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Tea Party Unique in Rating Noem’s Job Performance Above Daugaard’s: Why?

Last updated on 2014.08.10

Nielson Brothers Polling unearths another anomaly in the thinking of South Dakota voters. Their July 23–28 survey of voters found that Governor Dennis Daugaard enjoys more support than Congresswoman Kristi Noem among almost every political group:

Daugaard Noem
Overall Job Approval % 64.1 58.0
...among GOP 82.0 80.4
...among Dems 41.0 29.2
...among Indies 62.4 50.5
...among liberals 24.1 5.8
...among conservatives 77.4 78.0
...among “Tea Party” 87.8 96.5

Among the political affiliations and self-identifications checked by Nielson, the only folks who are more likely (outside the margin of error) to get a bigger charge out of Kristi Noem's performance than Dennis Daugaard's are Tea Party people.

Help me understand this difference. If I were a Tea Partier, in what way could I say that Rep. Noem is doing her job in Washington in better alignment with my desires than Governor Daugaard is doing his job in Pierre? Does Noem's support for the Farm Bill, 16 months late as it was, epitomize the Tea Party vision for government better than, say, Daugaard's support for criminal justice reform? Does Noem's government shutdown demonstrate greater fealty to Tea Party principles than Daugaard's "new norm" of permanently hamstringing public education funding?

Is the difference something they don't do? Does Noem's failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act make her a bigger Tea Party hero than Daugaard's failed effort to repeal tenure and impose merit pay on public school teachers?

Noem and Daugaard have both caught heck for not brewing strong enough Tea. In 2012, the Club for Growth gave Noem a nearly failing score for Tea Party economic policy. Daugaard is widely and correctly viewed as one of the more moderate members of the South Dakota Republican Party (which in South Dakota is like saying John Sullivan is one of the lighter members of the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line). At no point in the last ffour years has either Noem or Daugaard really foamed at the mouth over the prospect of watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants and RINOs. Tea isn't their cup of tea.

I'm left wondering if that anomalous Tea Party bent for Kristi simply boils down to image. Noem on a horse is a lady Reagan. Daugaard looks kinda studly in his checked shirts, but we all know he's not a cowboy; he's a lawyer-banker type. Policy equivalence doesn't matter, because Tea Partiers don't vote with their cerebra. They vote with their limbic systems. On an emotional level, Noem better affirms who we want to be and who we want our ladies to be.

And maybe, just maybe, supporting Noem provides the most regressively conservative among us another form of emotional comfort that Daugaard cannot: What do those dirty liberals mean, calling me a missoggy— miso soup— Mississauga— sexist, just because I want to ban abortion, block equal pay laws, and restore 1950s-style gender oppression? I like Kristi Noem! See? I can't be sexist!

If I'm missing something more substantive that would explain Noem's higher approval than Daugaard's among Tea Party voters, let me know. But I just can't see the job performance markers that would earn Noem any different score from Daugaard from the most radical conservative voters.

p.s., from the Thinking Out Loud Department: The difference between Daugaard's approval rating and Noem's is 6.1 percentage points. The difference between Daugaard's lead over Susan Wismer and Noem's lead over Corinna Robinson is 6.3 percentage points.


  1. larry kurtz 2014.08.11

    Noem: Moderate Indies Limbic Failure

  2. ck 2014.08.11

    Noem: Mostly Incompetent Lying Female.

  3. Loren 2014.08.11

    Things I like about Ms Noem:
    1. She is NOT a witch!
    2. Unlike Sarah Palin, her sentences make sense... because she reads talking points verbatim!
    3. She has a nice looking horse!

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.11

    O.K., o.k., now what's the difference between Daugaard and Noem in the eyes of the Tea Party... and why would that difference be seen uniquely by Tea Partiers? Are Tea Partiers uniquely susceptible to the attraction Mr. Kurtz and I suspect?

  5. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Can't tell what the MOE is on the survey, but that probably explains some of it.

  6. Kal Lis 2014.08.11

    First, I plan to vote for anyone but Noem.

    She has, however, done remarkable press release work on one issue that everyone with a conscience can support, ending human trafficking. Not being privy to what happens behind the scenes, I have no idea if her legislative efforts match her PR efforts. Daugaard has been relatively silent on the issue

    South Dakota's Tea Party likely has a more socially conservative bent than the broader South Dakota electorate. When I read non-angry social conservative commentary, trafficking gets quite a bit of space, so it might be worth a few Tea Party percentage points

  7. Kal Lis 2014.08.11

    Off topic but Stranahan tweeted that Bosworth and Haber were doing a presser in front of Noem's office. Has anything come of that?

  8. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Double check me on this, but it looks like the sample size of Tea Party Peeps would be around 102, which means the statistic is only accurate to plus or minus 10%. Total survey sample appears to be around 615 people, of which 17.7 self identified as Tea Party. Short version, it may not mean anything, Cory. ;-)

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.11

    Darn it, Bill! You know I like looking for meaning where there may be none! (Oh, wait, that's the entire human species. :-) )

    Indeed, the gap between DD and KN approval among the Tea Partiers is within that MOE. I'd love to run the survey again with bigger numbers, see if the same pattern comes out.

  10. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Well, on the other hand, you can be fairly certain that the Dems and the "liberals" numbers are telling you something, Cory, especially the liberals.

  11. mike from iowa 2014.08.11

    Shoot,I thought MOE was moment of enlightenment until I realized it never happens to wingnuts.

  12. Troy 2014.08.11

    First, I think Bill is substantially right. Margin of Error is probably 95% of it with a 5% MOE.

    That said, I think these "labels" have so many factors that they are virtually meaningless:

    For instance, if one is aligned with the national tea party effort but not the state, is one a tea partier? And, then is one's view based on their adherence to state or national tea party agenda.

    Your looking for something where the factors make conclusions spurious.

  13. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    "Dems and the "liberals" numbers are telling you something"

    Yes, they are. Daugaard is a RINO, who supports big government and common core. That should then support the idea that a larger sample size of so-called Tea Party voters would look at Daugaard as less favorable than Noem.

  14. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Oh boy, a chance for me to agree with Sibson. Can't pass that up! Noem voting to shut down the government has to score big points with the tea party people. Same with voting against a debt ceiling increase. The Governor simply can't compete with that kind of contempt for government and expect to get reelected.

  15. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    "Noem voting to shut down the government has to score big points with the tea party people."

    That is a false accusation designed to discredit "limited" government conservatives. RINOs and their corporatist crony capitalists love an ever expanding government funded by federal debt, and so do liberal Democrats.

  16. Troy 2014.08.11


    LOL. Just so you know, according to this poll, roughly 20% of the electorate self-identifies as "Tea Party" and 87% like the Governor.

    Thus, assuming you consider yourself "Tea Party" and disapprove of the Governor, you and those who agree with you are a very small % of the electorate, under 3% (20% x 13%). Being such a small minority makes it easy for politicians to ignore you as an insignificant fringe.

  17. larry kurtz 2014.08.11

    Tory: LOL. Those insignificant earth haters put Kristi over the top in 2010.

  18. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    Yes Troy, you are part of the pragmatic mainsteam who agree with 41% of Democrats and 29% of liberals. I will stick to conservative limited government principles, even if that means I am not popular.

  19. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    Troy, sorry you in line with 24% of liberals. I am in line with 23% on "conservatives". We are the informed conservatives, who see why 24% of liberals agree with Daugaard. That percentage of informed conservatives will continue to climb as Daugaard continues with the common core agenda and the jobs can only be created by government mantra.

  20. mike from iowa 2014.08.11

    Sibby,you don't need "
    limited gubmint" to be unpopular. You could mess up a picnic worsen red ants.

  21. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    See Troy, look at some of your like minded liberals.

  22. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Trying to keep the math straight here, even though we appear to be bi-partisanly agreed that drawing any generalized conclusions from such small samples is pretty much meaningless.

    But then again, meaninglessness is right up Sibby's alley, so here goes.

    From what I can see, about 615 people took this survey, and 17.7% of them said they were "Tea Partiers." That's about 109 people. 87.8% of them (96 Tea Partiers) approve of Governor D's work performance, leaving 13 who apparently do not.

    Further, there are about 5 tea partiers in the survey who don't like Noem's job performance either.

    I'm tempted to guess that those same five are on both nay-sayer lists, and that on one of his more miserable days, Sibby would be one of them. But of course, that would be pure speculation on my part.

    As per Troy, the only thing we can really tell by these numbers is that the Tea Partiers who took the survey tend to like the job both DD and KN are doing more than do any other groups identified in the survey do.

    But leave it to Sibby to try to split those already frazzled fringe hairs.


  23. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Correction: "more than any other groups identified in the survey do."

    Too many "do's" above. Sorry.

  24. Tim 2014.08.11

    I hate to state the obvious, it could be her looks, let's face it she's not a hard woman to look at. From what I have seen, most true tea-party folks are easily distracted.

  25. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Here's the part of the survey that doesn't really come across in either Epp's analysis or Cory's. I'm doing a cut and paste from the link so we can all look at it together:

    How do you rate the job done by Representative Kristi Noem?
    614 responses, 3.92 percent margin of error:
    Strongly Approve 24.5 percent
    Somewhat Approve 33.5 percent
    Somewhat Disapprove 14.5 percent
    Strongly Disapprove 49.7 percent

    How do you rate the job done by President Barack Obama?
    615 responses, margin of error 3.92 percent:
    Strongly Approve 18.9 percent
    Somewhat Approve 17.8 percent
    Somewhat Disapprove 13.6 percent
    Strongly Disapprove 49.7 percent

    Now, looking at the composite disapprovals, I get that Noem's and Obama's disapproval ratings are almost identical, (given that the MOE is around 4%). That's the headline I'd be going with. And unless there's a typo in the post, that's the one that would make me nervous if I were on the Noem team.

    Net disapproval Noem = 14.5 + 49.7 = 64.2%
    Net disapproval Obama = 13.6 + 49.7 = 63.3%

    Or is something wrong here? Shouldn't the numbers add up to 100%?
    Is Epp just doing some wishful thinking? LOL

  26. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    Bill, you are ignoring that fact that conservatives have lower ratings for both, than do Tea Party folks. I fit that group better than I do the Tea Party group.

  27. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    (p.s. I think it's a typo. Our buddy Todd should probably correct it. :-)

  28. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    So what's wrong with being a Tea Partier, Sibby? Too grass-roots for ya?

  29. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    Did I say there was anything with the Tea Party group? Their only problem is that they have not realized that the Neo-Marxists of the Democrat Party and the Neo-fascists of the Republican Party are not going to allow the return of a Constitutional Republic. That died with the Federal Reserve in 1913.

  30. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    It sure seemed to me that you were identifying with the Tea Party Sibby.

    If not, what was your point about their liking Noem more than the Governor? Are you trying to weasel your way out of the Tea Party?

    (BTW, if you really wanted to align yourself with the group who gave low ratings to both candidates, you'd sign up with the liberals!)

  31. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    (....something tells me this is gonna be another one of those "watch Sibby-bounce-off-the-wall" days.)

  32. Steve Sibson 2014.08.11

    Bill, the point I was making is that the liberals were confirming that Daugaard is more of an establishment RINO than Noem.

  33. larry kurtz 2014.08.11

    i tweeted to link to bill's query above to todd.

  34. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Perhaps, Sibby, liberals understand the difference between a Congressperson and a Governor when it comes to job description.

  35. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.11

    Uh oh, Bill: I think you mis-copied Noem's strongly-disapprove. The original article and the e-mail I have show 27.5% for Noem's strongly-disapprove.

    Troy does make a good point about how the job approval numbers for Daugaard reinforce our common understanding: much as I would like to think there is a deep schism in the GOP that we Dems could exploit, a strong Tea Party that could effectively challenge the mainstream Republican power structure does not exist. Gordon Howie finished 4th in the 2010 gubernatorial primary; he will finish 4th in this year's Senate general. The Tea Party, whatever and wherever and however many they are, failed to unify and mobilize behind one candidate this spring, and the three candidates shouting "true conservative!" and casting neener-neeners at the current regime failed to catch fire (frankly, I could be persuaded that almost everyone who showed up for the primary voted on name recognition, not ideology; maybe that's why Rhoden beat Nelson by a nose and neither came close to Rounds).

    Look at the numbers above: considering margin of error, the above data show that South Dakota's Tea Partiers are as happy with Daugaard as the rest of the GOP. In other words, either the SDGOP is the Tea Party, or there is no South Dakota Tea Party, at least not in any way that practically matters.

  36. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Copied it straight from your link, Cory. Perhaps it's now been corrected? Maybe the Tea Party is the SD equivalent of unicorns? Hey, even Sibby can't quite decide is he is or he ain't one. ;-)

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.11

    Oh! I see it: you're looking at the numbers at the bottom; I'm looking at the text at the top: "Rep. Noem’s approval ratings were slightly less positive (58.0 percent) than Daugaard’s, with somewhat higher negatives. Respondents gave the third-term representative a 24.5 percent 'strongly approve' rating while 33.5 said they 'somewhat approve.' On the other hand, 14.5 percent responded that they 'somewhat disapprove, and 27.5 percent 'strongly disapprove.'"

  38. Bill Fleming 2014.08.11

    Ok, so the bottom one is a typo as I suspected. Thanks Cory!

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