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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Herseth Sandlin vs. Noem: Most Critical Issue, Least Critical Question

Part 7 of the Madville Times' South Dakota State Fair Congressional Debate analysis

The hosts of Sunday's debate—SD Corn Growers, American Coalition of Ethanol, East River Electric and SD Touchstone Energy Cooperatives—gave ag questions the spotlight before turning to other topics. Alas, out of several questions submitted by the packed house, the hosts chose this puffball: What is the most critical issue facing our country, and what will you do about it?

Come on, people. You might as well ask, "What's your stump speech?" or "What's the first paragraph on your website?" Use a debate to ask candidates the unexpected, to challenge their ability to think on their feet.

Oh well. We still got answers. Noem said the national debt. Herseth Sandlin said the economy.

Noem cited the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen to support her case. She said she decided to run in February while watching Congress pas a health care reform bill that we can't afford and that our children will pay for. Noem broke out numbers, saying the national debt has increased 39% since Obama took office. She said Congress should have to operate under a balanced budget requirement just like the South Dakota Legislature. She nicked Congress for failing to pass a budget resolution this year, the first time that's happened since 1974. And for good measure, Noem added that Congress is going into debt passing all sorts of programs that have no benefit for South Dakota. She said the stimulus promised South Dakota 10,000 jobs and instead we've lost 10,000 jobs.

Herseth Sandlin noted that the debt and clean energy are parts of the overall economic recovery problem. She then opened fire on Noem. She said Noem wants to have it both ways. Herseth Sandlin said Noem claims to support wind enegy but criticizes the stimulus, which has created 40,000 wind energy jobs. Herseth Sandlin said Noem blasts deficit spending but used those federal dollars three times to plug South Dakota's state budget gaps.

Herseth Sandlin defended the stimulus as necessary to counter the economy's downward spiral. The stimulus, she said, is about stabilizing the economy and making smart investments. She also challenged Noem's jobs numbers, citing the Sioux Falls Business Journal to say we've added 6200 jobs. Herseth Sandlin said Republican Governor Mike Rounds himself agrees that we've added jobs.

Herseth Sandlin concluded that she has the record on restoring pay-go principles, capping discretionary spending, and finding ways to pay for our priorities.

Assessment: As I said, it's a puffball question, so winning it doesn't add many points. Both candidates mustered numbers and clashed well. Had the organizers allowed rebuttal time, I'd have liked to have given Noem a chance to show her chops in listening and responding to her opponent's comments on the fly. Call this one even.


  1. According to "Dakota Midday" on SDPB today (Tuesday), a recent poll shows SHS leading Noem by nine points.

    If Marking gets 2 percent of the vote, and assuming all of those votes would otherwise go to Noem, then SHS leads Noem by 11 points.

    Polls have bias, of course; in another recent poll, Noem leads by several percentage points. In any case, Republicans had better come out in unprecedented force if they want Noem to replace SHS next year.

    I suspect that Noem's traffic tickets and apparent disregard for the legal consequences have hurt her considerably. I still plan to vote for her -- but only because of my (perhaps irrational) distrust of a continuing left-wing "regime."

    Even that personal bias could change! My advice to Kristi Noem: Stay away from Exit 30 going west on I-90. I almost got killed there on Labor Day, and I haven't had a speeding ticket since 1975.

  2. Indeed, the only big polls out there are the GOP-run Rasmussen polls and the internal Dem polls, both fraught with bias. My June poll might be just a reliable!

    The SD GOP did not hit the polls with unprecedented force in the June primary. Will they catch the wave and turn out in big numbers in November? And will we be able to wake up the Dems to do the same?

    Win or lose, slowing down on the road is good advice for everyone, including Kristi and family.

  3. Cory,

    You can't compare the DCCC commissioned poll to Rasmussen. Totally different metholodologies and purposes.

    Regarding your charge of bias (because you don't like what the numbers say?), here are some comments about Rasmussen's veracity.

    Used by Real Clear Politics on par with Gallup, PPD (Dem firm), Survey USA, Quiniapac, etc. If they believed they were inherently biased, they wouldn't be included in their averages.

    Slate Magazine and The Wall Street Journal: "one of the most accurate polling firms for the 2004 United States presidential election and 2006 United States general elections."

    Politico: "Rasmussen's 2008 presidential-election polls "closely mirrored the election's outcome"."

    Nate Silver (liberal who Fleming likes to reference): "Rasmussen – with its large sample size and high pollster rating – would probably be the one I'd want with me on a desert island."

    Nate Silver this April: Believes the filters (used by every reputable poll) are off during this election cycle because this year "Rasmussen's "house effect" was skewing its polling numbers and "to believe that Rasmussen is getting it right: you also have to believe that almost everyone else is getting it wrong."

    Silver also doesn't believe the difference can fully be explainedby Rasmussen polling only "likely voters" rather than all adults.

    However, as someone who watches the polls regularly where the other polls are moving toward Rasmussen's numbers, Silver (who I too think is a great statistician) might end up retracting his comments. In fact, Gallup just announced they have adjusted their filters to account for the intensity factor (Republicans more likely to vote this cycle where the opposite was true in 2008).

  4. Bob Ellis often reminds us that the United States is not a democracy and trusts the Kochs of the nation to sustain job creation by exploiting resources.

    Rather than calling President Obama's inclination to let the Bush tax cuts lapse a movement toward socialism maybe it is really just more of a movement closer to democracy by asking those with the most to lose to pay more.


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