Give South Dakota Republicans credit. They seem to be doing much better among the state’s youngest voters than Democrats are. That’s shown month after month in the voter registration numbers, with independents and Republicans increasing at a much, much faster rate than Democrats. Where it’s showing up as well this fall is the public opinion surveys on the major statewide election races.
Consider these results from the Survey South Dakota results released in the past week by the Aberdeen American News, KOTA TV in Rapid City and KSFY TV in Sioux Falls:
For governor, Republican incumbent Dennis Daugaard led Democratic challenger Susan Wismer 59 percent to 30 percent, with independent Michael Myers at 7 percent and just 5 percent remaining undecided. Inside those numbers are patterns by age group. Daugaard had support from 68 percent — that’s not a misprint — of the 18 to 34 year olds in the polling sample while Wismer had 18 percent. In the 35-49 group, the results were Daugaard 56 percent Wismer 29 percent. Among those 50 to 64 years old, Daugaard led Wismer 55 percent to 34. And the 65-plus group broke 59 percent for Daugaard and 34 percent for Wismer. Daugaard is 61 years old. Wismer is 58.
For U.S. Senate the Republican candidate, former Gov. Mike Rounds, led in three of the four age groups. This is a four-candidate contest. Independent Larry Pressler, who held the U.S. Senate seat from 1979 through 1996 when he lost to Democrat Tim Johnson, was second in two of the age groups in the poll and led among the 50-to-64 year olds. Democratic candidate Rick Weiland didn’t lead in any groups. However, they were closely bunched, so perhaps too much shouldn’t be made of each candidate’s share. But again, the overall pattern wasn’t promising for Democrats.
Among 18-to-34s, the results were Rounds 39 percent, Pressler 28 percent, Weiland 25 percent, independent Gordon Howie (a former Republican legislator) 6 percent and undecided 1 percent. (Who says younger voters can’t make up their minds?)
Among 35-to-49s, Rounds had 37 percent, Weiland 29 percent, Pressler 27 percent, Howie 5 percent and undecided 2 percent.
Among 50-to-64s, Pressler led with 37 percent, followed by Weiland at 30 percent and Rounds at 29 percent, with Howie at 2 percent and undecided 2 percent.
Among the 65-plus group, Rounds had 37 percent, Pressler 32 percent, Weiland 27 percent, Howie 1 percent and undecided 2 percent.
The U.S. House contest again has the Republican incumbent, Kristi Noem, strongest among the youngest voters and Democratic challenger Corinna Robinson weakest there. Overall Noem led 55 percent to 37 percent for Robinson.
Among the 18-to-34s, Noem led 59-28. Among 35-to-49s, Noem led 56-35. Among 50-to-64s, Noem led 51-44. And among 65-plus voters, Noem led 57-38.