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Weiland Starts Drinking Pressler’s Milkshake, Closing on Weak Rounds

Once upon a time—13 months ago, to be specific—a Harper poll found that Republican Mike Rounds would win the Senate race 52% to 38% over Democrat Rick Weiland. Mike Rounds had all the advantages: big money, name recognition, and that fat, juicy R in front of his name in red red South Dakota.

Mike Rounds took those advantages for granted and lost 15 of those percentage points. The latest Harper poll finds Rounds at 37%, Weiland 33%. Harper called 630 likely South Dakota voters from October 9 through October 11, riding the wave of national press that broke in Weiland's favor and Rounds's dis- last week.

Compare the Harper numbers to the Survey USA numbers that fueled the furor last week. Survey USA polled 616 likely South Dakota voters from October 1 through October 5 and found Rounds at 35%, Independent Larry Pressler at a surprising 32%, and Weiland at 28%. Assume no flukiness (and David Montgomery doesn't), note margin of error (about 4% each way), and we see Rounds hanging around his well-attested rock-bottom, Weiland climbing, and Pressler diving.

I don't think anyone hit Pressler that hard in the few days between Survey USA and Harris. It seems just as likely that we saw the first surge of the trend Public Policy Polling and others have seen coming: get closer to election, and folks toying with a Pressler vote will retreat from third-party novelty for their trusted brands. With Rounds stinking up his brand while Weiland does his proud, Weiland gets a bump that only gets bigger as the horserace narrative supplants the foregone conclusion that Republicans thought excused them from running a competent campaign.

Stuart Rothenberg moved South Dakota from "Republican Favored" to "Lean Republican" today, citing Rounds's "poor campaign and weak fundraising, as well as the candidate’s underwhelming performance on the stump." Larry Sabato made a similar move Friday, based on Rounds's "weakness."

Look at the poll numbers 13 months ago. Look at the poll numbers today.

Tell me, Republicans, how's that buyer's remorse working out for you?

p.s.: Down at the bottom, Gordon Howie scores 5% in Harper. In the cross-tabs, Howie gets 5% of the conservative vote and 5% of the liberal vote. In other words, Howie doesn't mobilize his Tea Party base any better than the margin of error he gets from liberals who should all know better.


  1. Don Frankenfeld 2014.10.13


    Very interesting results, particularly because Harper is regarded as a Republican-leaning firm. I think you stretch a point to claim my guy Pressler, still an astonishing factor even he is at 23%, has lost steam, because one can't easily compare two different polls. Better to look at the trend over time in the same poll. You suggest looking at the Harper Poll of 13 months ago. That poll had Pressler at zero, compared with 23% today; but we both know that first poll was too long ago to matter now. Fact is, this is a close, competitive and amazingly fluid three way race, with each of the three having a plausible path to victory.

    What can't be denied is that Mr. Rounds is in some trouble. My gut--which I readily confess is not even close to scientific, tells me that as people peel away from Rounds, they are likely to drift toward Howie or Pressler, not Weiland. On the other hand, Weiland is now the best-funded candidate, apparently. I, for one, will stay tuned.

  2. Jenny 2014.10.13

    When are the next debates and will they be broadcast on SDPT? Please, dems - hit those reservations hard!! Hit Sioux Falls hard!!

  3. larry kurtz 2014.10.13

    Today, Pressler looked and sounded like a doddering septuagenarian trying to bottle a genie from gas gathered from bad bowels.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.13

    Granted, Mr. Frankenfeld, that the race is too chaotic to put enormous stock in cross-poll comparisons. The fact that we are even talking about Pressler is all the proof we need that we have to stay tuned. Pressler could easily be as ignorable as our friend Howie, but he's not. Something strange and noteworthy is afoot with the electorate.

    That said, the meager data we have still suggest an immediate bounce Weiland's way, and a foreshadowing of how Pressler will have to fight now for credibilitiy against the onslaught of positive Weiland press. Perhaps even more importantly, the fact the chaos exists, added to Rounds's shedding of all but the rock-bottom, never-voting-anything-but-R supporters, supports the verdict that Rounds is a rotten campaigner. Entitlement mindset will do that to a guy.

  5. grudznick 2014.10.13

    Lar, let us not be mean to Mr. Pressler in regard to his dodderingness, let us talk about how polite and dapper he is and how he must seem a reasonable libbie choice to libbies who otherwise might vote for Mr. Weiland.

  6. larry kurtz 2014.10.13

    yer doddering and delusional, grud.

  7. john tsitrian 2014.10.13

    Pressler's close association with Ross Mandell and Sky Capital a few years ago pretty much eliminates him from consideration by me. I believe that Pressler's naivete and poor judgement about the implications of that relationship call his critical thinking ability into question.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.13

    The Harper poll of 13 months ago is interesting for me since it shows the sharp drop and almost daily decline of Rounds percentages.
    Rounds is feeling the Pressler effect, DWC has been campaigning harder against Pressler than they are against Weiland. Wadhams must be feeling the pressure.
    So, if the choice is between Rounds, the corrupt one, or Pressler the ever changing his positions?

  9. Lynn 2014.10.13


    I read your blog and Pressler's association and vouching for Ross Mandell and Sky Capital is very disturbing. I feel Larry is a nice guy and would be far better than Rounds but I question his judgment. My vote will be for Weiland but there seems to be an increasing number of voters with the attitude of anyone but Rounds.

  10. Mikey B 2014.10.13

    Polls don't mean anything. Votes do.

    What do we really have to look forward to no matter which one of these middle-aged men win: more of the same in Washington.

  11. BOHICA 2014.10.13

    Enough for this family...'The Buck Stops Here' - Truman...."Stupid is as Stupid Does" - Forest Gump.

    Too many denials, mismanagement questions, and perhaps lies drive this family... an I and an go D in this race. Maybe the first time we have agreed in 30+ years of marriage....moving on.

  12. jerry 2014.10.13

    Here is what to expect if anyone other than Rick Weiland is elected to the senate. Here is where we are now, do we really want to go any further? Can we survive more corrupt representation than we already have with NOem and Thune?

    You be the judge, vote November 4 or sooner.

  13. lesliengland 2014.10.13

    @edshow on MSNBC tonight Weiland interviewed with muddy mo' backdrop re: EB5. ROUNDS COVER-UP chills investigation creating cautious reporting, suicide, lack of information, state investigation inconclusive, fed investigation close-lipped until election? no mention Regents, missing files, aberdeen soured, hopeful about closed plant, locals head scratching.

  14. jerry 2014.10.13

    Thanks Jana, we must never let the republicans ever get to drive the car, the ditch is much to steep and you know they will take it over the cliff

  15. Jana 2014.10.14

    Oh great...the GOP has once again made us the butt of a joke on the Stephen Colbert show.

  16. Bill Fleming 2014.10.14

    Curious to me is why the minimum wage issue hasn't become a key debate topic in every SD race. Maybe it's so obvious, Dem candidates think it goes without saying. No it doesn't.

  17. JeniW 2014.10.14

    Bill, could it be that because the minimum wage issue is already on the ballot?

  18. Bill Fleming 2014.10.14

    JeniW, that's exactly why I think the candidates should be talking about it. From all I'm hearing, it's pretty popular, and Dems may want to differentiate themselves by clearly being in support of it. Do we know where the Repubs in all the races stand on the minimum wage issue? My guess is that many, if not most, don't support it. Shouldn't we be wanting to find out?

  19. Ellee Spawn 2014.10.14

    Bill, I know that most Democratic candidates on the state level are pushing hard with the point of raising the minimum wage in South Dakota, myself included. It's RARE that I don't mention it when I'm campaigning door to door in my district. About the only time that I don't mention it is when the voter I'm speaking to has something else that they bring up that they wish to discuss.

  20. Bill Fleming 2014.10.14

    Ellee, great! Is your opponent against it? If so, you're sure to mention that, right?

  21. Steve Sibson 2014.10.14

    "Howie gets 5% of the conservative vote and 5% of the liberal vote."

    So some of the liberals must now understand that big government is being used by the crony capitalists and the only solution is smaller government. And some conservatives understand that a vote for Howie is a vote for conservatism and not a vote for Harry Reid.

    So 10% of the potential voters don't believe the lies perpetuated by both party establishments.

  22. Nick Nemec 2014.10.14

    Redo your math Sibby.


  23. grudznick 2014.10.14

    Good catch, Mr. Nemec. Usually Mr. Sibby does not do French math because of his accounting credentials. We are of course assuming that 100% of the conservative vote plus 100% of the libbie vote = 100% of the vote.

    Then it's 5% indeed.

  24. JeniW 2014.10.14

    Bill, Susan Wismer is advocating for wage minimum wage increase.

    Check out her web-site. She is also posting her stance on topics via Face Book.

Comments are closed.