnson did not experience either a stroke or a heart attack earlier in the day....

Gubernatorial Approval Ratings Rise Noticeably After Elections

Approval ratings for all four Upper Midwest governors rose noticeably in polls conducted by SurveyUSA directly after Election Day (November 8-11). All three incumbent governors on the ballot in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota were victorious, and the Democrats retained control of the Iowa executive branch with Chet Culver replacing...

Smart Politics Scorecard, Part II: State Legislative Roundup

The Democratic party scored big wins across Upper Midwest state legislatures on Tuesday night. As projected here at Smart Politics, the Democrats picked up seats in all 8 chambers and took control of three of them: the Iowa House, Wisconsin Senate, and Minnesota House. Some democratic pickups - particularly in...

Upper Midwest State Legislative Projections

The last in a series of election projections, Smart Politics predicts which political party will win control of state legislatures across the Upper Midwest. Democrats are in an advantaged position in most states in each legislative chamber to pick up seats, based on the GOP needing to protect a higher...

South Dakota Poll Roundup and Smart Politics Projections

Heading into the weekend, Smart Politics plays it close to the vest in deciding to present South Dakota in the second of its Upper Midwest election summaries for the key battles in the Upper Midwest. With incumbents expected by everyone to hold serve in that state, the real challenge...

Upper Midwest US House Races Tighten in GOP Held Districts...But Is a Revolution Afoot?

A recent spate of polls tracking US House races in the Upper Midwest reflect what is perceived by most political analysts to be a nation-wide trend: GOP-held districts that were secure in 2004 now seem to be competitive or near competitive. The GOP leads the current Upper Midwest US House...

Who's Looking On the Sunny Side of Life?

The Midwest…the heartland of America…where caustic coastal cynicism has not yet taken root and a hearty optimism about life in these United States still prevails. Syrupy, true, but that description about life in the Upper Midwest sounds like it might once have been plausible. But, of course, this description simply...

Abortion Policy: An Upper Midwestern Snapshot

In South Dakota a landmark petitioned referendum will be on the ballot this November, asking voters whether or not to uphold the recently signed State House Bill's abortion ban. Mid-summer polling on the referendum—which does not provide exceptions for rape and incest—suggests the referendum may not pass, with those inclined...

Bush Drag Not Affecting All Republicans

One of the greatest fears facing republican strategists in the 2006 election is that the decline in George W. Bush's approval ratings during the past few years is going to drag fellow republican incumbents down with him. While not all of Bush's rankings are in the red (his approval...

US House Redistricting: Iowa Gets Lowest Marks for Proportionality

In the coming year or so states will begin to outline plans for the redistricting process that will go into effect in 2012 after the 2010 Census results. One way to measure the 'success' of these processes is to examine to what extent the proportion of votes cast for...

Blue Dog Democrats Well Represented in Upper Midwest

The Blue Dog Democrats, though a dying breed, have a fair-sized delegation from the Upper Midwest. The Blue Dog coalition (originally formed in 1995) is a group of 37 conservative and moderate democrats who are seen as serious players in the policy arena due to frequently being swing votes. While...

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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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