From The Mitchell Daily Republic (subscription required).
First, Mike Rounds has been running for re-election for, oh, about three and a half years. Much of that time, he was unopposed. Yet, he can only manage a little over half of the voters. It is probably safe to assume that after three and a half years and 99 percent name recognition that the undecided voters are probably not going to vote for Mike. Put them in Jack’s column. So, Mike has essentially topped out in his support. He has nowhere to go but down, Jack can only increase his support.
Second, what our pollster tells us is that there is no indication of how strong Mike’s support is in the media poll. Is it strong? Middling? Weak? Without the indication of the degrees of support, his number is not as daunting as it might seem. But yes, it’s better than Jack’s. Still, we think Jack will pick up a number of those who are only marginally supportive of Mike. Our polling did survey voter commitment. Guess what: Our polling shows that Mike’s support is fairly wide but also very shallow.
Third, 68 percent of the voters either have no opinion of Jack or they simply don’t know who he is. That’s understandable for a guy who’s only been running for governor since April and is a Democrat in a Red State. So, Jack has a lot of people to meet, either in person or via the mass media. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Jack and running mate Eric Abrahamson in the coming weeks.
Fourth, our own polling shows that 60-70 percent of the voters agree with Jack on the major issues — abortion, open government, use of the state airplane, education funding, economic development, health care and so on. As people get to know Jack, their views and votes will align with him.
Fifth, we do agree with Gov. Rounds’ recent statement that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. The media gets caught up in the “horse race” aspects of major political races — who’s up, who’s down, etc. What they often don’t do is cover the issues. Did you know that Jack Billion unveiled a major announcement this week on agricultural policy? Did you know that Jack Billion has called for the enforcement of South Dakota’s own country of origin labeling law for meat products? Maybe not. Covering issues takes hard work, digging, interviewing, and comparing plans. It’s a lot easier to hire a pollster than report policy ideas — i.e., substance.