Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


SD Governor: History Is On Rounds' Side...Unless...

Bookmark and Share

South Dakota boasts a fascinating political history, peppered at the edges with contradictions in partisan preferences among its electorate. On the one hand, democrats have more than held their own in federal congressional statewide elections, winning 9 of the last 16 US Senate races since 1960, and 9 of the 13 statewide elections held for US House since 1982 (when the state's delegation was reduced to a single at-large seat).

On the other hand, South Dakota overwhelmingly votes republican for statewide executive races. The state is a slam-dunk for the GOP in presidential elections, voting Republican in 11 of 12 elections since 1960. Republicans have also won each of the last seven gubernatorial elections dating back to 1978. In fact, only four Democrats have ever been elected to the Governor's office in the state since elections began in 1889.

With this history in mind, it is no surprise that Governor Mike Rounds is considered to have one of the few safe seats for republican incumbents in 2006. Rounds faces Democrat Jack Billion, along with candidates from the Constitution and Libertarian parties. Indeed, for most of the past year Rounds ranked as one of the most popular state executives across the nation—achieving at least a 70% approval ranking in 10 straight SurveyUSA polls from May 2005 to February 2006.

But Billion has a slight opening. After signing the state's controversial abortion ban in early 2006 (a ban that outlaws the procedure even in cases of rape and incest), Rounds' approval rating took a noticeable hit—dropping 14 points in one month (SurveyUSA, March 2006). Rounds' approval rating rose a few points in April, but it has remained in the low 60s ever since.

The lesson from this 10-point dive is that Rounds' position on abortion is even tougher than that held by the citizens of his fairly conservative state. The state's referred law on abortion will be on the ballot this November, and polls show those opposing the ban will likely prevail (although if the rape/incest provisions were removed, the law would probably pass) (KELO-TV/Argus Leader).

Whether or not Rounds' act was one of political courage perhaps depends not only on one's stance on abortion, but also on whether or not one believe Rounds would have signed the law if his approval rating were in the 50s instead of the 70s. Jack Billion has carved out his clear opposition to Rounds on the abortion issue, but he will likely need to drive at least one more wedge into the fight to make it a 10 round bout.

Previous post: Dropping Gasoline: Dropping Support for Democrats?
Next post: WI Primary Roundup: Incumbents Sail, with One Notable Exception

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting