So much for my thesis that dissatisfied Republicans could have given Matt Varilek an advantage in his challenge to Rep. Kristi Noem. If any Republicans are disappointed with No-Show Noem, they were outnumbered by GOP voters eager to affirm their worldviews with votes for Noem and Romney. Some telling numbers:

  1. 41,911 more people voted in this year's South Dakota Congressional race than voted in the 2010 Congressional race (13.1% increase).
  2. Rep. Kristi Noem won 53,891 more votes this year than she did in 2010 (35.1% gain).
  3. Matt Varilek won 7,154 more votes this year than Stephanie Herseth Sandlin did in 2010 (4.9% gain).
  4. Every county gave Kristi Noem more votes than it did in 2010.
  5. 41 counties gave Matt Varilek fewer votes than they gave SHS in 2010. In those counties, Varilek lost 3,947 SHS voters.
  6. The 25 counties that gave Varilek more voters than they gave SHS in 2010 included Minnehaha, where Varilek picked up 4,390 more voters than SHS in 2010, and Pennington, where his gain was 1,919.
  7. Voter turnout statewide was 69.65%
  8. Counties with higher GOP registration tended to have higher turnout (correlation for those of you scoring at home: 0.6538).
  9. Counties with higher Dem registration tended to have lower turnout (correlation: –0.6332).
My conclusion from those numbers: Contrary to all the good reasons Kristi Noem gave for Republicans to fire her this year, more Republicans across the state were excited to come out and give her another dip in the D.C. pool. Noem lit a fire under her base that Varilek did not.