A little truth amidst a humor piece?

From Jon Ellis at the Argus Leader comes a humor piece, where amongst the jabs, he points out that South Dakota Democrats couldn’t make payroll:

Curiously, most of the candidates are Republicans. Only one of the state’s 23 registered Democrats, Rick Weiland, is in the race. When it started, 2013 promised to be the year when Stephanie Herseth Sandlin would revive her political career and U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, son of the senator, would start his. But Herseth Sandlin was attacked by the tea party wing of the Democratic Party and decided not to trade a cushy job for a campaign trail and the hectoring of McGovernites about universal health care.

Brendan Johnson, meanwhile, got elbowed out of the race by senior Democratic senators, who are among the finest statesmen that super PACs can buy. They tried to clear the Democratic field for Herseth Sandlin, and they ended up getting neither and making a hash out of the deal.

All of this led to the further demise of the Democratic Party in South Dakota, which would be put out of its misery if South Dakota allowed euthanasia. The chairman of the party, Ben Nesselhuf, fled to Iowa, where he felt life would be better managing a campaign against longtime conservative incumbent Steve King. At one point, the party couldn’t make payroll, and what’s left of it is sleeping under a bridge next to the Big Sioux River.

Read that here.

I’d heard a few rumors to that effect, specifically that Nesselhuf bailed on the Dems because he knew that funds coming from national Dems were coming to an end.

That, plus unknown or in Weiland’s case, awful candidates, does note bode well for their 2014 prospects.

Republican Jason Ravnsborg enters US Senate Race in South Dakota.

logo_ravensborgComing as an announcement on the Greg Belfrage show this morning, Yankton Attorney & Army Combat Veteran Jason Ravnsborg entered the US Senate race as a Republican running in the 2014 primary against what is already a crowded field for the Republican nomination.

Ravnsborg will be joining former Governor Mike Rounds, who has already been running for a year at this point, as well as State Senator and former House Majority Leader Larry Rhoden, State Representative and political gadfly Stace Nelson, and family physician Dr. Annette Bosworth.

ravnsborgRavnsborg, whose campaign website can be found at JasonforSouthDakota.com had been a Major in the US Army Reserve, and served from September 1996 to Jan 2013. His service includes deployments in Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Ravnsborg has been a partner at his law office since April 2004, and this represents his first foray into electoral politics.

According to a release issued by the campaign….


Jason Ravnsborg announced today his candidacy for the United States Senate for the state of South Dakota.

Jason Ravnsborg is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Tim Johnson. Senator Johnson announced his retirement at the end of this Congressional session.

Jason has a diverse background having grown up on a farm, by being a small business owner, by working as a practicing attorney and serving our nation as a Major in the Army Reserves.

Jason received a Bachelor of Science in History and Political Science as well as a Masters of Arts in History and a Juris Doctorate, along with an Army commission through ROTC from the University of South Dakota.

Jason has been deployed three times in support of the Global War on Terrorism.  He has been deployed to Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, a Combat Action Badge and he was honored at Congress for his service.

When asked what his major accomplishment was as a member of the Army, Jason said, “Even with all of the accomplishments we, as a unit, achieved; my personal highest achievement was bringing the men and women I was responsible for all home to their loved ones.”

Jason has answered the call from the citizens of South Dakota to run for the U.S. Senate. Jason believes that our national debt is out of control and that we must balance our budget. Jason believes that our government is not responding to the will of the American people who have steadfastly been against Obamacare from the beginning.  Jason intends to roll up his sleeves and work hard every day to improve Washington and make it more responsive to the electorate.

Jason has always been a decisive and hard-working leader, who has always sought to lead by example. Jason has a strong moral compass and intends to listen to the people to the people of South Dakota and find out what they want in a Senator, so he can represent their interests in Washington D.C. as their next Senator.

I’d also like to welcome Jason to the race, and ask that you check out his advertisement right under the news feed.

Harper polling releases GOP Head to head numbers: Rounds 58%, Not Sure 22%.

chartThe GOP telephone polling firm Harper Polling released numbers today showing the head to head contest between the GOP portion of the field, and it shows a tremendous lead on the part of former Governor Mike Rounds at 58%, with the undecideds making up the next significant category at 22%. Tweeting victory a short time ago, Nelson came in at 8%, Rhoden at 7%, and Bosworth at 6%, numbers that were close enough to one another that they were all within the margin of error.

Favorable/Unfavorable ratings reflect similar opinions on the race, showing Rounds built in name ID in the contest offer him advantages the other candidates have been unable to access as of yet:

chart(1)Rounds’ favorable/unfavorable ratings are as high as they ever were during his tenure as Governor, and nearly match the number of people who have no familiarity with the other candidates.

The biggest caveat to the polling is the sample size. 252 Republican Primary voters. While it makes for interesting reading, hardly anything to bet the farm on.

KCCR: Venner still teases US Senate bid

Tony Mangan over at KCCR is reporting that former State Representative Mark Venner is still teasing that he could be jumping in the US Senate race. Anytime:

Mark Venner, a former state legislator and Hughes County Commissioner, has been testing the political waters on whether to run in the 2014 Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Venner, who farms in rural Hughes County, had said he wanted to make a final decision on whether to run by Labor Day.

But Venner says he has made no decision yet. Venner says he plans to continue to test the waters, attending Republican events and meeting with potential voters. Venner says there is no new timetable for a new announcement, but says he is still leaning towards running.

Venner says he has created no exploratory committee, but has distributed information touting his credentials as a possible candidate. He says the reaction has been positive.

While there are already four declared Republican candidates in the field, Venner says he is not worried about being behind. He says current Congresswoman Kristi Noem, when she first ran for Congress in 2010, did not declare her candidacy until February of that year. She ultimately won the June Republican primary and the November general election.

Read all about it, and more at today’s KCCR.

Nelson rules twitter, Rounds rules facebook, and which really matters at the ballot box?

Another story, this time from the Capital Journal, on the utilization of social media by the candidates. And again, I’m going to talk about it just being the sprinkles on top:

Both dominate their three other rivals. Mike Rounds has only tweeted 73 times, despite his announcing his candidacy on Nov. 29. The accounts for Sioux Falls physician Annette Bosworth and state Sen. Larry Rhoden, who joined the race within a week of each other in July, seem anemic in comparison, with only 22 and seven tweets, respectively.

These numbers only count original tweets from the campaigns and not retweets.

In terms of frequency, Nelson seems destined to leave his opponents behind.

For example, during the seven-day stretch between Sept. 3 and Sept. 9, Nelson tweeted 58 times, compared to Weiland’s 20. Both are also easily surpassing Rhoden’s four, Bosworth’s two and Rounds’ one.

The number of followers the candidates had on Twitter also varied, but not by as much. Nelson still led the pack with 1,128 followers. Rounds had 478, Bosworth had 474, Weiland had 325 and Rhoden had 101.

Both Bosworth and Nelson had their Twitter accounts prior to the race.

On Facebook, the dynamics are slightly different. As of Monday evening, Rounds has a commanding lead in terms of “likes” to his page, with just shy of 5,000. Weiland and Bosworth were both less than half that number with 2,302 and 2,178 respectively. Nelson has slightly more than 1,400. Once again, Rhoden is behind the rest with 346 likes.


Blanchard himself is skeptical that social media are effective means to influence large numbers of people. Social media, much like the Internet, tend to gather like-minded people, so those liking a status or following a Twitter feed are most likely already in a candidate’s camp, he said.

Also, social media still tend to be the domain of college students and similarly young individuals – the block of voters least likely to cast a ballot.

“If you get the folks who are watching ‘Matlock’ on social media, then you’ve got something,” he said.

Read that here.

Ken Blanchard has a good point when he notes “If you get the folks who are watching ‘Matlock’ on social media, then you’ve got something.”

Campaigns and elections are not about who can out-tweet the other. ELECTIONS ARE ABOUT WINNING VOTES. IF YOU LACK A FOUNDATION FOR YOUR CAMPAIGN, YOU WILL FAIL.  I can’t say that enough.

Look, blogs are social media. If you are reading this, you are part of social media. However, it does not take the place of winning votes, and raising money to disseminate your message – two key foundations to a campaign.  Yes, it can supplement your efforts greatly, but if you don’t have the basics, you’re going to lose.

Now, here’s the part where I burst bubbles.

How much does South Dakota use twitter? According to this infographic, we’re 35% below the national average:

Twitter Usage Per Capita


What is the national average? A lot less than you think. According to a Princeton study:

As of February 2012, some 15% of online adults use Twitter, and 8% do so on a typical day. Overall Twitter adoption remains steady, as the 15% of online adults who use Twitter is similar to the 13% of such adults who did so in May 2011. At the same time, the proportion of online adults who use Twitter on a typical day has doubled since May 2011 and has quadrupled since late 2010—at that point just 2% of online adults used Twitter on a typical day. The rise of smartphones might account for some of the uptick in usage because smartphone users are particularly likely to be using Twitter.

Read that here.

So, if the national daily usage is 8%, and we’re 35% below the national average….  That places twitter usage at about 5.2% of the population of South Dakota.

Now, I said population. Not voting population.

Even if we’re to falsely assume that everyone twittering is of voting age, how many of those people are likely to vote?

State VEP VEP VAP Voting-Age Population
Highest Total Highest
Office Ballots Office
Turnout Counted Turnout
Rate Turnout Rate
South Dakota 59.40% 60.10% 57.70% 630,553

According to the US Election project, about 57.7%. Which at an absolute highest, puts twittering voters who will show up at the ballot box at 3% of the population.

Now, don’t lose heart, as if you take that overestimated 3% out of the total 57.7% of the population who went out to vote in a general election, that number is over 11,000 in a general election. So, being active in twittering is not a useless exercise. However, it should not be given overemphasis. Like I said, it comprises the sprinkles on top of the ingredients you’re putting together to build your election cake.

Now, Why should you NOT ignore facebook? At least going back to 2010, South Dakota was the #1 per capita user of facebook. 31% of us were on it at that point:

facebookRead that here.

In 2010, 31% of the state’s population had a facebook account. Take that against the US elections project number of ballots counted in SD. Around 114,000 people who voted are on Facebook. TEN TIMES THE ADOPTION OF TWITTER.

But in either case, whether twitter or facebook, again, they are not the end all, be all. They are supplemental to the basic mechanics & formula of winning an election race.

Facebook may be the frosting, and twitter might be the sprinkles. But if you want to win an election, you still have quite a bit of baking to do.

South Dakota Polling: Rounds holds largest lead, Rick Weiland Loses to nearly everyone

Rick Weiland is not Harry Reid’s guy. And according to the latest poll, it sounds like he isn’t anyone else’s either. From politico’s morning score:

FIRST LOOK: SOUTH DAKOTA SENATE POLL: Republican Mike Rounds holds the largest lead over Democrat Rick Weiland in a new survey by GOP firm Harper Polling, 52 percent to 38 percent. As for other Republicans vying for the open seat, Larry Rhoden leads Weiland 41-35, Stace Nelson leads Weiland 40-38 and Annette Bosworth trails Weiland 36-38. On a generic ballot, the Republican candidate leads the Democrat 46-36.

– “However, the generic ballot improves markedly for Democrats in the dominant media market of Sioux Falls (41% Democrat, 40% Republican) and among women (42% Democrat, 40% Republican),” pollster Brock McCleary writes. “Rounds outperforms the Republican generic ballot by 7% as a result of winning the Sioux Falls media market (50%-41%), women (44%-43%) and independents (45%-28%).’

– On Syria, 88 percent of South Dakotans expressed some awareness of the situation (“have you seen, read or heard anything recently”). On Obama’s strike proposal, 52 percent said they oppose it and 26 percent said they support it. The president’s job approval-disapproval stands at 39-54. The poll was conducted Sept. 4-5 among 517 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.31 percent. http://bit.ly/1d1O4Dm, http://bit.ly/18Lu5pz

Read it all here.

As you can see from polling, Rounds leads definitively, Rhoden leads just outside the margin of error, and Nelson & Bosworth are neck in neck with Weiland.

The Bare Bones Staff.

Based on candidate Nelson’s comment about going it alone, here are some key campaign positions that should be filled for any campaign. They can be volunteers, paid full time, or paid part-time consultants.

Campaign Manger – This person is the candidate’s right hand man. This is the second most important person in any campaign.  I know it is tempting for a candidate to try to run the campaign themselves.  However, While the candidate is out speaking, and meeting the public, the manager is already planning the next three or four events, handling all the nuts and bolts.  This is the behind the scenes person that makes it all work. This person is on top of everything. he is glue that holds everything together.

Treasurer – This person make sure the bills are paid (on time), and all the paper work is turned in to the right people at the right time, with all the “i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed In a national campaign, the paperwork alone is a daunting task.

Scheduling coordinator –  Making sure the right people and the right equipment is as the right place at the right time.  They are responsible for developing and executing events. The scheduling coordinator typically manages the candidate’s personal and campaign schedule; manages the field and advance team schedules and gathers important information about all events the campaign and candidate will attend.  Candidates and other members of the campaign must bear in mind that only one person should oversee the details of scheduling. Fluid scheduling is one of the many keys to making a profound impact on voters.  This person should always know where the candidate is, and where they are going.

Fund raiser – Campaigns are expensive. While the best fund raiser is the candidate themselves it take someone competent to turn appearances in to cash. The canidates spouse or grown childern are ideal for this position.  He or she can both make direct appeals to donors and has the necessary relationship with the candidate to keep him/her on the phone making calls to donors.

Volunteer/grass roots Coordinator – The volunteer coordinator must be a people person.  Working with volunteers is stressful, and requires diplomacy and patience.  The volunteer coordinator is responsible for recruiting, scheduling, and organizing the volunteer team.  Because volunteers are not paid and are often unskilled or have different skills, the coordinator needs to be able to smooth over egos and take full advantage of the skill sets that are offered.

Multi-media Coordinator – With social media, today news travels fast one mis step and everyone know it. The message needs to be same weather in print on a yard sign, twitter, blogs, TV spots. It all has to match. This person makes that happen.  They can also spot trends much faster than some polls.

As the campaign grows There will be other positions that will need to be filled with either volunteers or paid staff.  As a Candidate, you are asking the people to vote, and support you, this gives them that chance to do more than just vote.  The job title are not as important as getting the tasks done.  Choose the staff wisely,  they have to work with the candidate and other staff well.    A smaller force is more nimble and able to react to a changing situation much faster than a larger staff.  There is no extension on the deadline (election day) to get it right.

So, here's a question for all the US Senate candidates.

As of this coming Sunday, we’ll officially have 4 candidates in the US Senate race running for the Republican primary nomination for that office. And that’s an important point – they’re running to be the Republican nominee. Not the conservative nominee or the Christian nominee, or any other modifier.

In most Republican forums for GOP candidates for hotly contested offices office over the years, I’ve heard one question consistently raised. “If you aren’t successful, will you support the winner of the Republican primary?”

Now, some try to wordsmith their response, or give a pithy cop out answer such as “I don’t plan to lose,”  but that’s just avoiding the question for something at least three of the four candidates will have to face.  And I, for one, would like to hear what the candidates have to say about it, because it’s a clear measure of their commitment to the Republican party that Republican voters should take into account.

So candidates, here you go, and GOP readers, here’s a great question to ask as you go forth and hit those forums to figure out if they’re in it for themselves, or to be the standard bearer for the Republican party – If they aren’t successful, are they part of the Republican team and pledge to support the winner of the Republican primary?

Because if they won’t, well… that’s a good thing to know from the outset.

The State of the US Senate Race – where do the campaigns lie in monetary terms?

I’ve been talking to people working on the various US Senate campaigns on an ongoing basis, and thought it would be an interesting topic to point out what the early days are showing in their efforts, specifically as it relates to fundraising.

And as you might expect, most are keeping their cards close to the chest, so not as to entice their opponents to work harder, nor to dampen their own supporter’s spirits.

So, what have I heard about it?

In looking at Mike Rounds’ latest filing, I learned #1, Shantel Krebs’ middle name is ‘Shamiele,’ and I can’t figure out the ethnic derivation or meaning to save my life. (Not a dig, BTW, I’m curious, as it seems Irish or Welsh), And #2 he’s got more than a little bit of money in the bank.

roundsFECAt filing time, Rounds was cruising closer and closer to $1 million in the bank for the campaign. I’ve reached out to ask if they can provide an update, and will respond when they drop me a note back.

I also asked the Rhoden campaign where they were sitting in the few weeks that they’ve officially been in the race ‘how fundraising was progressing,’ and was informed by Rhoden spokesman Aaron Trost that “Fundraising is progressing well.  Our policy is we don’t reveal our fundraising numbers until after the FEC quarter ends.”

So, we’re left in suspense until their first filing, which I am guessing will be sometime in October.  The Bosworth campaign was tight with information as well, politely noting they have “nothing to share” at this time.

Stace Nelson took a moment out from some light back and forth banter with me on twitter on who is conservative, and what it means to be conservative, to note to me that while the $5000 cap on money raised through exploratory committee efforts has not been reached, he noted they’re very close.  Which we could assume is alongside the $2500 pledged to his campaign through the rally.org website.

So, that’s what I know. Rounds has filed, neither Bosworth nor Rhoden are showing their cards, and Stace is likely at a point where he has to make a decision.