Argus Leader/KELO poll: Mike Rounds up 9 with one week left

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Argus Leader/KELO poll: Mike Rounds up 9 with one week left
Political Smokeout
David Montgomery, dmontgome@argusleader.com 12:19 p.m. CDT October 27, 2014
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(Photo: Argus Leader file photos)
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Mike Rounds has a comfortable lead in the U.S. Senate race heading into the final week before the election, a new Argus Leader/KELO-TV poll finds.

Rounds isn’t entirely safe — his lead is single digits and he remains below 50 percent. Still, Democrat Rick Weiland’s chances of victory remain slim with most of the electorate already decided.

“Rounds is simply put a favorite, and a pretty heavy one going into the final days,” said Harry Enten, senior political writer and polling analyst for FiveThirtyEight, after reviewing the results.

The poll of 800 likely South Dakota voters shows Rounds, the Republican, with 42 percent support. Weiland is nine points back at 33 percent, while independent Larry Pressler is far behind with 13 percent. Independent Gordon Howie receives support from just 2 percent of respondents, while 10 percent are undecided.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted the poll from Oct. 20 to Oct. 23 via live interviewers. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Senate race: Rounds maintains lead

Argus Leader Media and KELO-TV asked 800 respondents: If the election for the U.S. Senate seat were held today, who would you vote for?

Rick Weiland
Mike Rounds
Larry Pressler
Gordon Howie
Undecided

Argus Leader Media / KELO-TV
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.

The root of Rounds’ support is his standing among Republicans. Just under 70 percent of Republican voters back Rounds, a few points ahead of the 66 percent of Democrats who support Weiland. But there are a lot more Republicans than Democrats in South Dakota. Rounds also wins independent voters 41-31.

“Because the state is so Republican, Rounds would have to be really underperforming with Republicans (to lose),” Enten said.

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Pressler, a former Republican senator who’s taken some liberal positions this year, is doing much better among Democrats than Republicans. Almost one-fifth of Democrats say they support Pressler, compared to 8 percent of Republicans.

Some elections can see dramatic shifts in the final days. But most respondents said they don’t plan to change their vote.

Only 12 percent of Rounds voters and 19 percent of Weiland voters say there’s a chance they could vote for someone other than their current choice. Pressler’s supporters could be up for grabs — 35 percent of them say they’re open to reconsidering.

The Democratic campaign against Rounds has focused on his management as governor of South Dakota’s EB-5 program, in which foreign investors were recruited for South Dakota projects. After millions of dollars of ads attacking Rounds on the subject, around half of all voters say EB-5 has affected their vote. But most of them say it’s only had a minor impact.
Poll: Breakdown of Senate race support

A closer look at how Democrats, Republicans and Independents say they are voting in the U.S. Senate race in South Dakota.

Republicans
Democrats
Independents

Weiland
Rounds
Pressler
Howie
Undecided
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Argus Leader Media / KELO-TV
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.

Meanwhile 45 percent of voters say EB-5 has had no effect on their vote — driven by huge numbers of Rounds voters who don’t care about the issue.

“The only concern I have is that Weiland is making an issue out of it,” said Floyd Mills of Custer, a committed Rounds supporter.

A full 73 percent of Rounds voters say EB-5 hasn’t affect their vote, while 75 percent of Weiland and Pressler voters say the issue is important. More Weiland supporters than Pressler supporters say the issue is extremely important.

“There’s something awful fishy about that,” said Weiland supporter Patrick Gross of Brandon. Gross said EB-5 “took (Rounds) right out” as a possible vote choice.

Of the 21 percent who say EB-5 has had a major impact, Weiland wins 65-18 over Rounds, with Pressler at 12. It’s a mirror image among the larger group of voters for whom EB-5 hasn’t had an impact: Rounds wins 68-17 with Pressler at 6 percent.

None of the candidates are broadly popular. Rounds is the best-liked of the lot, with 39 percent of voters having a favorable opinion of the former governor and 35 percent a negative opinion. That’s a sharp drop from when Rounds left office; a Mason-Dixon poll in 2010 found 49 percent with a favorable opinion of Rounds and just 18 percent with an unfavorable opinion.

Rick Weiland is liked by 30 percent and disliked by 29 percent, while Pressler is liked by 27 percent and disliked by 26 percent.

Marilu Hanson of Buffalo Gap said she’s still undecided in part because she doesn’t like any of the candidates.

“The state doesn’t have a strong candidate,” Hanson said. “It’s a matter of trust… They haven’t (earned my trust).”
Poll: Is EB-5 a factor in your vote?

We asked 800 people: How much of an effect have the issues raised about the funding that the Northern Beef Packers Plant in Aberdeen received through the EB-5 immigration program had on your voting decision on the South Dakota Senate race?

Major Effect
Minor effect
No effect

Rounds
Weiland
Pressler
Howie
Undecided
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Argus Leader Media / KELO-TV
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.
Respondents were given ‘major effect,’ ‘minor effect’ and ‘no effect’ choices. The above graphic shows who respondents are voting for based on how they answered the question.

This is the first Mason-Dixon poll of the South Dakota Senate race. Other polls by different firms in recent days have also shown Rounds with a comfortable lead. A Marist/NBC News poll released Sunday showed Rounds leading Weiland and Pressler 43-29-16, a 14-point advantage.

That’s a sharp change from earlier this month, when two independent polls showed Rounds in the mid-30s and in danger of losing.

While Rounds has seen his support rise five to 10 percentage points since the beginning of the month, Pressler has been in a free-fall. A SurveyUSA poll released Oct. 8 showed Pressler with 32 percent, just three points behind Rounds. After a brutal two weeks in which both Democrats and Republicans attacked Pressler, the Argus Leader/KELO-TV poll shows Pressler at just 13 percent.

Everything would have to go right for Weiland to pull off a victory — peeling off Rounds’ less-committed supporters, winning a majority of undecided voters, and convincing many of Pressler’s Democratic backers to come to his camp as well.

“It’s just very difficult to see how Weiland can make up the ground when you’re down nine with only a week and a little change to go,” Enten said.

Argus Leader Media/KELO poll shows former governor Mike Rounds with a lead over Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie.

POLL RESULTS

Question: If the 2014 election for South Dakota’s U.S. Senate seat were held today, would you vote for…

Rick Weiland: 33%

Mike Rounds: 42%

Pressler: 13%

Howie: 2%

Undecided: 10%

Voter support for candidates based on political party:

Democrats…

Weiland: 66%

Rounds: 8%

Pressler: 19%

Howie: 0%

Undecided: 7%

Republicans…

Weiland: 9%

Rounds: 68%

Pressler: 8%

Howie: 4%

Undecided: 11%

Independents:

Weiland: 31%

Rounds: 41%

Pressler: 14%

Howie: 2%

Undecided: 12%

Question: How much of an effect have the issues raised about the funding that the Northern Beef Packers Plant in Aberdeen received through the EB-5 immigration program had on your voting decision on the South Dakota Senate race? Have they had a major effect, some effect or no effect at all?

Major: 21%

Minor: 31%

No Effect: 45%

Not Familiar: 3%

Voter support for candidates based on how much of an effect EB-5 has had on their vote:

Major Effect…

Rounds: 18%

Weiland: 65%

Pressler: 12%

Howie: 1%

Undecided 4%

Minor Effect…

Rounds: 21%

Weiland: 36%

Pressler: 23%

Howie: 3%

Undecided: 17%

No Effect…

Rounds: 68%

Weiland: 17%

Pressler: 6%

Howie: 2%

Undecided: 7%

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