Along with a pair of nifty ads, U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland also released a poll which celebrates the fact that he's five points behind Undecided and ten points behind Mike Rounds.

Go ahead, Republican readers, laugh it up. I'll wait....

Clarity Campaign Labs says it conducted this poll "on behalf of the South Dakota Democratic Party." The Democratic pollsters called 3,837 voters from July 16 to July 23. The margin of error is ±1.44%. The numbers:

  • Mike Rounds: 34%
  • Rick Weiland: 24%
  • Larry Pressler: 10%
  • Gordon Howie: 3%
  • Undecided: 29%

These numbers don't invite cigars. To win, Weiland would have to get the undecideds to (a) break better than two to one for him over Rounds and (b) not fall for Pressler or Howie. Alternatively, he's going to have to peel a few casual Rounds voters away, then hope that Rounds's propaganda about Pressler voters leaning Democrat is right and that a big chunk of them come to their senses before November.

Just who are those Pressler voters? Clarity Campaign Labs says 46% of the Pressler pickers in its pool said they are Independents. The rest split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, each comprising 27% of Pressler voters. Stir all those percentages together, and you find that in this sample, Pressler is winning about 6% of Republicans, 7% of Democrats, and 35% of Independents.

Looking Pressler's predominantly Indy appeal, here's one small optimism bone we can throw Larry's way. Clarity Campaign Labs says its full sample was 49% Republican, 38% Democrat, and 13% Independent. Compare that to statewide voter registration numbers as of July 1, and you find both parties slightly overrepresented and Indies somewhat more underrepresented. Squeeze Clarity's figures into actual party proportions, and the party leaders drop a point or two while Pressler climbs as much as five points.

Pressler continues to campaign as if his most fertile field is Weiland's voters. On Monday, Pressler sent out a press release pledging to support Senator Tom Udall's (D-NM) proposed Constitutional amendment to reverse Buckley and Citizens United and limit political campaign contributions. Pressler also praised Harvard prof Lawrence Lessig's proposal to give voters $200 vouchers for campaign contributions. Pressler appears to be angling for some sugar from Lessig's new Mayday PAC, which this blog has said would be a perfect fit for Rick Weiland's anti-big-money campaign. Pressler may mean every word he says, but cynics in the audience have leeway to read Pressler banking on Weiland voters being easier pickings than Rounds voters.

Even Weiland's numbers show Rounds still ahead and a hard hill to climb for Democratic victory. But this poll shows Rounds far from a runaway and Pressler far from the overwhelming threat to Dem hopes that Rounds wants us to believe.

p.s. (20:49 CDT): Compare these poll numbers with the results of the Madville Times Senate poll we did last week. Among the presumably Dem-leaning readers of this blog, Pressler pulled 11% compared to Weiland's 66%. That's a slightly larger draw than Pressler's 7% among Democrats in the Clarity poll. One explanation for that difference is that readers (or at least poll-takers!) on this blog are not as uniformly lefty as some might think.