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Dem Pollster: S.D. Senate Race Growing Competitive

Dem Pollster: S.D. Senate Race Growing Competitive

By Adam O'Neal - October 3, 2014

While Kansas has become the best-known unlikely battleground in the battle for control of the Senate, one Democratic polling firm is arguing that another solid red state might give Republicans trouble in the midterms. 

“South Dakota has the potential to join Kansas as a previously under-the-radar Senate race that could confound Republican efforts to get control of the Senate,” said Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen. “This race is just as competitive as the ones in places like New Hampshire and Michigan that have drawn far more attention.”

Supporting Jensen’s assertion: A new PPP survey that shows Republican Mike Rounds with a mere seven-point lead over the Democratic candidate, Rick Weiland. The survey shows Rounds earning 35 percent of the vote to Weiland’s 28 percent. Independent Larry Pressler, a former Republican who held the seat for three terms from 1979 to 1997, takes 24 percent.  

Rounds also has a net negative favorability rating. Just 41 percent of South Dakotans view him positively, and 51 percent feel otherwise. Weiland, however, is viewed favorably by 42 percent of state voters -- and unfavorably by 38 percent. 

Jensen’s view isn’t widely shared, at least not yet. The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Rounds with a 12.6 percentage point lead over Weiland, and rates the race “likely GOP.”

The survey of 703 likely voters in South Dakota, conducted Sept. 29-30 on behalf of People for Weiland, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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