NBP survey: Rounds far ahead for U.S. Senate

Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds would be far ahead of either Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem or Democratic candidate Rick Weiland in a U.S. Senate race right now, according to the latest survey results from Nielson Brothers Polling.  In a Rounds-Weiland contest, the people surveyed preferred Rounds over Weiland 54 percent to 27 percent. In a Rounds-Noem contest for the Republican Senate nomination, the Republicans surveyed preferred Rounds 56 percent to 29 percent.

The June 10-14 survey was conducted among 492 likely voters regarding Rounds-Weiland, with a possible margin of error of about 4.4 percent, and among 296 Republicans for the Rounds-Noem primary, with a possible margin of error of about 6.3 percent. Noem has announced she will run for re-election to the U.S. House in 2014. Rounds and Weiland are the only announced candidates so far for the U.S. Senate seat. The Democratic incumbent, Tim Johnson, has announced he won’t seek re-election to the Senate in 2014.

Weiland has run twice previously for the U.S. House, losing to Republican John Thune in 1996 and failing to win the Democratic nomination in the 2002 primary. The NBP poll found Weiland’s current name identification at 50 percent, while Rounds was at 92 percent. Among people who recognized Weiland’s name, 22 percent had a favorable opinion and 17 percent had an unfavorable opinion. For Rounds, who was twice elected governor in 2002 and 2006, the favorable rating was 52 percent and unfavorable 29 percent.

Asked about the direction of South Dakota, 49 percent said right and 23 percent said wrong.

For what it’s worth, Mike Rounds beat Democrat Jim Abbott in the 2002 general election for governor 56.8 percent to 41.9 percent. Rounds won re-election as governor in 2006 against Democrat Jack Billion, 61.7 percent to 36.1 percent.

If the old rule of thumb applied regarding the Rounds-Weiland contest for Senate, with the lesser-known challenging getting two-thirds of the 19 percent undecided vote, the election would come out roughly like this: Rounds 60 percent and Weiland 39 percent. That is similar to the Rounds-Billion outcome.

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About Bob Mercer

Bob Mercer is a newspaper reporter in Pierre where I cover state government, issues and politics for the Aberdeen American News and four other separately owned newspapers: the Black Hills Pioneer, the Pierre Capital Journal, the Mitchell Daily Republic and the Watertown Public Opinion. I began covering the Legislature in 1985 and have lived in Pierre since December 1986. I grew up in Wisconsin, worked my way through college, took my first full-time newspapers jobs in Wyoming, and have lived in South Dakota since the summer of 1984 when I moved to Aberdeen to join the American News. I worked for the Rapid City Journal as its state government reporter in Pierre from late 1992 through late 1998. I spent four years as press secretary and a senior aide to Gov. Bill Janklow during his fourth and final term from late 1998 through 2002. I returned to journalism in January 2003 as a self-employed reporter, providing state government coverage to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre and, depending on the year, Aberdeen newspapers. In 2008, the Aberdeen American News offered to hire me as full-time member of the AAN staff, with my reports continuing to be available to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish and Pierre papers. The new arrangement has been in effect since January 2009 as the five papers continue their remarkable dedication to their readers and the general public, as the only South Dakota news outlets with a full-time reporter covering state government in Pierre throughout the year. In addition to focusing on the Legislature during the annual winter session and its various activities during the interim periods between sessions, I spend many days throughout the year -- traveling as often necessary -- to cover state government boards and commissions which oversee the state universities, technical institutes, outdoors, water, environment, business, public schools, banking, agriculture, utilities, health care and various other areas of public interest. I purposely don't register to vote because of my profession; the last time I recall voting in a presidential election was the first time, 1976, when I had just turned 18. I think I voted for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. Make of that what you want, just don't make much of it.

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