Seth Tupper got me all excited by pointing to this U. of M. Smart Politics headline: "Did an Independent Turn South Dakota's 2010 U.S. House Race?" Finally! I thought we might get an answer to the question that may be keeping Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin tossing at night and shunning the mic.
Alas, Dr. Eric Ostermeier doesn't answer his own headline question. Smart Politics notes what we already know: B. Thomas Marking's 6% finish was huge for a third-party or no-party South Dakotan (though, not noted by Ostermeier, still slightly lower than fringe conspiracy theorist Lori Stacey's finish in this year's Secretary of State race). Marking's take was larger than the 2.2% margin by which Kristi Noem beat the incumbent.
But the SP article presents no new analysis of whether Marking took more votes from Herseth Sandlin or from Noem. Ostermeier interviews Marking, who repeats what he told the Mitchell Daily Republic a couple weeks ago, that he believes he drew equally from each candidate. Marking doesn't even think his 6% finish is that remarkable: he compares his campaign to other third-party efforts across the country and says, "They get a few percent of the vote. Six percent doesn't separate me from them."
So we're still where we've been since Election Night, with lots of speculation but no evidence that Marking's 6% take changed the final outcome of the race.