South Dakota may be home to Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug and the Badlands, but this fall it will also be witness to a competitive House race between a rising star of the GOP and a consummate DC insider with deep connections to DC’s special interest community.
South Dakota is one of seven states in the Union to have only one, At-Large Congressional District. After the incumbent resigned in 2004, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin narrowly won the special election with 51% of the vote. Viewed as one of the most competitive races in the country, Herseth Sandlin marginally defeated her opponent in the general election with 53% of the vote. As the Democratic wave swept the country, Herseth Sandlin’s margin of victory grew, but as you will see, only temporarily.
By all accounts, South Dakota’s House seat should belong in the Republican column seeing that the state has an R+9 rating from the Cook Political Report. The state has voted for every Republican presidential candidate since 1968, despite several attempts by Democrats to turn this state blue. A telltale sign of just how conservative-leaning this state truly is the fact that U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) will go unchallenged this fall - the first time in the state’s modern history in which a major party has failed to field a Senate candidate. The state has a Cook PVI rating of R+9, and was won by both John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004.