Press "Enter" to skip to content

Opportunity Knocks: Poll Shows Rounds Below 40%

Nine million dollars just doesn't go as far as it used to. Republican candidate Mike Rounds jumped into South Dakota's Senate race almost two years ago and bragged that he'd raise nine million dollars to finance a top-notch campaign. Two months before the election, the latest KSFY-KOTA-Aberdeen American News poll shows that all that bluster has gotten Rounds less than 40% of the vote:

  • Mike Rounds: 39%
  • Rick Weiland: 28%
  • Larry Pressler: 25%
  • Gordon Howie: 3%
  • undecided: 5%

Jeepers, Mike: if your votes-per-dollar count doesn't improve, you're going to come out of this election looking like Annette Bosworth.

In this sample of over 500 likely voters, called September 3–7, a majority said they want someone other than Rounds to be their next Senator. The trick now is to get them to agree on an alternative.

This poll marks the first straight affirmation of Pressler pal Ted Muenster's February assertion that the Republican-turned-Independent Pressler could break 20%. This poll also gets me to roll back my earlier hypothesis that Pressler would hurt Rounds at the polls more than Weiland. Consider the results the KSFY poll finds if Pressler were not on the ballot:

  • Rounds: 44%
  • Weiland: 42%
  • Howie/undecided: 14%

Take Pressler out, and you get a statistical dead heat between a well-financed and well-recognized former two-term governor and a supposedly awful, supposedly ultra-liberal Democrat. Pressler isn't splitting the liberal vote; he's splitting the "Mike Rounds sucks" vote.

I will not presume to suggest that Team Weiland should try to get Pressler to drop out of the race and endorse the Democrat. Pressler is campaigning with total seriousness. He just announced a rigorous campaign trip that, after tonight's debate on KSFY (to be broadcast live on C-SPAN2, available online!), takes him to the following venues:

  1. Friday: debate at United Tribes Technical College in Rapid City;
  2. Saturday: indy forum at Rapid City Public Library
  3. Sunday: working the streets in Deadwood and Lead
  4. Monday: Bison, McIntosh, and McLaughlin
  5. Tuesday: Mobridge and Aberdeen
  6. Wednesday: candidates' forum at the National Association of Retired Federal Employees at the Aberdeen Ramkota, followed by a visit with Sisseton-Wahpeton tribal leaders in Roberts County, then Milbank.

Pressler isn't going to quit, and we Democrats shouldn't waste our breath trying to get him to quit. Nor should we even consider the idea of surrendering to the Independent (even though that may be working in Kansas, where the withdrawing Democrat has helped Independent Greg Orman take a slim lead over incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts).

Team Weiland thus faces this needle-threading: how to convince Weiland-leaners in the Pressler camp that Pressler isn't so hot while leaving the Rounds-leaners in the Pressler camp to their own devices? Route #1, suggested by a friend of the blog, is to remind them that Pressler may not be Rounds, but he may well be Reagan. The Reagan era was Pressler's heyday. That's the comfortable nostalgia factor that makes certain Republicans willing to throw sleazy salesman Rounds overboard. But if we reminds change-minded voters that Reagan got us into the hallelujah-corporations! mess that Democrats are trying to fix, we can perhaps sour that nostalgia among the half of Pressler voters Weiland needs to win.

Add that strategy to the pounding Rounds is taking on EB-5, with only desperate and unsubstantive responses (are you sure you want to skip the KSFY and UTTC debates, Mike?), and you have a recipe for a depressed Rounds turnout and a strong anti-Rounds majority sending someone other than a Republican to represent South Dakota in the U.S. Senate.


  1. 96 Tears 2014.09.10

    Rounds can do two things to stop the slide (yes, it's a real slide when more voters have an unfavorable impression than a favorable one and your name is ubiquitous from the start of the campaign) which has been hitched to the political trainwreck in the GOAC and now the Board of Regents:

    1. Man up, Mike, and show up at the KSFY debate. Use the element of surprise to change the narrative. The public is now beginning to understand this EB-5 mess is a really big, ugly deal.

    2. Answer the questions without the smarm and smugness which polluted your DakotaFest and State Fair performances. Take responsibility, give us a real, detailed explanation and not a brush off, apologize and give us good reasons why you are still the best candidate for Senate.

    Man up, Mike! You are not the scrub-faced, golden boy left standing after the Barnett-Kirby trainwreck of 2002. It's 12 years later and you are now the trainwreck that creates opportunities for someone else. Time to hit the reset button with less than two months of shitstorm left to go.

  2. aaron 2014.09.10


  3. Greg 2014.09.10

    If Weiland is going win this election he needs to focus on the issues and tell us what he is about. EB 5 will not win this election for him. If he is really a strong candidate its time to show it.

  4. Roger Elgersma 2014.09.10

    South Dakota voters for National health care is now at 54%. That is the total of Weiland plus Pressler. Although some of that still may be just Republicans that think Mike Rounds sucks. Which means that some Republicans think that Mike Rounds is worse than National health care.

  5. mike from iowa 2014.09.10

    Dakota's best hope is for a Weiland win and Dems keeping control of the Senate. Weiland will get a shot at some plum committees whereas Rounds or Pressler would not.

  6. larry kurtz 2014.09.10

    How long before Pressler's name could be stricken from the ballot?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.10

    Whoops! Sorry, Aaron! Typo on my part. Weiland's number is indeed 28%. Error fixed!

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.10

    Greg, did you miss the memos from Weiland on limiting Big Money influence on campaign finance and offering Medicare as a public option to improve the ACA and increase competition in health coverage? Those seem like pretty noteworthy issues that tell us what he's about.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.10

    96, I'm with you. Rounds needs to do like Michael Douglas in The American President: march out in front of the cameras unexpectedly, take the mic, and speak straight from the heart. He could walk into the KSFY debate tonight, take over the microphone, tell us everything he knows about GOED/NBP/EB-5, refute all the partisan fluff (that's all it is, right, Mike? Dick?) that Weiland and Wismer and Tyler are throwing, and dispose of the issue before President Obama comes no air to say we're invading Syria. That ballsy move alone could win Rounds back the majority that his millions of campaign dollars, name recognition, and salesman smile ought to be buying him.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.10

    Nobody's going to get stricken from the ballot, Larry. Absentee voting starts next week Friday, September 19. Ballots will likely be printed this week. Candidates had to withdraw by August 5. There is no sign of any legal grounds on which Pressler's presence on the ballot could be challenged, and if there were, as was the case with the Bosworth primary petition, there is little likelihood a court would act with enough due haste to stop the printing of ballots at this point.

    Why do you ask—did you have an idea?

  11. larry kurtz 2014.09.10

    No idea but to keep discrediting Pressler's choice to enter the race as a carpetbagger. His address for every board on which he serves with Harv Jewett, Kevin Schieffer and others is Washington, DC.

  12. Bill Fleming 2014.09.10

    I want to hear where the candidates stand on military action against ISIL in Syria. Is Mr. Rounds going to support the President in that action? Or will he sign up with the "let's jerk Obama's chain" gang? I know it's a big GOP meme to make sure Obama has a "failed presidency." But do we really want to fail against ISIL? Don't we need to come together on this?

  13. WayneF 2014.09.10

    I didn't see his performance at DakotaFest, but I did witness Rounds's part in the "debate" at the State Fair. He had a vacuous grin on his face the whole hour, evaded pointed questions, and generally exhibited lack of intelligence and leadership.

    DD's spokesman says Rounds knew nothing about EB-5 mismanagement during the time he was governor. Do we really want someone like this representing South Dakota at the federal level?

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    Weiland's election turns on Democrats turning out to vote, it needs to be made clear that Rick is actually running against three Republicans, regardless of what Pressler and Howie call themselves.
    Pressler has stated in debates that if elected he will regain his senate leadership and seniority, is that a Republican, Democrat, or Independent seniority? Voters need to be reminded.
    Pressler also stated that as a Independent he can work with both sides of the aisle, so what? Didn't he do that as a Republican.
    Pressler may see himself as a moderate Republican and given his stance on social issues may well be, but when it comes to conservatism, he is Ronald Reagan.
    I'd suggest that Larry will caucus with Republicans on most issues that face South Dakota economics.
    And finally, Larry is campaigning hard among Indians (remember Tim Johnson's 500 vote win), Rick needs to remind Indian voters that under the Reagan/Pressler years, tribes took severe funding hits that devastated reservation economies, what are the assurances Larry won't do this again?
    Rick obviously has to campaign against the three Republicans in this race, hopefully he will do that in the up coming debates.

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    It has been suggested that Mike Rounds snuck into the governors through the backdoor because he kept himself above the in-fighting of the two top candidates.
    Is his strategy still working now that he is at the center of attention of the GOED/EB-5/NBP/SDRC/BOR (note how we keep adding abbreviations to the Rounds scandals)?

  16. GTRock 2014.09.10

    I'm for Weiland. I also have some thoughts on Pressler. a) I find it interesting that if he would happen to win, this is his old seat. Didn't we vote him out of this seat before. I think we have a better candidate in Weiland to send this time. b) I applaud him for not taking any bribe while a US Senator, which is well documented. But as Paul Harvey use to say, what is the rest of the story? I've never heard it. After he was offered the bribe did he go to the authorities and tell them that he, as a sitting US Senator was bribed and he turned it down? He would have had a location of where it took place and a description of who it was that bribed him. Maybe I have missed it & he has went into detail about it. If not, since it is central to his campaign, it would be interesting to hear the rest of the story. Maybe during one of the debates.

  17. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.10

    Can Pressler attribute his rise in the polls to Kevin Woster of KELOLand?

  18. bearcreekbat 2014.09.10

    GTRock raises some interesting questions about the attempted bribery. I appreciate Bill's link regarding Pressler's reporting the attempted bribe.

    One of my friends, however, pointed out other questions that I have not seen answered: Why did the FBI think Pressler might accept the bribe? What did they find about Pressler's past that made them think Pressler was a candidate who would accept the offered bribe?

  19. bearcreekbat 2014.09.10

    mike, interesting link! I still wonder what the FBI knew about Pressler that lead them to focus upon him as a potential Senator that the FBI thought might accept a bribe!

  20. mike from iowa 2014.09.10

    Haven't found out why he was targeted,but I did find this NBC interview from Feb,1980 and it has a few interesting items .

    PAULEY: Well this morning Tom reported that at least one U.S. Senator did go to the house and did in fact turn them down…
    ROSS: Yes
    PAULEY: A Pessler from…
    ROSS: Senator--right as I understand Senator Larry Pressler who is a Republican from South Dakota, who for a short while was running for presidency-- for the Republican nomination for president, was apparently approached by a woman he knew and told that her friends would offer money and he went to the house on W Street where the undercover agents apparently suggested to him that they had associates in Arab countries who might need a safe refuge in this country. And in return for his assurance that he could help them stay in the country it would be possible perhaps for campaign contributions. He is said to have said ‘no forget it, that’s illegal,’ and left the room as Tom said. And he is quoted this morning as saying he’s angry with the FBI. He has no idea why he was invited there. But he is the one, I’m told, who turned it down.
    PAULEY: He didn’t…
    ROSS: Earlier I had heard that no one had said no, but apparently Senator Pressler did.
    PAULEY: But Pressler didn’t report the offer. Did he?
    ROSS: No, he said there was no direct offer of money and therefore he didn’t report it. But he did not report it to any authorities, that’s correct.
    PAULEY: Well Brian thank you for being with us this morning.
    ROSS: Thank you Jane.
    Copyright © 2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  21. Bill Dithmer 2014.09.11

    Music to campaign by. I see an old van driving around playing this through a loud speaker annoying as many people as you can.

    Full moon is the only excuse I need.


    Man up Mike, today is your tomorrow
    Man up Mike, lets hear about yesterday
    Man up Mike, you know you have a problem
    Now we're anxiously awaiting
    For what you have to say

    12 years ago, you said that you knew us
    8 years ago, I thought you went insane
    You screwed up the Playhouse and Vahalla
    Flying must do something to your brain
    You can still fix this misunderstanding
    Your reputation could be on the line
    The people that you want the votes from
    Are tired of excuses

    Man up Mike, today is your tomorrow
    Man up Mike, lets hear about yesterday
    Man up Mike, you know you have a problem
    Now we're anxiously awaiting
    For what you have to say

    4 years ago you left us owing money
    2 years ago we learned of EB5
    Aint it time that you just stop pretending
    We're tired of insurance man shuck and jive
    You might still have time to fix your problem
    Doing a debate would work just fine
    We know that you have a busy schedule
    So talk to us or you wont be
    In DC on our dime

    Man up Mike, today is your tomorrow
    Man up Mike, lets hear about yesterday
    Man up Mike, you know you have a problem
    Now we're anxiously awaiting
    For what you have to say

    The Blindman PS 96 Tears sounds like a grunge band name

  22. JeniW 2014.09.11

    I was finally able watch the commerce about the EB-5. Although, technically, it was not a "live" auction, but it was still an auction because the prize of the green card was to go to the investor who offered/bid the most.

Comments are closed.