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Every State. Every race. Right here.

This is number 29 in a planned series of 50 entries between now and November, looking at each of the 50 states in terms of every race on that state's ticket--Presidential, Gubernatorial, Senate, House, State legislatures--the whole badlands range! Special attention paid to identifying and promoting the most important contests per state.

A relatively brief entry this time, as we look at SOUTH DAKOTA.

A traditionally Red state at the Presidential and state level, but having elected more Democrats than Republicans to Congress. Just like North Dakota. In recent years, South Dakota has been moving away from the GOP but still has a way to go before it can be called a true swing state.

BLOGS:  Badlands Blue does a great job of focusing on this corner of America.

PRESIDENT: :  Leans GOP.  I would have thought South Dakota would be the first of the Big Sky states to break tradition and come over to the Democrats in a national election, but so far both Montana and North Dakota have been closer, and even had some polls showing Obama leading. The best South Dakota has done so far has been a couple showing Obama losing by less than any Democrat has done in two decades.  It still seems worthwhile to me for Obama to make a major effort in these three in-reach-but-not-in-grasp contiguous few EV states. Together they add up to nine, which is nothing to sneeze at.  And Obama’s performance has been downright astonishing for such a traditionally red region.  Give him these states and Alaska, and we’ll be talking about a sea change in the empty quarter.

SENATE:  Tim Johnson (Inc. D). Democrats had a scare shortly after the 2006 elections when Johnson had a stroke, and for a long time, this seat was the second most endangered Democratically-held seat in the Senate. The disgusting Republicans would not stop licking their chops in public, and Dick Cheney was seen heading for Johnson’s hospital bed with a pillow.  No worries. Johnson’s a real fighter, and he’s doing for his health what he’s doing for the USA as Senator.  He’s also topped some recent lists of the most popular US Senator of them all.  Barring an unforeseen act of God, he’s headed for a third term easily.

GOVERNORS AND OTHER STATEWIDE:  None up in 2008. Every state office in South Dakota is currently held by a Republican. We need to be building our bench here.


State House of Representatives:  20D, 49R, one vacant. Need to flip 16 seats out of 70 to take control. That won’t happen in one cycle.
State Senate: 15D, 20R. Three flips to gain control. Not vital to do quickly, as South Dakota has one Congressional District and therefore redistricting will not be vital in 2010.

The wikipedia page has a pretty, colorful map showing how the rural population is pretty evenly spread out across the state, with the few tiny districts concentrated in the population centers of Sioux Falls and Rapid City.


District 1—Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (Inc. Dem). –-SWOON—One of Kos’s very first success stories. We loved her soooooooo much!  There must be something in the wholesome farm belt food that produces such amazing physical specimens as Herseth-Sandlin and Scott Kleeb.  Then again, we have Anne Barth in Appalachia and Darcy Burner in Seattle. Maybe it’s just that Democrats are awesome!

Hmmm.....Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin in a tight-fitting ninja suit.....Oh, right. (ahem). Safe Democrat. But go treat your eyes to her website anyhow:

REDISTRICTING: One at large seat. No redistricting to be done.

Previous diaries in this series:




Texas, Part One:

Texas, Part Two:



North Carolina:






North Dakota:


California, Part one:

California, Part two:






New Mexico:



Friggin’ IDAHO:



New Jersey:


Originally posted to AdmiralNaismith on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:13 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips, Recs, and Mount Rushmore tourist shots (12+ / 0-)

    "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

    by AdmiralNaismith on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:14:05 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for this, but one note (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Stephanie happens to be pregnant with her first.  She might not appreciate a tight fit.

      South Dakota is a strange state - it's bluer on the reservations and over in Rapid City.  Mid-state is pretty red.  Sioux Falls has a few blue here, and few blue there.  Aberdeen and Brookings are reddish with little bits of blue.

      Main thread running through the state is to "leave me alone, I don't want big gummint meddlin' with me or mine".

  •  I don't know who gets the nod for best looking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, TDreamer

    Kleeb or Herseth Sandlin as a hetero guy, my biases are clear.

    Two good looking people!  And, more important, two good people!

  •  While trying to sip from the firehose that is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, Mark27, MKSinSA

    dkos, I have missed this series.  Enjoying catching up.  Great series of diaries.

  •  South Dakota is basically two states ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, sardonyx, njr

    West River and East River.

    West River (west of the Missouri) is much more apt to go blue IMHO; that is where the Black Hills, Badlands, Deadwood and the majority of the reservations are.  During the primaries, Obama performed better in West River.

    East River (east of the Missouri) is farm country.  Lots and lots of Lutherans; other than possibly Vermillion (USD) and Sioux Falls (largest city with large growth potential from banking and other industries), not EVER likely to go blue, again this is IMHO.  Other than Vermillion and Sioux Falls, the eastern part of the state is much older overall as well.

    I don't live there but my Dad did until he passed away a few months ago and I have a sister who lives there as well.  These are my observations from talking to them and from visiting the state.

    •  West is More Apt to Go Blue?!?!?!?!? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That directly contradicts decades of election returns coming from South Dakota.  Tim Johnson won twice by sweeping East River as he got killed West River.  Daschle handily won in 2004 based on the East River returns.  Clinton won twice East River.  You're correct that the West River reservations are Democratic, but the non-reservation portions West River are at least 70% Republican....including all the population centers (Rapid City, Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Winner).  East River has grown more Republican as Sioux Falls has transitioned from a meatpacking town to the world capital of predatory lending, but most of the counties East River are in play in even a marginal Democratic year, and usually go blue in any contested race in SD

      •  I believe that Obama beat Hillary in Brookings (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        County which is in the east and a college town...although school was out. Also I believe SD has alot of older voters. I think it falls into the category of people voting against their economic best interests, because of social wedge issues.

        Enough with the speeches and the big rallies!!

        by JNSD on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:35:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, There's a Cowboy Mindset.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...that traditional South Dakotans ascribe to, and connected to both Reagan and Bush-43 because of it.  Put on top of that the surge in Republican-centric industries such as tourism and predatory lending and you have a recipe for a state will continue tilting right.  I'm kind of surprised that abortion has taken on the level of prominence it has in South Dakota...because it's not one of the most culturally conservative states.  I think their Republican legislators are more culturally conservative than the voters, as suggested by the double-digit defeat of the abortion ban pushed through the Legislature.

          It's a tough state to win and getting tougher, but I don't put either of the Dakotas in the same level of hopelessness as any of the Plains States to its south.

          •  I was hugely surprised that it was defeated. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AdmiralNaismith, Mark27

            I think if the truth about Obama's tax plan could get pushed here and his no income tax for seniors making $50,000 or less that would be very helpful. Not many folks making $250,000 a year here, even in two income college educated families. All these people hear is Obama will raise your taxes and they just lick it up, instead of investigating and finding out, "No Obama will raise John McCain's taxes."

            Enough with the speeches and the big rallies!!

            by JNSD on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:47:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Actually if IIRC, Clinton won Brookings County; (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I think Clay County (Vermillion) was one of only a very few that went for Obama in the East River area.

      •  The main reason I feel that way (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is that West River is younger and parts of it are much more like Montana (where Obama has done well).  East River is older and more like Nebraska.  Again, I was just sharing this based on observations.  It is only my opinion.

        •  I don't get where you're coming from (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AdmiralNaismith, JNSD

          I'm sitting and typing at my Desk in Brookings SD.

          West River Blue?  Don't forget about that big Air Force Base out in the hills.  Also, ranchers tend to be much more Red than farmers.

          Hillary was popular with the Dems I know around Brookings.  I kept seeing on the internets that Obama was the favorite in SD.  As we saw, this was a far from the truth.

          Liberals and conservatives are two gangs who have intimidated rational, normal thinking beings into not having a voice on television or in the culture.

          by Dave B on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:03:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Like I said, it's just my opinion. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            You don't have to agree with me and I gave some of my reasons above.  Again, it was just my opinion.

          •  My theory is that we like to be irrelivent. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Primary day Obama only needed like 11 delegates to pass the majic number and so SD votes for Hillary who has no the national media was focused on us and we could have pushed him passed the mark, but no. When I looked at the CNN map, there was SD a light blue(Hillary color) island of irrelivance floating in a dark blue ocean of HOPE and CHANGE.(all our neighbors voted for Obama). Hi from Volga!:)

            Enough with the speeches and the big rallies!!

            by JNSD on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:09:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That would explain a few things (0+ / 0-)

     why they would boot a national Democratic leader like Tom Daschle in order to send to DC a minority party freshman who is despised by his own party's leaders and cancels out the other SD Senator's vote.

              "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

              by AdmiralNaismith on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:07:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  lotsa lutherans are blue... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AdmiralNaismith, Mark27

      funny how family observations can differ. mine is from the MN/SD border region, lutheran, and they're Democrats.

      except for the two that moved away - phoenix corrupted them both.

      "This year, it's on like Donkey Kong." --dkos user PresentMoment

      by birdbrain64 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:38:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent Point.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AdmiralNaismith, birdbrain64

        I'm a Norwegian and from rural southern Minnesota.  From a purely demographic standpoint, my hometown and the surrounding Norwegian enclaves should be crimson red.  But it, along with most Norwegian towns in the Upper Midwest, have been solidly Democratic for generations now.

      •  The only Blue Lutheran in my family (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AdmiralNaismith, birdbrain64

        was my Dad.  The rest are Republican through and through.

        Another observation - how do you think McCain going to Sturgis set with some of those staid Lutheran farmers?  I can imagine my aunts and uncles being simply outraged by him going among the heathens.

      •  Scandinavia is BLUE territory! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I mean, isn't Sweden the poster boy for the best that liberal socialism has to offer? There's a strong tradition of generous, thoughtful, pro-labor liberalism in that culture.

        I've believed for a long time that the Scandinavian-American farm belt has been a potential blue stronghold, and the trends may be slowly coming around.  Considering that the farm belt gave us senators like Quentin Burdick, George McGovern, Tom Daschle, Tom Harken and Paul Wellstone, it may not have as far to go as the Republican State Legislatures might lead you to believe.

        "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

        by AdmiralNaismith on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:04:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and i think it *was* blue (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for a long time, turning red in more recent generations.

          after all, in minnesota, it's the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party for a reason. i think small farmers are much more Democratic, but they've been swallowed by industrial agriculture, which like other corporate entities, is blood red.

          "This year, it's on like Donkey Kong." --dkos user PresentMoment

          by birdbrain64 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:35:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  20 Years Ago Your Perception Would Have Been... (5+ / 0-)

    ...right.  South Dakota would have been the easiest Plains state to flip blue.  Dukakis came within striking distance....and Clinton came only a few thousand votes short.  But that was a much different South Dakota, made up of unionized meatpackers and populist grain farmers.  Nowadays, most of the populist farmers that got McGovern and Daschle elected have died off while the state's top industry has become predatory lending at Citibank.  Rather amazing how demographically similar Sioux Falls and Rochester, Minnesota, a few hours away have traded places politically in the last couple of decades, with Sioux Falls getting more white-collar and more Republican every year, as Rochester gets more Democratic every year.

    Meanwhile, there's long been an underlying populism in North Dakota similar to what used to exist in South Dakota, only it hasn't been squashed by corporate robber baron interests yet.  That's why North Dakota has three populist Dems in Congress, arguably all to the left of South Dakota's two remaining Democrats.  Heading into 2008, it does surprise me that Obama is doing as well as he is in North Dakota, but it doesn't surprise me that he's doing better there than South Dakota.

  •  Thanks for your hard work, Admiral (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  herseth-sandlin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    web page, linked above,  does not claim she is a democrat

    She claims to be South Dakota's Independent voice.

    Her voting record is not progressive..        more "pragmatic" perhaps

  •  I've Been to SD Once ..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..... or three times?

    I flew from Minneapolis to Denver with a stop in Sioux Falls.

    And Pierre.

    And Rapid City.

    And that was the last time I left the booking of a business flight to my supervisor!

  •  north of north carolina (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and west of west virginia

    they exist in a parallel universe.



    the state is mostly sky with some dirt sprinkled on it.  

    nobody actually lives there.

    except a girl i once knew.

    i wonder if she's still there

    tidying lutheranly the house of forgot me

    forgot me


    i don't want to talk about south dakota anymore


    "Don't push the river but don't pull no punches." Van Morrison

    by bob zimway on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:47:25 PM PDT

  •  Both Herseth-Sandlin and Johnson Are Bushdogs (0+ / 0-)

    They are both fearful and think they have to be loyal Bushdogs because they're running in South Dakota.

  •  And, the major problem in South Dakota is (0+ / 0-)

    There are more Norwegians than Swedes.

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