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Election Lessons for 2012
Nov 14, 2012
History, political science, and 2014 strategy take longer than one week to write. But here's the first draft of key lessons from South Dakota's 2012 election... in under 400 words! Go!
- For better or for worse, South Dakotans prefer the status quo in public education to the policy options offered them this year. They rejected Governor Dennis Daugaard's ideological K-12 reform package by a 2-to-1 margin. But they also turned down a sales tax increase that would have put $90 million a year into education.
- South Dakotans divide policy from personality to the point of cognitive dissonance. While they rejected two referred laws, they re-elected the folks who voted for those unpopular policies at about the same rate as they re-elected incumbents in general.
- South Dakotans want a do-nothing Congress. Congresswoman Kristi Noem regularly skipped work and fooled around on the phone even when she was on the job. Before Election Day, she promised to do even less work by taking fewer committee assignments. Almost 54,000 more South Dakotans gave Noem their vote this year than in 2010.
- Rewarding bad behavior begets bad behavior. Congresswoman Noem's first big post-election-victory announcement was that she would step down from her leadership liaison role. That's one less channel through which Rep. Noem can make South Dakota's lone House voice heard.
- Sioux Falls is no urban liberal enclave. In a greater metropolitan area spanning nine legislative districts, Sioux Falls voters and their near neighbors filled five of their 27 seats with Democrats. That's 19%. Statewide, Dems won 23% of the seats in the state House and Senate combined. If our liberal young people are moving off the farm and heading for the big city, they're stopping in Sioux Falls just long enough to hit the Starbucks drive-through before rolling on to Minneapolis.
- Running as a Democrat in South Dakota may be a fool's errand. Dems run sharp policy experts like Matt Varilek and Matt McGovern. They campaign smart, run far more center than left, but still don't get many more votes than historical averages say we could get with a box of rocks stamped "D". Maybe that's the Dems' problem: they don't run fools. Maybe it's time to run some Wellstone Democrats who look South Dakota in the eye and shout, "Heck yeah! I'm a Dem, and you should be too!" That's so crazy, it just might work.
Editor's Note: Cory Heidelberger is our political columnist from the left. For a right-wing perspective on politics, please look for columns by Dr. Ken Blanchard every other Monday on this site.
Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.