KELO misreads its own poll on the effect of Northern Beef Packers and EB-5 on the U.S. Senate race. "EB-5 Has Little Effect on Voters," says the headline, introducing Ben Dunsmoor's dismissal of the potency of the issue. But we can easily read the actual responses to say the opposite, that the Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal EB-5 has had a significant effect on how South Dakotans will vote.
|"How much of an effect have the issues raised about the funding that the Northern Beef Packers Plant in Aberdeen received through the EB-5 immigration program had on your voting decision on the South Dakota Senate race? Have they had a major effect, some effect or no effect at all?"|
|Major||Minor||No Effect||Not Familiar|
First, consider the question. KELO (via Mason-Dixon) asks voters whether NBP/EB-5 is affecting their voting decision. That question doesn't just measure the impact of the issue; it also measures the dedication of voters to their candidates. NBP went bankrupt and EB-5 went scandal after Rounds and Weiland started campaigning. Many voters committed to those candidates before NBP/EB-5 could have an effect on their decision. Democrats and Republicans have partisans who will stick by their party no matter what. I've written more about Northern Beef Packers and EB-5 than most reporters, but my honest response to this survey question would have been "No Effect." Even in the alternative universe where Joop Bollen didn't run NBP into the ground and Richard Benda retired quietly to a beach in the Philippines, I'd still be voting for Weiland.
Second, consider the numbers. A majority say NBP/EB-5 has some effect on their vote. In every subgroup except for Rounds voters and Republicans, more people say the issue is has some effect than say it has no effect. NBP/EB-5 matters to 75% of Weiland voters and Pressler voters. Nobody should expect one issue to resonate with every voter, but having a "major" effect on one in five voters, the vast majority of whom swing away from the favored Republican frontrunner in South Dakota, tells me that NBP and EB-5 are worth every bit of attention the Weiland and Pressler and Howie campaigns are willing to give it.
I would argue that Rounds's challengers themselves have not hit Northern Beef Packers and EB-5 as hard as they could. It's already swaying a sizable chunk of the electorate, against all the advantages Republicans have, to Weiland and Pressler. There is still time to pull some of 31% "minors" over to the 21% "majors" and use the endemic corruption exposed in the NBP/EB-5 scandal to pull Rounds's 9% lead back to the side of good, honest government.