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Third Poll Finds Rounds Falling Below 40%; Pressler Now Credible Threat

Nielson Brothers Polling reinforces the growing belief that Mike Rounds is far from the bulletproof Senate candidate Republicans thought he would be. Their latest polling data finds that Rounds has dropped four points to 39%. Nielsons' finding joins Public Policy Polling (mid-August) and Survey USA (early September) in finding Rounds unable to break 40%. Even Rounds's own propaganda poll finds him at 41%.

Six out of ten South Dakotans want someone other than Mike Rounds to be Senator. The problem is, they are split on whom to pick. Rick Weiland still comes in second, but like Rounds, he has dropped four points from Nielsons' July poll, to 26%. Surging a monster ten points is Independent Larry Pressler, now at 24%. If two data points made a trend, Pressler could surge over 30% by Election Day... and Mike Rounds faces the embarrassing possibility of defeat at the hands not of a Democrat but a retired Independent with no money.

Nielson asks two important hypotheticals: What would happen if Pressler dropped out, and what would happen if Weiland dropped out. In a sock to the gut to Democrats, it appears Pressler would actually have the better chance of beating Rounds:

Nielson Brothers Polling hypotheticals, U.S. Senate race, September 2014
Graphics from Northern Plains News

Uff da: Pressler may be able to combine nostalgia and freedom of party brand into a threat that no one thought would be credible, let alone a direct threat to Mike Rounds's ascendancy.

By the way, Gordon Howie continues to be statistical noise, winning just 4% support. But in a race that could tighten, maybe it's time for Howie to invite Weiland and Pressler out for a conversation about how to achieve the one goal that unites them: beating Mike Rounds.


  1. larry kurtz 2014.09.29

    Cory, i protest the use of a green line for Pressler: it really should be pink.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.29

    Take that up with Mr. Epp, Larry!

  3. larry kurtz 2014.09.29

    Imagine a scenario where South Dakota's current governor is reelected and appoints a replacement for either a resigning Senator-elect Pressler or Rounds.

  4. Bill Fleming 2014.09.29

    Interesting comment, Cory. Not sure what to make of it. I'm not really all that sure "beating Mike Rounds" is Mr. Pressler's goal. For better or worse, I think Pressler's goal has always been to either beat everybody, or nobody.

    If, as some suggest, Pressler is running to divide the Weiland vote, thus assuring a Rounds victory, these recent poll numbers seem to suggest he's having some success at that.

    On the other hand, it could just as easily be said that Rick is dividing the Pressler vote.


    The "October Surprise" could turn out to be something none of us ever imagined (except perhaps my diabolical friend, Don Frankenfeld ;-)

  5. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    We have to work harder for Rick, that's what I get from this poll.
    Rick has the right message for South Dakota, but it has to be pounded home that Rick is running against three Republicans that have split their party.

  6. Steve Sibson 2014.09.29

    "Howie to invite Weiland and Pressler out for a conversation about how to achieve the one goal that unites them: beating Mike Rounds."

    Why would Howie invite two liberals to discuss how to beat a liberal?

  7. Bill Fleming 2014.09.29

    Sibby, he already has... Repeatedly.

  8. danno 2014.09.29

    Seems to me that either Pressler or Weiland should bow out and throw support to the other... but that's just me.

  9. Owen reitzel 2014.09.29

    One liberal only Steve

  10. lesliengland 2014.09.29

    we have got to get rick's numbers up!

  11. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    Even if Weiland or Pressler were to drop out of the race, their names will still be on the ballot and one endorsing the other will have little effect, except for bold headlines.
    I'll stick to my opinion that politicians have to contend with their egos in making that decision. Generally speaking, the only time candidates drop out is because they don't have the funds to continue a campaign.
    We shouldn't even consider Rick dropping out, it ain't going to happen, if Pressler were to drop out, it would be an October surprise.

  12. Bill Dithmer 2014.09.29

    As far as I can see, nothing has changed. KW is working hard but cant get the bump he needs to beat Rounds. LP is doing the very least and spending almost nothing and is still polling about the same. Meanwhile, the Rounds campain is getting ready to spend a big chunck of that $9 million dollars he got from???

    The senate race is over.

    The Blindman

  13. Greg 2014.09.29

    The polls really show how weak of a Democrat candidate they chose. In spite of EB5 Weiland is still losing ground. Weiland's 15 second ads are 5 seconds too long as he really has nothing to say.

  14. Bill Fleming 2014.09.29

    I find the following personally helpful to give some context when looking at these polls. If everyone taking the poll were voting along straight "party lines," and assuming the poll sample is in representative proportions of SD registered voters, the numbers would look something like this:

    Republican (Rounds) 46%
    Democratic (Weiland) 34%
    Independent (Pressler and Howie combined) 16%

    So apparently, both Weiland and Rounds are underperforming (By -7 and -8 points respectively, as is Howie (by -4 points, if you divide the Indy proportion in half), and Pressler is surging (with +16 points more than his allotted 8).

    Might not be the best way to look at it, but it seems logical, doesn't it?

    Here's my source for the numbers:

  15. Slynn 2014.09.29

    Neither Weiland nor Pressler should or will drop out. The EB 5 tsunami is on its way and will knock Rounds down to third place (he is the one candidate who should drop out). There will be a reward for all of Cory's hard work!

    No money has yet been spent against Pressler--he's in a bubble right now. If South Dakotans believe in Larry 2.0, then maybe he will win. But if Democrats and Independents hold him at all accountable for his record, Weiland will win.

    Rounds is going to lose either way.

    There is much being written about Pressler and Weiland fighting for second place, but they will end up in the fight for first place.

    Roger is right. We have to work harder for Rick!

  16. Jenny 2014.09.29

    Is it true what Dithmer said above? Rounds is sitting on millions in campaign money to be used these last weeks of the campaign?
    My heart bleeds for SD Democrats ;(

  17. Sam 2 2014.09.29

    All Rick is doing is assuring a Rounds victory dance. He will finish behind Larry when it is over. Rick needs to drop out

  18. JeniW 2014.09.29

    No, Sam, he does not need to, and should not drop put just to appease you.

    A few days ago I received an online petition to "sign" if I thought Pressler should drop out. I refused to sign it, not because Pressler is my first choice (although IMO Pressler is 100 times better than Rounds.) I would not even tell Chad Haber to drop out (please forgive me Cory.)

    I was asked by the organization that conveyed the petition if the organization should support the petition. I replied "no." The reason why I would never tell anyone, no matter how much I dislike a candidate, even Rounds, to drop out because it undermines the concept of democracy and voters having a choice.

    For most candidates it takes a lot of time, money, energy, dedication, and the ability to withstand having crap thrown at them from day one of their campaign. If being a candidate and fulfilling the duties of the elected office was pure fun and easy, there would be a lot more people campaigning for office.

    No matter how much we like, or dislike, a candidate, they are only on the scene for a short time. Democracy is meant to last for as long as our country's political and legal process exists.

    No, no candidate should drop out just to appease someone(s). Dropping out due to financial purposes, health concerns, concerns for family members is a different animal.

  19. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    Rounds backed off raising $9 million for the senate race about the same time EB-5 started making headlines. The last I checked Rounds was at about $3.5-4 million in his war chest.
    The greatest push in October will be from the Super Pacs, although Karl Rove hasn't committed to the South Dakota we'll probably see some investment.
    Last week it was reported that Rove and the other Super Pacs would spend about $82 million in advertising for the mid-terms.
    Maybe Rounds is right about the $9 million, only it will come from Pacs

  20. larry kurtz 2014.09.29

    Somebody raised $9 million to pay Annette, Larry, Larry, and Jason to run interference for Rounds: a candidate proving to be quite an albatross for the national GOP.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.29

    Very logical explanation, Bill F.! The two main party guys are both underperforming their registration base. Both parties need to talk to their base and ask just what the heck they are thinking.

    Sam 2, tell me why your argument bears any moral weight against Weiland that it does not bear equally against Pressler.

  22. larry kurtz 2014.09.29

    Cory, unless Dems can recruit people to run in primaries registering anything other than earth hater is ridiculous. Eliminate primaries and nominate candidates at conventions: Montana, too.

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