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.


The latest Madville Times poll calls into question the thesis advanced by Team Rounds last week that Larry Pressler is taking more votes away from Democrat Rick Weiland than from Republican Mike Rounds. I asked Wednesday, "Who gets your vote for U.S. Senate?" You, dear readers, like Rick Weiland a lot:

  • Rick Weiland: 66% (116 votes)
  • Mike Rounds: 12% (21)
  • Larry Pressler: 11% (20)
  • Gordon Howie: 11% (20)

Now the margin of error in any Madville Times poll is the size of the broad side of Mike Rounds's private airplane hangar. But this poll tests the wishful GOP hypothesis that, among a bunch of Democrats, you'll find a big chunk of Pressler voters. The memo Team Rounds handed to Roll Call for propaganda purposes puts the ratio at 5 Pressler Democrats for every 8 Weiland voters. If you accept the notion that this blog mostly draws Democrats as readers (and that's open for debate), then the results above find the Pressler–Weiland ratio among Dems more like 1 to 6. If readers of this blog represent Democratic sentiment statewide, Democrats won't propel Pressler back to office the way they did forty years ago when they deserted Democratic Rep. Frank Denholm.

If anything, the poll results suggest Team Weiland should be more worried about really confused Dems voting for the smiley but gubernatorially feckless Rounds, who edges Pressler by one vote here. Holy cow! Someone needs to shout EB-5! a little harder.


Never mind that RNC robocall; Team Rounds thinks they have the Senate race in the bag. Why else would they leak numbers to Roll Call showing that Pressler is sapping Weiland's Democratic support?

According to a Rounds campaign memo obtained by Roll Call, a mid-June internal poll of 500 likely voters found Pressler’s supporters were more than twice as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, 48 percent to 22 percent. Also in the survey, a hypothetical head-to-head race showed Rounds with 49 percent, Weiland with 24 percent and Pressler with 15 percent [Colin Diersing, "Quirky Ex-Senator Dashes Democrats' Hopes in South Dakota," Roll Call: At the Races, 2014.07.24].

Those campaign memos don't just leap off desks all by themselves.

Dick Wadhams, newly ensconced at SDGOP HQ instead of Rounds HQ, underscores the GOP's hopeful narrative:

Pressler “is a respected former senator … who’s trying to run on issues the Democratic candidate is running on,” said Dick Wadhams, a senior adviser to South Dakota Republicans, in an interview with CQ Roll Call [Diersing, 2014.07.24].

For maximum ridiculing effect, Wadhams should have gotten Diersing to write that Weiland is dashing Pressler's hopes.

Diersing lists Pressler's endorsements of Barack Obama and his positions on the Affordable Care Act, gay marriage, estate taxes, and immigration as part of Pressler's Democratic appeal. Add his play for Indian votes, and you have a reasonable case for Pressler appealing more to voters who would otherwise pick Democrat Weiland over conservative Rounds and worse conservative Gordon Howie. But just last March, another Roll Call writer (also calling Pressler "quirky") said Pressler could wield just as much wonder for conservative voters.

So let's dip that stick in the blogospheric oilpan to see if we can find some data to align with what Mike Rounds wants us to believe. I know you readers aren't all Democrats, but I know we have a larger than normal concentration of progressive/liberal/socialist thinkers here. Who's your pick for South Dakota's Senate seat this year? Is Weiland singing your love song? Is Pressler setting your quirky heartstrings a-quiver? Do you prefer Rounds's reedy paeans to big business and French women? Or is God calling you to hasten the apocalypse and send Gordon Howie to Washington? Vote now in the poll in the near-right sidebar, and let's see how Pressler's doing!


The latest Madville Times poll finds more trouble for Chad Haber's unlikely campaign for attorney general. I asked you all Monday, "If no one else runs, whom should the SD Libertarian Party nominate for attorney general?" More than three times as many readers urge the Libertarians to leave the spot blank than to fill it with Haber. Seven times as many say the anti-government Libertarians would do better to nominate a liberal blogger than to pick the chronically unemployed and degree-less husband of debt-ridden, faux-conservative, failed Senate candidate Annette Bosworth.

The final tally:

Question: If no one else runs, whom should the SD Libertarian Party nominate for attorney general?

  • Cory Heidelberger: 61% (71 votes)
  • no one: 30% (35 votes)
  • Chad Haber: 9% (10 votes)

[voting conducted Monday, July 21, 11:54 CDT to Wednesday, July 23, 06:56 CDT]

I will happily defer to no one... or an actual lawyer... or a registered Libertarian with an honest desire to serve the public rather than conduct a delusional vendetta to prevent his wife from facing justice for her crimes.

But Libertarians, if you need me, let me know ahead of time so I can change my voting registration before your August 9 convention.


The South Dakota Libertarian Party doesn't have to nominate a con-artist or a socialist French teacher for attorney general. The SDLP can choose to nominate no one. That's the question I turn over to you, dear readers: given a choice between Chad Haber and Cory Allen Heidelberger, whom should the SDLP nominate? Or in that situation, should the SDLP nominate no one, and let AG Marty Jackley ascend to a second term unopposed?

*   *   *
Chad Haber has finally poked his head out from under his shell and handed the press his jobless, degree-less résumé to support his effort to distract from his wife's impending conviction. The putative (the Spanish would use a shorter word) candidate for the Libertarian nomination for attorney general asserts that he will help the Libertarian Party by being a viable candidate:

"This'll be a real candidacy. We know how to raise money," Haber said [David Montgomery, "S.D. Politics: Libertarians Looking to Fill Gap," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.07.21].

The thunder you hear is unpaid employees, raffle ticket holders, and the folks who loaned Haber and his wife an RV to winter in all laughing.

Haber also feigns largesse by saying he'll defer to a candidate who satisfies his criteria for "more qualified":

But he said he was hoping to find another lawyer to run against Jackley, and is still willing to "step aside" if "someone more qualified steps up."

Haber said his standards for "more qualified" primarily are based on a candidate being willing to "stand up" to Jackley [Montgomery, 2014.07.21].

O.K., Chad. I'm your man.

I've been calling out Marty Jackley for dereliction of duty and the state of South Dakota in general for corporate cronyism and oppression since before Chad and Annette fled his failing mortgage scam in Utah (which, by the way, Pat Powers finally gets around to throwing in Haber's face now that Chad is attacking Pat's pal Marty... more than a full year after I brought you that story and Raymond Paul Morris's accusation that Haber ran the mortgage-Ponzi scheme that sent half a dozen people to federal prison).

So Chad, you can already drop your candidacy, because a better candidate has come along: Cory Allen Heidelberger, honest and dedicated stander-upper to Marty Jackley.

Not that the South Dakota Libertarian Party needs convincing, since every Libertarian who has spoken publicly about the Haber candidacy has rejected it, but I made this case Friday to Bob Newland and other Libertarians that I'm a better candidate for their party. Look at all the qualities I can bring to the ticket that Chad Haber cannot:

  1. Lots of Democratic voters.
  2. The highest vote total ever received by a Libertarian nominee in South Dakota.
  3. Proven rhetorical skills (read Chad's writing, especially when he tries to get technical: you need to communicate more coherently than that to campaign, not to mention produce legal opinions and speak for the state of South Dakota).
  4. No one in my immediate family distracting with felony charges.
  5. Firm grasp of South Dakota legal and political issues, including EB-5.
  6. Proven record of reporting corruption in South Dakota, including the Taliaferro/Schwab case, which I covered two years before Chad Haber ever mentioned it.
  7. An honest dedication to truth, justice, and South Dakota, not self-promotion.

Plus, I've established that I can accept at least 52% of the Libertarian platform. Haber has offered no such detailed analysis of his political views.

Libertarians should not be fooled by Chad's only other claim to qualification for candidacy, his and his wife's purported ability to raise money. Sure, on paper, they raised more money for the GOP Senate primary than everyone else except Mike Rounds (and they outdid him in April and May). But every penny documented so far covered paid Base Connect and its associates to get those donations. That money didn't promote a political agenda. It enriched clever direct mail companies and bought Annette some Starbucks. That money also came mostly from out-of-state hot-button donors who won't give a rat's toejam about an in-state AG's race.

Translation: Chad won't bring you Libertarians any money. I can promote the Libertarian agenda better with a couple speeches and a few good blog posts.

But here's the big question for the South Dakota Libertarian Party: do you want either of us?

Suppose those lawyers Emmett Reistroffer is jawboning all back out. Suppose the Libertarian Party is stuck with just two candidates for attorney general: Haber and me. We both can get press for the party, but we neither one are lawyers, meaning we neither one can carry out the primary statutory duty of the attorney general: representing South Dakota in court. The question may not be who's the better candidate; it may be which one is less of a joke?


Oh, you crazy readers! The latest Madville Times polls asked you to vote for your favorites in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the Republican Senate primary, and the Republican gubernatorial primary. I asked the questions in that order, and I present the answers in that order... which I also believe reflects the ascending order of unlikelihood:

Democrats for Governor:

  1. Joe Lowe: 73% (165 votes)
  2. Susan Wismer: 27% (62)

Republicans for Senate:

  1. Larry Rhoden: 46% (179)
  2. Stace Nelson: 35% (135)
  3. Mike Rounds: 8% (30)
  4. Jason Ravnsborg: 7% (29)
  5. Annette Bosworth: 4% (14)

Republicans for Governor:

  1. Lora Hubbel: 63% (210)
  2. Dennis Daugaard: 37% (125)

Lowe, Rhoden, and Hubbel—we do love the underdogs here (which shows I'm reaching my intended audience). How do we explain these results (other than saying, "It's a blog! Har de har har!)?

Lowe is the least under of the dogs. Against Susan Wismer's inherent advantage as an experienced party establishment candidate, he has mounted a vigorous and credible statewide campaign with smart advisors and straight talk. He wins an advantage here perhaps in part because we haven't heard much in response from Wismer, who only started campaigning in earnest after tax season ended.

----------Update 08:50 MDT: Lowe's Black Hills neighbor John Tsitrian contends that Lowe should beat Wismer on specifity over reticence.--------------

Rhoden again showed he has a lot of followers online willing to turn out and click his name when offered the opportunity, even on a liberal website. Recall that in December, Rhoden finished second behind Nelson among readers here. Rhoden actually pulled the same number of votes this time, but fewer folks showed up to click for Nelson. Remember that Rhoden and this blog share connections to Madison, so that Madison audience could be turning out big for the West River rancher (watch for Lake County to be an island of western turquoise for Rhoden amidst a electoral checkerboard of Nelson red and Rounds blue on June 3).

Rounds is clueless about the Internet, so we wouldn't expect them to show up in representative numbers here. Rounds is still the favorite. Nelson has made the hardest pitch for the anti-Rounds vote, assembling what appears to be the largest grassroots campaign and the strongest visibility of anyone not named Mike. But South Dakotans have a timid streak, and Nelson makes enough people mad that, if they are looking for a Rounds alternative, they might default to the safe, clean, and manly Rhoden.

And then there's Lora Hubbel. Readers may have turned out strong for Hubbel in part because she has been willing to share her views on a variety of issues with this blog, despite the fact that I've swung the Tea-Party-crazy club at her. She's shown that even amidst our disagreement, we can find common ground on important issues... and I get the impression that's as important to you, dear readers, as it is to me.

I doubt, alas, that that goodwill has gotten out much beyond these pages and various Tea Party meetings. Hubbel doesn't have as large of a ground game as Dennis Daugaard. Hubbel will win a protest vote from Republicans who get a bad taste in their mouths from the Rounds-Daugaard administration's GOED/EB-5 errors. She'll get votes from two thirds of the folks who vote for Nelson. But a strong majority will still nominate Daugaard.

Thank you, dear readers, for casting your votes! As always, I invite your interpretation of the results. Now don't forget to vote in the real primary June 3!


Vote now in the latest Madville Times polls... and this time, it's a triple play! With two weeks until the South Dakota primary, I ask you who gets your vote in the Democratic primary for Governor and the Republican primaries for Governor and U.S. Senate! Your choices:

Democrat for Governor:

Republican for Senate:

Republican for Governor:

Now let's take a shot at making this poll as honest as possible. Stick with the polls you can actually vote in. Dems and Indies, you can cast ballots in ballots in the Democratic primary between Wismer and Lowe. Republicans (yes, you know you're reading, and I'm glad you are!), click on your Republican choices for Senate and Governor. And while you're not obliged, you're certainly welcome to explain your vote in the comment section below.

These polls are open until breakfast time Thursday, at which time we'll all play swami and speculate as to the bellwetherliness of Madville Times readers. Vote now, bring your friends, and spread the word!


The Republican candidates for South Dakota's U.S. Senate seat debated on South Dakota Public TV last night. Click on SDPB 's archived video, and you can watch Stace Nelson, Mike Rounds, Larry Rhoden, and Jason Ravnsborg all spending 90 minutes saying that government is bad! We need less government!... except when we want more government for military spending, veterans' health care, crop insurance, livestock disaster relief....

With their slogan-policy schizophrenia, perhaps our GOP candidates are simply struggling to realign themselves with the worldview of younger voters. A new survey (yes, by a Democratic polling firm; add the grains of salt you deem necessary) of 2,000 Americans age 18 to 33 finds 72% of these "Millennials" support greater government involvement.

Results of Harstad Strategic Research survey of 2,000 voters age 18 to 33, March-April 2014; graphic by Governing

Results of Harstad Strategic Research survey of 2,000 Americans age 18 to 33, March-April 2014; graphic by Governing

On every major issue—college costs, welfare, civil rights, health care—the youngest voting bloc says greater government involvement is fine. This result seems to challenge Cody Hausman's assessment that his generation is deeply suspicious of government. The survey may support Ryan Casey's thesis that Millennials are civic problem solvers who won't let political ideals or slogans stop them from using government to get things done.

The Millennials' values will jar Republicans as much as their policy preferences. HSR asked respondents to identify their two most important values. The most popular choices? Equality and opportunity (hey! Cody Hausman was right about equality!). The least important values: patriotism and competition (curse all that cooperative learning in school, right, Sibby?).

But the He-Man Government-Haters Club on parade at last night's debate need not sweat too much. Millennials can answer all the surveys they want, but they aren't showing up to vote yet:

The survey also reported a one cause for concern: They’ll be a sharp drop in Millennial turnout this November, with only 28 percent reporting they’ll definitely vote in the midterm elections. For the 2016 presidential election, 55 percent said they definitely planned to vote.

A separate poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics published a few weeks ago found conservative Millennials are more enthusiastic about voting in November [Mike Maciag, "How to Appeal to Millennial Voters," Governing, 2014.05.16].

Rick Weiland doesn't need to win the message war with the youth. He needs to put absentee ballots in their hands and get them to vote on their values.

Bonus Rick Booster: HSR finds that 71% of young respondents believe "The system is rigged in favor of the rich."


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