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Hottest South Dakota Legislative Candidate Videos Exposed!… or at Least Counted

We know who's not; now, who's hot on YouTube? Out of 112 Legislative candidates videos who recorded YouTube pitches for SDPB, here are the ten who got the most views as of Sunday, September 30, at 00:00 MDT:

1. Rep. Stace Nelson, Republican, District 19 House (605 views): Rep. Nelson proves that YouTube popularity is not driven solely by beauty. Pay attention, GOP: Nelson may know better than any of you how to use social media to get his message out and organize.

2. Christine Erickson, Republican, District 11 House (486 views): Erickson is one of only two women in the top ten... but 20% is also the percentage of female candidates in the SDPB video pool. Possibly boosting Erickson's numbers: Colts fans Googling her brother Adam Vinatieri! Possibly decreasing her vote total: proudly touting her work as a "revenue agent" for state government. Aren't those the same bad characters who used to chase Uncle Jesse and J.D. Hogg around the backwoods?

3. Chris Studer, Democrat, District 22 Senate (374 views): TV experience helps; so does the red necktie!

4. Rep. Jon Hansen, Republican, District 25 House (322 views): I maintain Hansen's getting most of his juice from his Christian slater impression.

5. Mark Mickelson**, Republican, District 13 House (251 views): Mickelson and District 13 GOP teammate Steve Westra appear to have coordinated outfits.

6. Mike Knudson, Democrat, District 12 House (242 views): One well-known son of a Republican (hey, I'm not cussing them out!) follows another, though unlike George Mickelson's son, Mike Knudson has bolted from his dad's party.

7. Sen. Angie Buhl, Democrat, District 15 Senate (233 views): Everybody touts small-business cred, even the bluest Dem in Pierre!

8. Sam Khoroosi, Democrat, District 13 Senate (219 views): Another blue shirt in District 13!

9. Fred Deutsch, Republican, District 4 House (217 views): The only Fred on the Legislative ballot* starts this video with the happiest face on SDPB. Look at that smile, that dynamic face, that bouncy hand! He's totally into it! I still want Kathy Tyler and Jim Peterson to beat him, but as a speech guy (and a fellow bicycle dude), I have to admit, Fred's fun to watch.

10. Zachary Anderson, Democrat, District 3 House (213 views): Possibly the youngest candidate on the Legislative ballot (he's 21), Anderson rounds out a top ten dominated by young candidates. Click on their YouTube stats (the little bar-chart icon to the right, just below each video on its YouTube page), and you'll see these young folks appear to be a bit more adept at promoting their videos on Facebook.

Just missing the cut are District 3 Republican Dan Kaiser (210) and District 2 Democrat Chuck Welke (200), the only other two candidates crossing the 200-view threshold as of last night's count.

*Fred note! The only other Fred anywhere in South Dakota on the November ballot is Sheriff Fred Koester of Murdo, who is running to keep his job in Haakon County against William Morrisson of Rapid City. Neither candidate has a video on YouTube to discuss the state of law enforcement between Philip, Midland, and the Cheyenne River. That's a shame... because we all know the world needs more Fred videos:

That funky tune you hear near Fulton is YouTube star Stace humming this song.

**Update 19:05 MDT: Since Democrats Susy Blake and Jesse Vavreck both dropped out of the District 13 race in August, Westra and his GOP colleague Mark Mickelson face no challengers on the November ballot. Thus, everybody else moves up one notch, and we promote District 3's Dan Kaiser to #10 on the list of contesting candidates getting YouTube views! Way to go, Dan! Hand that man a sandwich!


  1. mike 2012.09.30

    Is it safe to say Stace Nelson is a stud? The guy is turning into a gubernatorial prospect on his own. Forget Gordon Howie and Bill Napoli - Stace is the guy if you are a Tea Partier.

  2. LK 2012.09.30

    I don't want to commit demography without a license, but aren't 5 of these candidates from districts in or near Sioux Falls so they can get more word of mouth traffic?

  3. Les 2012.09.30

    Stace has life experience besides that handed down by family, something sorely lacking in today's society.

  4. larry kurtz 2012.09.30

    Rep. Nelson makes Bill Janklow look like a flower child: yikes.

  5. grudznick 2012.09.30

    Mr. Nelson is yet very young he approaches all problems wielding the only tool his short span of life experience has afforded him.

  6. Justin 2012.09.30

    So when he gets old, will he rely solely on saying he is older than everybody in lieu of a cogent argument?

    There is one curmudgeon I frequently encounter who uses that tactic.

  7. grudznick 2012.09.30

    I know. I often have to call my friend Bill on that, too.

  8. Bill Fleming 2012.09.30

    Ha! Here's Stace's speech in a nutshell:

    "This isn't about politics or personalities, it's about you the voters. But enough about that, let's talk about me, my family, every thing anyone's ever said about me that's even marginally good, everything I've ever done except the weird stuff...blah...blah... blah and blah.

    But enough about that, let's talk about you and why you should vote for me... Stace Nelson, and Semper Fideles. Or else."

    LOL. Good job Stace. That's tellin' em, boy.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.30

    LK, good demographic question! I considered that possibility, but remember that even in the big city, the Legislative districts are drawn to have roughly the same number of voters as the rural districts. Each candidate thus has about the same size potential audience. We might find some skew toward urban viewers if more urban viewers have good Web connections; rural folks without broadband won't be loading much YouTube over dial-up (oh woe! how I remember those days!).

    But then consider the videos getting the least action. Of the five candidates whom I featured earlier as having the lowest viewership, three are from Sioux Falls, one from Rapid City, and one from Yankton. Third from the bottom, Republican Steve Westra, is from the same district (13) as #5 eye-catcher Republican Mickelson and #8 Democrat Khoroosi. In District 12, House Dem Mike Knudson makes the top ten with nearly nine times more views than Senate Dem Tom Cool gets across town in District 11.

    Thus, I am willing to hypothesize that these YouTube view counts reflect something other than the demographics of the candidates' districts. I hypothesize the numbers reflect candidates' efforts to promote themselves online, enthusiasm of their supporters, Google-juice luck, and, possibly, some faint shadow of popular support.

  10. LK 2012.09.30

    I bow to your analysis. I was going to say earlier that your point about youth and Facebook facility is certainly an important part of the numbers.

    In Stace Nelson's case, I would guess that noteriety begats Google juice.

  11. Justin 2012.09.30

    I know the only incumbent on my ballot in SF is in your bottom 5.

    Campaigning has been almost non-existent here. I've gotten one flier from Brian Kaatz and that is it.

  12. Fred Deutsch 2012.09.30

    Life is to short not to live it with gusto! Thanks for the shout out, even if you are rooting for the wrong characters . . .

  13. larry kurtz 2012.09.30

    Fred: you scare the spit out of me. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers calls it the Chamber Pot of Commerce.

  14. Fred Deutsch 2012.09.30

    LK: whaaaa?

  15. grudznick 2012.09.30

    You shouldn't litter, Larry. It's ecologically unsound.

  16. Justin 2012.09.30

    I'm not scared.

    But I would like to know what you think of a ballot being sent out without both pros and cons for four of the Governor's own initiatives, Fred.

    I think it is inexcusable, and that nobody deserving of public office can legitimately disagree. What do you think?

  17. grudznick 2012.09.30

    You trying to get Mr. Deutsch to lambast Mr. Gant, Justin?
    That's a sticky strip of fly goop you're trying to get a nice gentleman to put his elbow on.

  18. larry kurtz 2012.09.30

    grud: your orthographic ineptitude means you are none of the people i thought you were.

  19. grudznick 2012.09.30

    I never claimed to know diddly about birds.

  20. Justin 2012.09.30

    I'm trying to get his opinion on the biggest insult to democracy going on in our state right now. He wouldn't have to lambast Gant to say he doesn't agree with it and he supports the recall of the ballots.

    Heck, they already have mistakes listing a D as an R, I would think all the R's running for office would want that changed if they were in the same position. That would also require a recall of the absentee ballots and a change to the official ballot. Or maybe just the latter.

  21. Justin 2012.09.30

    If he doesn't want to reply, it will only serve to strengthen my belief that this isn't a Gant issue as much as it is DD, Jackley and the Republican Party that drove the decision and are threatening anybody that would dare question the decision.

  22. Les 2012.09.30

    Grud, your reply on the old carmudgeon talk would be to invoke Reagan and the other Walter when Ronnie said " I'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience". Nuff said.

  23. grudznick 2012.09.30

    I'm not as smart as those guys, Les.

  24. grudznick 2012.09.30

    Justin, I'm guessing that if Mr. Deutsch doesn't reply it's because he is busy shaking hands, communicating his position, meeting future consituents, kissing babies and promoting his positive image.

    He may not have time to answer loaded questions on a blog. Even a blog as big as this one.

  25. Justin 2012.09.30

    I prefer to think of it as an important question and an opportunity to distinguish himself.

    I am going to call each of the candidates in my district this week and ask them the same question.

    I will report back.

  26. Justin 2012.09.30

    Btw, I still think Stace is a doppelganger for the Larry Drake, the actor that played Benny Stulwitz on L.A. Law.

  27. LK 2012.09.30


    I was agreeing with Cory that those who use Facebook best would be a be to create more views.

    Rep Nelson has become rather notorious and would have more South Dakotans Googling him than most other candidates.

    Or were you talking to larry?

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.30

    Justin, I would love to hear the results of those calls! Write 'em up, and you get a full guest post!

    Larry Drake—yes! I can see that! (See also Drake's guest spot on Voyager.)

    Fred, enthusiasm matters a lot to me. It won't get you my vote, but if I have to put up with you in Pierre (District 4, spare yourselves and Fred the grief!), I will at least enjoy some passionate, sincere, Mel-Olson-esque speeches.

  29. Justin 2012.09.30

    I had no idea you were a Voyager fan. It is the best Star Trek series, in my opinion. I only own the first four seasons on DVD, but I'll have to stream that episode tonight on Amazon to see Stace Nelson in intergalactic action.

  30. Fred Deutsch 2012.10.03

    Amazing how FB makes a difference. I put a link on my page yesterday morning. This morning I see I've gained over 100 add'l views. Now if only views = votes!

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.03

    That's an interesting test, Fred! And indeed, it would be interesting to see how many of those views translate into votes. If more people hit the Madville Times tip jar, maybe I can quit my day job and spend all of November compiling social media data and correlating it with the election results! ;-)

    But consider: even if YouTube views get you one vote, the return on investment is pretty good, since it takes all of ten seconds and zero dollars to share a link on Facebook.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.03

    Check your stats, Fred, and you'll see that even getting embedded here on a liberal rag has gotten you 30 extra views, 9% of your current 323 views.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.03

    Stace Nelson got a slightly bigger Madville Times boost: 73 views out of his current 705. Dang: someone's going to get on my case about in-kind contributions.

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