The good news for U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is that she hasn't lost ground in voter approval since early December.

The bad news is she hasn't gained ground, either.

The Democrat leads her three main Republican opponents in voter preference in a survey of 500 likely voters in South Dakota by Rasmussen Reports. But she only leads Secretary of State Chris Nelson by 7 percentage points (45 to 38 percent) in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up. Six percent preferred another candidate and 11 percent were undecided.

That's almost identical to the survey results of a Public Policy Polling survey in early December, in which Herseth Sandlin got 46 percent to 39 percent for Nelson.

The Rasmussen report shows Herseth Sandlin leading in a match-up against state Rep. Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls, by a wider margin: 51 to 33 percent. In the December poll, Herseth Sandlin led Curd by 52 percent to 31 percent.

Rasmussen added a match-up between Herseth Sandlin and state Rep. Kristi Noem, R-Castlewood, who entered the House race last week. Herseth Sandlin received 49 percent to 34 percent for Noem, who was not included in the December poll.

Noem's campaign issued a news releases touting her showing in the survey, which was taken a week after she announced her entry into the race.

"We haven't even had the time to introduce ourselves around the state and already 34 percent of South Dakotans have indicated that they trust us more than their current representative in Washington," Noem said in the release.

Bob Burns, a retired political science professor at South Dakota State University, said it was noteworthy that Noem managed 34 percent so soon in her campaign.

"I'm kind of surprised that she did enjoy that large of a percentage of support. She comes out of a rural (legislative) district and hasn't attracted a lot of the state attention," he said. "But she has many of the same personal qualities that Rep. Herseth Sandlin has: She's a very attractive young woman, quite articulate and has a lot of passion."

The Noem release also said the key point of the survey is that Herseth Sandlin was only at 49 percent, a troublesome level for an incumbent at this point in the election cycle. Burns agreed that Herseth Sandlin's polling numbers are weak for an incumbent.

"The one worrisome thing for the Herseth Sandlin camp is that she's over 50 percent in only one of those match-ups," Burns said. "Typically, an incumbent who has won her last two re-election campaigns by well over 60 percent would be in better shape at this point."

But with so much turmoil in the political system, this isn't an ordinary year for an incumbent, Burns said. Herseth Sandlin won re-election in 2006 with 69 percent and in 2008 with almost 68 percent.

This year is likely to be much closer, Burns said.

"In an ordinary year, she might hope for 60-40," he said. "With all the turmoil, she's probably going to have a much closer race than that, and maybe end up closer to something like 52-48."

Burns said Herseth Sandlin's depressed numbers reflect the tumultuous times for congressional incumbents but also specific unhappiness with the incumbent from segments of the South Dakota Democratic Party.

"That may well be the results of some fallout in her own party right now," he said. "That may be where those points are lacking. I suspect that, come November, most of those votes will come her way."

Nelson said there is a better chance than ever that a Republican candidate will win and took heart that he is only 7 percentage points behind the incumbent.

"It shows that South Dakotans are thinking consistently with what the polls showed in December, that the incumbent's popularity is dropping and voters see me as a solid alternative," Nelson said. "It's nothing that I wouldn't have expected."

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or


(16) comments


Better yet Nancy (always in campaing mode) Pelosi said yesterday in the healthcarescam summit that if they pass the progressive healthcare scam bill that it would create 400,000 new jobs almost right off the bat. I'll give everyone one guess what type of jobs those will be....government jobs. That will really help to cut down the deficit. These losers are going down big time whether the healthcare scam passes or not. Goodby progressives trying to push your ways on others. Maybe next century.


Great News!!! I was afraid the business as usual in Congress might come to an end with incumbents being defeated. Why shouldn't she be re-elected? The country is running just fine! She doesn't have to actually live here to know how South Dakotans think. She doesn't need town hall meetings to vote the way Nancy tells her to.


I look forward to Herseth-Sandlin's crushing defeat. How dare she spend our money with reckless abandon and blatantly ignore her constituent’s demands. She tried to play both sides of the fence, appealing to both liberals and conservatives. In the process she painted herself as a typical Washington Democrat more interested in self preservation than doing the right thing. We are a conservative state and expect conservative representation. I look forward to good common sense and local values representing us once again.


I have to agree with Glock10mm, even if I prefer my kimber 45 auto.
Princess Stephanie should not have voted the party line on the stimulus package.

It spent an average of $386.000 for each job it created, lets not forget that most were jobs that will end when the money runs out.

The cost of borrowing the money for the stimulus bill will be more then we can pay back.

We need someone that will vote against raising the debt ceiling and spending money that we don't have.


She'll crush the competition once again. The wishful thinking approach to commentingin this forum is laughable. This state has invested way too much time and money in support of cowpokes and small-towners. We need a professional and in Stephanie, we have one. StephRocks!!!


Spin it any way you want. Bottom line is that she is a DEMOCRAT representing and running for reelection in a REPUBLICAN state. Interesting that repubs are touting a repub taking a dem state . . . but this repub state has had two of its three congressperson positions held by democrats for years! Spin that . . .


i won't be voting for a "blue dog" this time around...


Re: Obamamama, no different than the neo-cons getting their news from Fox, at least SNL makes you laugh--Fox scares people once you realize they're actually serious about their views. Re: Glock10mm, see you're still illegally using the USAF SFS badge, what don't you get? Until you stop, you have no credibility, wish RCJ would prohibit printing your views until you remove it.


Herseth-Sandlin showed her real colors as an Obama democrat in 2009. She abandoned nearly all theory that she was a fiscally responsible conservative democrat. In essence, she abandoned all voters (like me) who crossed party lines to support her. She will most definitely lose hands down after the campaign winds up and a quality republican challenger is selected. And by quality republican challenger, I mean ANY republican challenger.


Way to spin that Herseth/Sandlin is in the lead. Put her numbers up against the split of 3 Republican candidates! Wow-we will see how that works out in November-when Herseth is opposing 1 instead of the 3 in a poll. My bet is that the carpetbagger will be packing her bags to Texas. Let them educate her on what a Conservative Blue Dog is? Ask her how much did she spend on saving sea otters, turtles and wild horses in November of last year. This was when the nation was already aware of the budget deficits and job losses-yet she still voted with the progressive liberals. Now she is trying to put on the Blue Dog suit to get re-elected this November. We are wise of her porkus spending. Save a turtle, sea otter, or a wild horse but abort a baby is Herseth/Sandlin's policy!


While SHS will have a little more challenging race than the last two, the she'll win, hands down. Nelson is her only credible opposition as he actually ran government offices efficiently and effectively. Me too's Curd


I believe anyone that votes should be an infomed voter. But we have a lot of people on the left that watch Saturday Night Live for their news. Pitiful.


was this poll taken in Texas? That is where Sadline lives Right?? So much for a SD rep!!

Results like this can only be bad news for Herseth-Sandlin ... she only broke fifty percent (a whopping 51%) against one out the three. The campaign hasn't even begun yet.

Let's be realistic, except for political junkies like us bloggers here, most people have never even heard of the three Republicans, or know virtually nothing about them. And Steph couldn't even pull a meaningful majority? If the Republican Party can pick a quality candidate and not implode, they have a very good shot here.

Sicangu Warrior
Sicangu Warrior

A blue dog will always be faster at the get go than an elephant. It's just physics.


Good Spin Kevin. But for her to be that low in vote percentages this soon in the race just shows she has a fight on her hands. But I'm sure the progressives will try to destroy anyone that starts to move ahead of her. It is the progressive way. If you can't beat them, destroy them.

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