Is A Prairie Populist Building A Big November Surprise While The DSCC Wastes Its Time In Dixie?
If the Democrats lose the Senate majority in November it will be because Harry Reid and DSCC chair Michael Bennet decided to concede South Dakota without a fight. So far Establishment Republican Mike Rounds has spent $2,941,991 on the race to win the seat being abandoned by Democrat Tim Johnson, while populist Democrat Rick Weiland has only raised $1,094,098 in total and spent $650,325. The DSCC has put all its eggs in the baskets of much more conservative Democrats than Weiland-- and much more Republican-Leaning states than South Dakota, like Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky. Despite massive DSCC efforts, Grimes is falling further behind McConnell and Nunn isn't closing the deal in Georgia. Weiland, on the other hand-- and without a scintilla of assistance from the DSCC-- is slowly, slowly, slowly gaining ground on Rounds.
A few weeks ago, PPP found the gap between Weiland and Rounds had closed to 39-31%. In just two weeks, the gap narrowed further as Weiland continued one of the two most grassroots Senate campaigns in America (the other being Shenna Bellows' in Maine). Over the weekend, PPP reported that the gap is now just 6 points-- 39-33%:
Public Policy Polling’s newest South Dakota survey finds that Rick Weiland is continuing to cut into Mike Rounds’ once double digit lead in the race to replace Tim Johnson.Weiland is on the road every day visiting every location in the state where more than a dozen people gather-- while Rounds spends all his time with wealthy campaign donors. Rounds, always the high-handed elitist, has refused bates offered by KSFY, KSOO, Dakota Wesleyan University, the Rapid City Journal and the Native Sun News. Weiland: "Mike Rounds is going to take a 54 day vacation from these debates which is unfortunate and frankly, disrespectful of the voters. This shouldn’t be a coronation. No one is entitled to be a United States Senator. You need to earn it and I challenge Mike to reconsider his decision not debate over the course of the next 54 days."
Key findings from the survey include:
• Rounds’ lead now stands at just 6 points- he’s at 39% to 33% for Weiland, 17% for Larry Pressler, and 4% for Gordon Howie. Rounds’ lead has dropped from 10 points in April to 8 points in early August to now just 6 points in late August as Weiland has become better known and more popular.
• Weiland is considerably more well liked by voters than Rounds. 48% see him favorably to only 27% with an unfavorable opinion. That +21 net favorability rating for Weiland is up from +15 earlier in the month, and it’s 24 points better than Rounds’- only 44% of voters see him positively to 47% who have a negative opinion.
• There are several reasons to think the race could close further. Among voters who are familiar with Weiland, whether they have a positive or negative opinion of him, he leads Rounds 42/36. Rounds is ahead in large part thanks to greater name recognition, but as Weiland has become better known, Rounds’ lead has gotten smaller and smaller.
Additionally Pressler supporters say that if they had to pick, they’d choose Weiland over Rounds 48/29. Third party candidates tend to see their support fade as an election gets closer. If Pressler sees a decline in his support over the next two months, Weiland is likely to be the beneficiary-- he trails Rounds only 45/42 when you take Pressler out of the mix.
Rick Weiland has the momentum in this race. The more voters get to know him, the more they like him, and it’s making what was once a wide lead for Mike Rounds less and less comfortable.
And Weiland didn't stop there, he went on to compare and contrast what he and Rounds are offering South Dakota voters, noting that South Dakota is "not a state of the rich and powerful. We are everyday folks, playing by the rules, who expect a level playing field and a fair shake. Nothing more, nothing less."
• I’m for raising the minimum wage. 62,000 South Dakotans will have a chance at better life. Mike is opposed to it.It's a shame we can't depend on the Democratic Beltway Establishment to help elect Rick. It means real people with real values that go beyond careerism have to work a little harder. Can you help?
• I’m for a tax code that makes billionaires and corporations pay their fair share. Mike is not.
• I’m for protecting and expanding Medicare. Let’s open up Medicare for everyone and bring some honest competition to the market place. Mike is on the side of the big health insurance companies.
• I’m for keeping Big Money from buying our politicians and running our government. The first bill I will introduce as your next United States Senator will be a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon. Corporations aren’t people and money isn't free speech. Mike opposes campaign finance reform.