Share |
Photo by Katie Hunhoff.
Photo by Katie Hunhoff.

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.


07:42 pm - Wed, November 14 2012
dave tunge said:
A tad of sarcasm here Cory, but let's just pretend for a minute that all South Dakotan's were, well......just South Dakotans. Pretend that there were no Democrats or Republicans.........just South Dakotans.
Question now..........would you have to quit writing articles for lack of subject material?
07:13 am - Thu, November 15 2012
Rebecca said:
There's definitely something interesting about number two.
02:39 pm - Thu, November 15 2012
Dave, some would contend your hypothetical is already practically true, in that South Dakota is mostly a one-party state.

The absence of party labels would still leave me with more things to write about than I'll ever get to. Did policy and voting records make a difference in any South Dakota races?

Rebecca, #2, the policy/personality divide, deserves some serious investigation.
06:05 am - Fri, November 16 2012
Grumpy said:
Al, Cory this guy just continues to prove he doesn't fit in South Dakota let alone Western SD and does more to hurt education than anyone in the state. What a shame.
07:57 am - Fri, November 16 2012
John Andrews said:
I sarcastically suggested that we be allowed to vote on IM 15 sometime after the general election so we would know the make-up of the legislature because I simply assumed that #2 would happen. That's kind of a head-scratcher. Someone I talked to suggested that the Democrats need to do a better job during the campaign of tying these unpopular policies to the legislators that supported them.
12:13 pm - Fri, November 16 2012
larry kurtz said:
America has just gotten greater while there is little doubt that South Dakota is a failed state: now polluted beyond repair by industrial agriculture and mining. It's just a matter of time before EPA disbands SDDENR for its partisanship and corruption then assumes environmental protection for its dying people.

The Noem/Kopp 'gas of life' has clearly gotten to Al/Julie.
07:48 pm - Sat, November 17 2012
John, interesting timeframe idea! Part of my vote for IM15 was conditioned on the idea that we would have provoked our legislators to take some serious action on school funding and our tax code. I probably would have voted the same way knowing the legislators I'd have to work with, since the balance of power didn't really shift.I would also have liked to see more synergy between the ballot measures and the candidate campaigns. But the question remains: did voters demonstrate that policy/personality disconnect just because Dems didn't push that message hard enough? Or would some other psychological barrier have made that pushing futile?
07:21 am - Mon, November 19 2012
John Andrews said:
It just seems like if voters were frustrated enough to vote down the education reform package and the economic development fund so handily, they would be equally frustrated at the legislators who originally approved them. Granted, voters have differing policy priorities, so turnover in the legislature shouldn't mimic the votes on the referred laws, but shouldn't more incumbents have been voted out? This is probably a question for Jon Lauck, John Miller, Donald Simmons and the contributors of "The Plains Political Tradition."
07:37 pm - Tue, November 20 2012
Somewhere, someone is writing that chapter for Lauck et al.'s sequel!
04:44 pm - Wed, November 21 2012
dave tunge said:
John, Cory........
Perhaps you guys don't understand the rationale behind all this. Maybe I can 'splain it.
Just because I make some decisions that get "overturned" by my bride of 45 years doesn't give her cause to throw me out and find a replacement. We still have a good working relationship that has nothing to do with left or right. Best thing that could happen is not label our elected officials.

Share your thoughts, post a comment to this story:

Your Name:
Your Email Address:  
Your Website:
2000 characters remaining
Web Design by Buildable