But on the issues, Weiland dominates Rounds:Public Policy Polling’s newest South Dakota survey continues to find Mike Rounds stuck under 40%. Right now 38% of voters say they intend to vote for him to 28% for Rick Weiland, 15% for Larry Pressler, and 4% for Gordon Howie. There are several encouraging findings for Weiland within the poll results:
-Most of Rounds’ early lead is based on having higher name recognition than Weiland, and Weiland actually has the advantage among voters who have heard of him. 82% of voters are familiar with Rounds compared to 67% for Weiland, but among the group that has heard of Weiland he leads 38/36. That bodes well for his prospects as he becomes better known.
-Weiland (+6) has a higher net favorability rating than Rounds (even). 36% of voters see him favorably to only 30% who have a negative opinion of him. Meanwhile voters are evenly divided on Rounds with 41% rating him positively and 41% with an unfavorable view. - PPP, 5/7/14
Independent voters are going to be key here for Weiland, 53/26 on the Medicare issue and 62/20 on the Ryan budget one. And to think the conservative Washington Free Bacon mocked Weiland because he said he wasn't too liberal for South Dakota:-On several issues that will be key in this race, voters side with Weiland’s view over Rounds’ by a wide margin. After being read a description of each candidate’s views on Medicare, South Dakotans say they agree more with Weiland’s position by a 15 point margin, 45/30. And when it comes to the Ryan budget 53% of voters say they side more with Weiland’s point of view, compared to only 29% who go with Rounds. - PPP, 5/7/14
Turns out Weiland's views are more in line with South Dakota voters. Now Weiland has taken some risky stances but this one could pay off:
Native American voters have helped people like Senators Tim Johnson (D. SD) and Heidi Heitkamp (D. ND) win in red states and their support will be crucial for Weiland. And Weiland came out in support of this today:Phase IV of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project would, if approved and constructed, cut across the state of South Dakota from its northwest corner through hundreds of miles of ranch land to the Nebraska border. If all the promises of jobs for workers and protection for the environment that have been made by Keystone proponents were well grounded, there’s good reason to believe that Rick Weiland might be on the forefront of efforts to get the project up and running.
Weiland’s a rural-state Democrat seeking to hold a Senate seat that has been in Democratic hands since 1997. It’s a hard race, where the pressure is on to appeal across lines of partisanship and ideology in a state that has not backed a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Political pundits would, no doubt, make excuses for Weiland if he finessed the Keystone debate with a politically convenient bow to Nebraska legal deliberations and ongoing assessments of the potential impact by federal agencies—as the US State Department did with its just-announced delay of a decision on whether to approve the $5.4 billion initiative.
But Weiland, a former congressional aide and regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has a long record of balancing economic and environmental concerns. And he is not prepared to avoid the issue.
The Democratic contender declares flatly, “I’m opposed to it.”
Like the members of the Cowboy Indian Alliance of ranchers, farmers and tribal communities from along the pipeline route, which this week is rallying in Washington to urge the administration to reject the Keystone XL proposal and protect the environment, Weiland has sorted the issue out in practical terms. - The Nation, 4/22/14
Now, as for Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie's roles in this race, David Nir puts some things in perspective:Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland says college students graduating with student loans carrying higher interest rates should get some relief.
Weiland said Wednesday that he's supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren's emergency loan refinancing act, which will allow people to refinance loans with rates of 5 percent and 6 percent down to 3.86 percent.
The lone Democrat in the crowded race for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tim Johnson says that loans are used to pay for technical schools, not just colleges and universities. He says three-quarters of South Dakota graduates leave school with some debt. - Argus Leader, 5/7/14
It six months away and who knows what can happen. Weiland has made every stop in South Dakota and has done an excellent job distinguishing himself as the candidate who wants to get money out of politics while Rounds is the Super PAC candidate. It might be a long uphill battle but Weiland's not giving up and we shouldn't give up on him either. If you want to get involved and donate to Weiland's campaign, you can do so here:But Pressler and Howie couldn't be more different. Pressler, who's been out of office almost two decades, twice endorse Barack Obama and even served on a presidential commission. Howie, meanwhile, is a conservative true believer who is disgusted at the prospect of Rounds winning the GOP primary and wants to give fellow travelers an alternative in the general election. So while it's safe to say Howie is probably pulling from the right, it's a lot harder to determine whom Pressler is hurting more, especially because we don't have crosstabs.
What's more, 15 percent is a very high share for a third-party candidate, and it'll be hard for Pressler to sustain that, especially since he's not raising real money. But regardless of what happens with Pressler, something will need to change for Weiland, because even a weak plurality win for Rounds is still a win.