Huh? There's something funny about our names?
As usual, you have to go local for real detail on South Dakota politics. Kevin Woster gets hold of internal polling numbers, apparently from the Dennis Daugaard campaign, that show Lt. Gov. Daugaard mostly ahead among likely GOP voters. Senator Dave Knudson does come out with higher name recognition, but Daugaard has the highest favorable ratings. Daugaard also wins the lion's share of voters willing to commit to a candidate at this point.
Perhaps most encouraging for the Daugaard campaign should be this result:
Almost 70 percent of those surveyed said South Dakota is headed in the right direction; 83 percent gave the governor a favorable rating; and 81 percent said they think the next governor should continue Rounds’ policies [Kevin Woster, "They Seem to Like Rounds, and the Road We're On," Mount Blogmore, 2009.10.21].
That seems pretty remarkable, given seven years of mostly visionless governance. The Rounds Administration has stood for little besides expansion of state government and the continuing decimation of rural communities. But 81% of South Dakotans (or at least Republican South Dakotans) want more of the same. Numbers like that tell me running on the platform of "Four more years!" isn't such a bad idea, at least through the primary season.
The Daugaard campaign shouldn't get too complacent: his boss has a $200 million budget shortfall to contend with. There will be more program cuts. There will be more fee and tax increases. A 2010 legislative session filled with hard fiscal choices just might incline South Dakota voters to ask what would be so great about four more years of the Rounds-Daugaard administration.