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Election Profile: South Dakota U.S. Senate

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The second profile in the series is South Dakota's U.S. Senate race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Tim Johnson (2-term incumbent)
Republican: Joel Dykstra

History:
Tim Johnson looks to win his third term as Senator from South Dakota. Johnson ousted 3-term Republican Senator Larry Pressler in 1996 with a 2.6-point victory. Johnson won re-election in 2002 by 532 votes over soon to be Senator John Thune, thanks in part to the Libertarian candidacy of Kurt Evans (who netted more than 3,000 votes).

Johnson serves on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affair Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Indian Affairs Committee.

Dykstra, a state legislator since 2002, is currently the Assistant House Majority Leader in South Dakota.

Democrats have won 5 of the past 7 U.S. Senate races in South Dakota since 1986, and 9 out of the last 15 races since 1962. Overall, however, Democrats have only won 12 of 32 U.S. Senate races since popular vote elections began in 1914.

Outlook:
South Dakota was at one point on the GOP's very short list of possible pick-ups in 2008. Senator Johnson experienced an arteriovenous malformation in December 2006, but decided to continue his political career with an official announcement back in October 2007. Senator Johnson is one of the nation’s most popular Senators, with Mount Rushmore State residents consistently giving him favorability ratings in the high 60s. His seat is safe.

Previous post: Election Profile: South Dakota U.S. House (At-large) (2008)
Next post: Election Profile: Iowa's 1st Congressional District (2008)

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Remains of the Data

Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

Political Crumbs

Haugh to Reach New Heights

The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.


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).


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