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Monday, August 2, 2010

Madison Straw Poll Analysis: Dems Not So Mad, Bjorklund Gets Boost

Here's some more data from Friday's Madison Crazy Days Straw Poll, conducted by yours truly and the Lake County Dems.

Disclaimer: I recognize that the small sample size, self-selected sample, and big Dems sign right under the ballot jar render the margin of error for these numbers wider than the swollen Vermillion River. I proceed in the spirit of fun and mathematical distraction. You want more reliable numbers? Conduct your own poll!
First, let's look at support for each candidate we polled by party affiliation. Madison is a hotbed of Weiland Wildcats, whom we would expect to express some dissatisfaction with Stephanie Herseth Sandlin over her Blue-Doggery. But that Democratic dissatisfaction didn't turn into defection in this poll. 95% of the Dems marking a preference in the House race marked SHS. One Dem marked Marking. And all of the Dems who stopped by our table said No to Noem.

Unfortunately for the GOP's Noem, so did 38% of the Republicans.

Matching Herseth Sandlin's in-party strength is freshman legislator and Democrat Mitch Fargen, who got the nod from 96% of Dems, even better than veteran legislator Gerry Lange's 78% in-party support. Even more remarkable is Fargen's GOP support. 78% of the Republicans who visited our Crazy Days table are willing to send Fargen back to Pierre for another round. Compare that to Gerry Lange's support among the GOP: 33%.

The strongest Dem tilt away from the party line comes in the state senate race, where a third of my people picked incumbent Russell Olson over challenger Clark Schmidtke, Sr. Part of this is likely name and party recognition: this is Schmidtke's first time on our ballot, and he's labeled "I" instead of "D" due to filing in June. But Dems, seriously: Russell Olson? The man who would rather send your tax dollars to foreign oil companies than our own schools?

An apparent anomaly: our "none" voters. Several participants marked no party affiliation. They clearly lean Dem on the House and Governor races. However, they flip the opposite direction on the state senate race, favoring Republican Olson over Indy/Dem Schmidtke. And on the state house race, those "no party" voters give the edge to Democrat Gerry Lange and Independent/Glenn Beck clubber Jason Bjorklund (wow—imagine a debate between those two!).

Herseth Sandlin
Table 1: Support for candidates by party affiliation

Now for something a bit more complicated, a crosstab on support between candidates (click image to enlarge):

Table 2: Cross-candidate support. Numbers in green (along main diagonal) indicate number of votes received by candidate.

Take a look at the "Bjorklund" column at the far right. The first cell, 70%, tells us that 70% of the people who voted for Bjorklund also voted for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. The cell below that, 20%, says that only 20% of Bjorklund's voters also voted for fellow conservative Kristi Noem. None of Bjorklund's people went for fellow Tea-flavored insurgent Marking or for fellow local conservative and veteran Patricia Stricherz.

Bjorklund's numbers are small but surprising. Bjorklund has an advantage, of course, in a poll conducted on the main street of his hometown. But in less than a year of organizing the local 9-12 Project, Bjorklund appears to have at least built more name recognition than second-time campaigner Stricherz. There's no clear ideological bent to his advantage, however, when the majority of his supporters will also vote for pragmatic incumbent Democrats like Herseth Sandlin and Mitch Fargen.

The strongest association on the crosstab: 95% of Schmidtke voters also tilt for Heidepriem. Now there's a statistic that no other polling firm will unearth!

Alas, that relationship doesn't fully reciprocate: 64% of Heidepriem's voters also voted for Schmidtke. A similar dynamic takes place between Noem and Daugaard. 88% of Noem's voters also pick Daugaard, but only 50% of Daugaard's voters go for Noem. This split suggests two possibilities:
  1. Even though U.S. House is arguably the higher office, Daugaard has the coat tails.
  2. For all the blog and national press Bachman-Palin-young-gun buzz about Noem, Daugaard is still the star on the GOP ticket. He's got the name recognition to draw the less partisan or less engaged voters. Noem still has work to do.
Readers, your local punditry is welcome. Fire away!


  1. You amaze me, CAH. Is there a way to get Dems energized?

    Representative Herseth-Sandlin's campaign office called and asked me to do some canvassing.hought ip was already doing some of that.

    Get in here, South Dakota Democrats! Get angry and fund your party!


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