Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


SD's Tim Johnson Coasting in Early U.S. Senate Poll

Bookmark and Share

In recent years, when Republicans have looked for a competitive race in which to pick up a U.S. Senate seat, their eyes frequently turned to South Dakota. South Dakota is a reliable state for the GOP in its state legislature as well as vote for president: in the 29 presidential elections held in South Dakota since statehood, Republicans have won 25, compared to just 3 for the Democrats (William Jennings Bryan also carried the state on the Populist ticket in 1896, by 185 votes over Republican William McKinley). In fact, Democrats have won only 1 of the last 18 presidential contests since 1940 (Lyndon B. Johnson carried South Dakota in his 1964 landslide presidential victory).

But races for the U.S. Senate in South Dakota tell a different tale: Democrats have won 5 of the past 7 races since 1986, and 9 out of the last 15 races since 1962. Overall Democrats have won 12 of 32 U.S. Senate races since popular vote elections began in 1914. The reason for this greater success in Senatorial elections is obvious: home-grown Democratic Senate candidates have generally better reflected the conservative core values and policy positions of the state's electorate than have national Democratic presidential candidates.

These U.S. Senate races have been very competitive, with the last election in 2004 a nail-biter that saw the defeat of Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle at the hands of John Thune by about 4,500 votes (1.2 percentage points). Since 1986, 5 out of 7 Senatorial races in South Dakota have been decided by 7 points or less, with Democrats winning 3 of these very competitive contests.

Given the competitive nature of South Dakota Senate races, two-term Democratic incumbent Senator Tim Johnson was on the GOP's very, very short list of possible pick-ups in 2008. Johnson's health problems stemming from an arteriovenous malformation in December 2006 have not deterred his political career, and the state's popular senior Senator announced last October that he would seek a third term.

Rasmussen has just released the first public poll of potential GOP matchups with Senator Johnson, and it appears the GOP list of possible pick-ups just got even shorter. Highlights from the Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters:

  • Against ex-Lieutenant Governor Steve Kirby, Johnson holds a 62 to 32 percent edge.
  • Against State Representative Joel Dykstra, Johnson's margin is measured at 63 to 28 percent.

The Rasmussen poll also confirms what is widely known and felt across the Mount Rushmore State—Senator Johnson is widely popular, boasting a 73 percent favorability rating.

Previous post: Is Pennsylvania the Next Iowa? Not Quite.
Next post: Obama Wins Wyoming Caucuses

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