National Review‘s John J. Miller puts South Dakota as a likely Democratic retention in the Senate race this year.
I don’t see it the same way.
First, Miller uses the Zogby poll as evidence that Daschle is well ahead of Thune. The problem with Zogby is that every poll they’ve done in South Dakota has been off by a wide margin. Zogby had Herseth handily trouncing Diedrich, and the actual margin was far closer than that. Zogby’s South Dakota polls are next to worthless in handling this race.
Furthermore, the Herseth win actually strengthens Thune’s hand. As UVA elections guru Larry Sabado notes, South Dakotans may decide that an all-Democratic Congressional contingent from a conservative state is not to their liking. Herseth ran as a "independent" and run well to the center. Herseth doesn’t have a record of judicial obstructionism, rampant liberalism, and other votes providing ammunition for the GOP. Thune is also a far better and more seasoned candidate than Larry Diedrich was, has better name recognition, and is using outside campaign managers rather than relying on the inefficient and ineffective South Dakota GOP organization.
South Dakota remains a strong chance for the GOP to pick up a Senate seat.