Nielson Brothers Polling finds Governor Dennis Daugaard gets high marks from a majority of South Dakotas:

NBP finds that 23% of South Dakota voters strongly approve and another 37% somewhat approve of Governor Daugaard's job performance. Among the 40% that disapprove, 17% somewhat disapprove and 23% strongly disapprove.

Republicans are more likely to approve of the governor's performance than either Democrats or Independents. 67% of Republicans approve (33% strongly/34% somewhat) compared to 54% of Democrats (11% strongly/43% somewhat) and 53% of Independents (24% strongly/29% somewhat) [Nielson Brothers Polling press release, 2011.09.11].

These approval numbers don't appear to square with South Dakotans' impression of how things are going:

Despite relatively high approval ratings for Governor Daugaard, South Dakotans show less certainty about the state's direction. Only 27 % of respondents say South Dakota is headed in the right direction, while 31% think it is going in the wrong direction, and another 42% are undecided [NBP, 2011.09.11].

60% of South Dakotans say the governor is doing a good-enough job, but 73% can't bring themselves to say South Dakota is headed in the right direction. How can we square those numbers?

  1. Perhaps South Dakotans don't think the governor has much to do with the direction the state is taking.
  2. Perhaps South Dakotans find it easier to blame President Obama than Governor Daugaard for their problems.
  3. Perhaps we're just too polite to say bad things about one man's job performance.
  4. Perhaps a majority of South Dakotans just aren't making the connection between declining public services and infrastructure and the austerity budget from Pierre.
  5. Perhaps South Dakotans are generous souls who are giving Governor Daugaard a full year honeymoon. We'll be able to test that possibility after we see the governor's 2012 legislative agenda.