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SD 2008 Election Forecast: Will Momentum Towards the Democrats Continue?

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South Dakota, one of the most reliably Republican states in the Midwest, will be an interesting state to watch in 2008. First, the state will have a high-profile Senate race, whether or not the state's senior Senator, Democrat Tim Johnson, decides to run for a third term. Johnson is recovering from a brain hemorrhage last December, though his former colleague Tom Daschle stated earlier this summer that Johnson will seek re-election.

Last election, however, South Dakota voters seemed to move a bit closer to the Democratic side of the political spectrum—as did most states across the U.S. in Election 2006. The state's at-large Representative to Congress, rising Democratic star Stephanie Herseth, won the third largest victory for a Democrat in a South Dakota U.S. House race in five decades (winning by 40 points).

But the biggest news for the Democrats came in the state Senate. From 2000 to 2004, Democrats lost by 24-11, 25-10, and 25-10 seat margins. In 2006, they gained five seats, losing 20-15.

Even more telling, the average margin of victory in state Senate races became, comparatively, much more competitive. The average margin of victory in such races in 2000 was 51 points, followed by 62 points in 2002, and 49 points in 2004. In 2006 this was cut in half, with a 25-point average margin of victory—including 14 races decided by 10 points or less. From 2000 to 2004 only 10 of the 105 Senate races were decided by this margin. While Democrats failed to field candidates in 6 Senate races last year, 45 percent of votes for state senator still went to the Democrats, compared to just 34 percent over the previous three election cycles.

But the news is not all good for Democrats—Governor Mike Rounds won re-election by nearly twice the margin as his inaugural victory in 2002.

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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