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

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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 to 44.4 percent in last November's election, however, largely because the law did not permit exceptions for rape and incest. Still, a majority backed the ban in 23 of the state's 66 counties, and came within 37,000 votes of passing out of nearly 335,000 votes cast.

Polls conducted in 2006 indicate this newly proposed ban would reflect the state's dominant viewpoint on abortion—a July 2006 poll found 59 percent of voters would vote 'Yes' on the bill if it allowed for an exception for cases of rape and incest (KELO-TV / Argus Leader). Only 29 percent were still in opposition.

This overwhelming support for a strict—but not absolute—abortion ban is interesting considering polls find South Dakotans more narrowly self-identifying as 'pro-choice' than 'pro-life.' A study of 18 SurveyUSA polls conducted between June 2005 and November 2006 found 'pro-choice' in the majority or plurality in 11 polls, 'pro-life' in the majority or plurality in five polls, and the two viewpoints evenly represented in two additional polls.

It is conceivable those individuals who are only tilting towards the pro-life end of the spectrum, may defect or become agnostic on the issue this time around—as South Dakota received a lot of national attention for its controversial referred law in 2006.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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