The RSS feed is now up and running for the new Political Smokeout. Redirect your RSS readers to http://rssfeeds.argusleader.com/siouxfalls/politicalsmokeout.
Big changes coming for this blog: The Argus Leader’s website is undergoing a long-needed overhaul , and that means changes for Political Smokeout.
This blog is moving from Tumblr to the main Argus Leader website. Starting now, you’ll be able to find it at www.argusleader.com/blog/davidmontgomery/. Above you can see an example of what it will look like — at least for now.
The new website means big improvements for regular stories at argusleader.com — bigger pictures, easier navigation, and no more breaking up stories into multiple pages.
It’s more of a mixed bag for the blogs. Tumblr is a rich platform (though I prefer Wordpress), and some features I’ve used — like the category links in the sidebar — are going to be going away.
This is a new web platform, with bugs still to solve, so the new Political Smokeout is going to be a work in progress over the coming months. I welcome your suggestions for changes, though I might or might not be able to implement them.
I’ve uploaded my past month of posts to the new blog, but will be leaving the Tumblr online as a permanent archive. There will, however, be no more posts here once the switch happens — except possibly as a backup during outages of the argusleader.com.
Again, for the new home of Political Smokeout, visit www.argusleader.com/blog/davidmontgomery/.
All seven major U.S. Senate candidates have turned in nominating petitions by today’s deadline, though two have yet to be certified by Secretary of State Jason Gant.
Candidates had to turn in their nominating petitions to Gant’s office in Pierre by 5 p.m. Tuesday – or sent them through the United States Post Office as registered mail by 5 p.m.
As of early evening Tuesday, Gant had certified the petitions of Democrat Rick Weiland, Republicans Stace Nelson, Larry Rhoden and Mike Rounds, and independent Larry Pressler. Republicans Annette Bosworth and Jason Ravnsborg turned in their petitions Tuesday afternoon, but Gant’s staff had yet to verify that they contained enough valid signatures.
In other races, both parties will now officially face primaries for governor. Incumbent Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who formally announced his reelection bid Tuesday, will face former state lawmaker Lora Hubbel in the GOP primary, while state Rep. Susan Wismer and former state wildfire chief Joe Lowe will battle in the Democratic primary.
As of Tuesday evening, independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers hadn’t had his nominating petitions confirmed. Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Curtis Strong said in an email that he had filed his required petitions.
In the U.S. House race, both incumbent Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Corinna Robinson have qualified for the ballot.
Jon Schaff, a political scientist at Northern State University in Aberdeen, said getting enough petitions to get on the ballot – between 1,000 and 2,000, depending on the party and the race – is a simple but important test of a candidate’s organization.
“Part of what makes an operation like this credible is, can you do what is essentially a very basic task, which is get petitions signed,” Schaff said.
In state legislative races, Republicans continued their trend of contesting more seats across the state – though as of Tuesday evening neither party had candidates for every seat.
Democrats are running for 20 of the 35 seats in the state Senate, and 49 of the 70 seats in the state House. Republicans have candidates in 30 of 35 Senate races, and for 61 of 70 House seats.
More candidates are expected to be added to the ballot in coming days, as more petitions come in through registered mail.
Republicans also have more primary battles for state Legislature. They have more candidates than there are seats in four Senate races and nine House races, compared to one and four, respectively, for the Democrats.
Schaff said Democrats are starting at a disadvantage by not fielding candidates in more races.
“They’re conceding to Republicans roughly one-third of the legislature,” Schaff said. “It’s just like in a football game, you can’t spot the other team two touchdowns and expect to win. That’s essentially what’s happening.”
Nielson Brothers Polling has released the second part of their Sioux Falls municipal poll, in which they show incumbent Mayor Mike Huether with a moderate 48-36 lead over challenger Greg Jamison.
I’m still waiting on the full question order and crosstabs from the poll, though it does raise an eyebrow that the poll appears to have asked respondents’ opinion about the direction of the city and the two candidates and city council before asking about the head-to-head matchup. Anything you ask respondents before a head-to-head question can influence how they’re thinking when the main question comes up.
Heuther, in the poll, has a slightly higher approval rating than Jamison (a lower-profile figure), but also higher disapproval. Subtracting “strongly disapprove” from “strongly approve,” Huether is +21 and Jamison is +17.
They also poll the at-large city council races, finding a dead heat in the Christine Erickson-Denny Pierson race, but a firm 34-20-7 lead for incumbent Rex Rolfing over Manny Steele and Emmett Reistroffer in the other at-large race — though both races had high levels of undecided voters.
NBP is still establishing its track record, so it’ll be interesting to see how this poll compares to the actual results.
The poll was conducted from March 18 to March 20, via automated push-button response, with between 500 and 600 registered voters responding to different questions.
UPDATE: Some very interesting tidbits in the crosstabs for the poll, which NBP gave me access to.
Here’s two, focusing on how voters break down by party affiliation and ideology.
NBP asked respondents whether they were a Democrat, Republican or an independent. Among Democrats, Huether (a Democrat) beats Jamison (a Republican) 61-27. Among Republicans, Jamison has a slender 44-40 lead. Huether leads among independents 42-32. (There were 238 Democrats, 251 Republicans and 80 independents.)
Respondents were also asked if they consider their ideas to be liberal (96 respondents), moderate (168), conservative (196), or aligned with the Tea Party (60).
Among liberals, Huether leads 65-16. He also leads moderates 54-33. The decisive factor is Huether combining that with a 45-37 lead among conservatives. Only among Tea Partiers does Jamison lead, 56-29.
All of that shows why the poll showed a lead for Huether — if Jamison is running as a Republican candidate, he has to do better than a 4-point lead among Republican voters.
I also scrolled down to look at the at large council races for one more tidbit. Overall, Rex Rolfing has a huge lead in the At Large A race, with 34 percent to 20 percent for Manny Steele and 7 percent for Emmett Reistroffer. If you look at the crosstabs by ideology, Rolfing has big leads among moderates and liberals, and a narrow lead among conservatives. But Steele wins Tea Party voters 38-25 — about what you’d expect, given Steele’s outspoken conservatism in the state Legislature.
It took to the deadline, but Democrats got their U.S. Senate candidate officially on the ballot. Rick Weiland was certified today for the upcoming election by Secretary of State Jason Gant after turning in around 3,000 signatures Monday — about three times what he needed.
Meanwhile, on the same day Gov. Dennis Daugaard formally announced his reelection bid, Daugaard officially got a primary challenger. Former state Rep. Lora Hubbel qualified for the ballot as well.
U.S. Senate candidate Jason Ravnsborg is apparently turning in his petitions today at 2 p.m.:
BREAKING! #JasonRavnsborg-R-SD will be at Sec. of State, Pierre, 2 p.m. turning in paperwork for U.S. SENATE RUN- PHOTO OP/Q&A— cmdorsey #TCOT (@cmdorsey) March 25, 2014
Ravnsborg’s signatures will still have to be verified and every now and then a statewide candidate falls through the cracks.
Several statewide candidates have yet to turn in their petitions, to the best of my knowledge. Three are in the gubernatorial race: Democrat Susan Wismer, independent Mike Myers and Constitution Party candidate Curtis Strong.
U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth also has yet to report turning in her petitions.
Candidates have to turn in their petitions today, either in person at the Secretary of State’s office or by sending them via registered mail by the end of the day.
It can take several days for the Secretary of State to certify all the petitions coming in at and after the deadline — and longer if there’s a challenge.
Democrats for Jamison? Behind the scenes of the 2014 Sioux Falls mayoral election has been partisan politics: though no party names appear on the ballot, most people know that Mayor Mike Huether is a Democrat and that challenger Greg Jamison is a Republican, and both parties are working to elect their man.
Except not everyone. Some Republican business leaders have backed Huether this election. And some local Democratic elected officials are backing Jamison.
A reader sends in this invitation for a Jamison fundraiser Monday night. It’s hosted by
former city councilor Kermit Staggers — a Republican who lost to Huether in the 2010 mayoral race — but also by Jeff Barth and Pam Nelson. Barth, a Minnehaha County Commissioner, is the chair of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party. Nelson, the Minnehaha County Treasurer, is also a Democrat who formerly served as a statewide Public Utilities Commissioner.
In many ways this, not party divides, has been the norm in Sioux Falls city elections. Oftentimes municipal races come down not to Democrats and Republicans, but to an “establishment” party and an “outsider” party. (That’s also the case in Rapid City, where incumbent mayor Sam Kooiker was a champion of the outsider faction when he unseated establishment Alan Hanks.)
UPDATE: I mistakenly described Kermit Staggers as a former city councilor; he is still on the council.
On Sunday, stats guru Nate Silver came out with his initial projections for the 2014 U.S. Senate races. The news wasn’t great for Democrats; Silver said Republicans were “slight favorites” to win control of the Senate.
Democrats, however, went into full pushback mode:
In an unusual step, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Monday issued a rebuttal [of] the famed statistician’s prediction—made a day earlier—that Republicans were a “slight favorite” to retake the Senate. Silver was wrong in 2012, the political committee’s Guy Cecil wrote in a memo, and he’ll be wrong again in 2014.
Chris Cilizza at the Washington Post notes that the Democratic pushback is so vigorous because of how seriously people take Silver’s projections. His models seem firmer than the more qualitative projections by Rothenberg or Cook, Cilizza writes, especially for Democrats:
Know who REALLY listens to what Nate says? Major Democratic donors. They follow his projections extremely closely and, if he says the Senate majority won’t be held, they take it as the gospel truth… If the major donor community concludes that spending on the Senate isn’t a worthy investment, Cecil and his Democratic colleagues know that their chances of holding the majority get very, very slim. Nate’s predictions move money in Democratic circles. Cecil knows that. Hence the memo.
But let’s circle back to Silver’s initial predictions: he said Republicans are “slight favorites,” not that Republicans are going to win. And Silver likewise avoided yes-or-no calls on his races. Even deep blue Rhode Island or deep red Idaho aren’t 100 percent locks for their respective parties — Silver has each as a 99 percent chance of victory. Closer stats have closer odds. North Carolina is a 50-50 state. In South Dakota, Silver gives Republicans a 90 percent chance of winning — which means that if you run a bunch of scenarios, one time in 10 the Democrats win the seat. You prefer the GOP’s odds there, but 10 percent isn’t terrible.
With an amusing lack of self-awareness, Cecil’s memo even acknowledges this fact:
Nate Silver and the staff at FiveThirtyEight are doing groundbreaking work, but, as they have noted, they have to base their forecasts on a scarce supply of public polls. In some cases more than half of these polls come from GOP polling outfits. This was one reason why FiveThirtyEight forecasts in North Dakota and Montana were so far off in 2012. In fact, in August of 2012 Silver forecasted a 61% likelihood that Republicans would pick up enough seats to claim the majority. Three months later Democrats went on to win 55 seats.
Cecil points to cases where Silver forecast a percentage likelihood — 61 percent chance Republicans win the Senate, 10 percent chance Democrats win North Dakota’s Senate seat — and actual result was the less likely one.
But that’s why Silver gives his projections in odds in the first place. Sometimes the long-shot wins. That’s why their odds of victory are 10 percent instead of 0 percent.
It’s about thinking in terms of probability rather than certainty. Silver writes about probability, and more often than not his probable winners win — because that’s what probable winners do, if your sample size is big enough and your model is good enough. But most people don’t understand probability. (The continued profitability of gambling and lotteries provides all the evidence you need of that.) More importantly, they don’t think probabilistically in their day-to-day lives. Something is or isn’t going to happen, and when a respected forecaster like Silver says something is probable, many people think it’s certain. Cilizza:
Numbers = certainty for many casual observers of politics. And so, despite Nate’s warning about the danger of putting all your eggs in the model’s basket at this point in the election, lots and lots of people do exactly that.
Cecil, a professional, probably gets this, but his audience — the Democratic base Cilizza notes as the target audience — doesn’t seem to. Or at least Cecil doesn’t seem think they do. He’s probably right.
A final bit of snark from P.M. Carpenter (via Sullivan):
Should Silver’s facts re-shift in favor of Democrats, he will again be hailed by the DSCC as America’s one statistician who has never erred.
Stats whiz Nate Silver, who has a good (but not perfect) track record predicting the outcomes of political races, has released his initial forecasts for the 2014 U.S. Senate battle.
Overall, Silver says the Republicans are “slight favorites” to win control of the Senate, and gives them a 90 percent chance to win South Dakota’s Democrat-held Senate seat.
Silver notes that this forecast is preliminary and can change rapidly — shifts in the national political environment could give either party an advantage quickly. Further, compared to forecasts he makes closer to the election, he says there’s a larger amount of finessing and subjectivity in this early prediction.
Here’s what he says about South Dakota:
We also give Republicans a 90 percent chance of winning South Dakota. It’s a more straightforward case, except that the presumptive Republican nominee, Gov. Mike Rounds, has been caught up in a controversy over the state’s participation in the EB-5 immigration visa program. To have much of a chance, Democrats will either need Rounds to lose the Republican primary or be significantly damaged by it.
So far there’s not many signs of that happening. Early voting starts very soon, and Rounds’ Republican rivals need to start closing the gap, and quickly, if they want to have a chance at winning.
(Alternately, Rick Weiland or his allies could lend Rounds’ intra-party rivals a hand by launching attacks on him now. Advertising in the other party’s primary is an unusual tactic but one that has paid dividends in the past — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill won a tough race in 2012 in part by running ads in the GOP primary that slyly boosted the chances of Todd Akin, the eventual winner her team saw as the weakest candidate. Of course, a wide-open three-way primary isn’t the same as a race with a clear favorite, like Rounds is in South Dakota.)
Read Silver’s full forecast here.
In this morning’s paper, I took a brief look at how the far-away turmoil in Ukraine could affect one group of South Dakotans: wheat farmers, who have seen the price of their commodity skyrocket.
That’s because Ukraine is a major wheat producer; if you remove a large amount of supply from the market, the price goes up because demand stays constant.
But the most interesting aspect of the whole story was a comment by one market analyst, Arlan Suderman of Water Street Solutions:
During the Carter era we imposed embargoes against Russia being able to buy our wheat, because back then they were a significant buyer. Well, now they’re a major export competitor. There’s really not any effective ways of us punishing them using the food crops this time around, which farmers are happy about.
I knew Ukraine was a wheat producer, but I had been under the mistaken impression that Russia still relied on wheat imports. Not so, Suderman said:
I get farmers asking me about that on a regular basis. It’s a lack of realizing how much the pendulum has switched from the late 70s to where we are today.
UPDATE: Of course, experts generally conclude Carter’s wheat export ban didn’t actually have much of an effect on the USSR — though it did affect domestic grain prices, increasing them during the embargo and then sinking them afterwards, contributing to the 1980s farm crisis.
A pro-Mike Huether mailer, listing 10 accomplishments Huether says warrant another term as mayor.
I want to see campaign mailers you’re receiving. Email them to me at email@example.com or mail them to the Argus Leader c/o David Montgomery.