The South Dakota Gubernatorial race is starting to tilt towards Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem.
Ten days after our first KELOLAND Media Group/Argus Leader 2018 Election Poll, numbers from our most recent poll, which took place October 29 through 31, show Noem with a three-percent lead over Democratic State Senator Billie Sutton. Mason-Dixon researchers asked 500 registered voters questions about the gubernatorial candidates, the state of South Dakota and President Donald Trump.
When asked who they would vote for if the election was held today, Noem received 47 percent of the vote, while Sutton had 44 percent. Eight percent of voters were still undecided and Libertarian Kurt Evans had one percent.
These results come more than one week after a KELOLAND Media Group/Argus Leader 2018 Election Poll from Oct. 18 through Oct. 22 showed the race as a tie. Sutton had 45 percent and Noem had 45 percent, while Evans had one percent and nine percent of voters were undecided in that poll.
The newest poll shows Noem pulled one percent of voters away from Sutton and one percent from undecided voters to build a three-percent lead.
Voters also answered questions on name recognition and whether they had a favorable, unfavorable or neutral opinion of the candidates. One of the biggest changes between the two polls was Sutton’s favorable opinion.
For Noem, 46 percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion, while 37 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 17 percent are neutral. That’s compared to Sutton, who 44 percent said they have a favorable opinion of, 32 percent have an unfavorable opinion, 22 percent are neutral and two percent don’t recognize him.
In the first poll, Sutton received higher favorable opinions from likely voters than Noem. That poll showed Sutton with favorable opinions at 50 percent and unfavorable at 24 percent. Noem was at 44 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable in the first poll.
We also broke down the results by region, age, sex and party affiliation.
South Dakotans also answered whether they believe things in the state are on the right track or on the wrong track. Sixty-eight percent of all voters said things were on the right track, 19 percent were on the wrong track and 13 percent are not sure.
For people stating they’d vote for Noem, 90 percent thought South Dakota was on the right track, two percent said wrong track and eight percent are not sure. For Sutton voters, 46 percent though South Dakota was on the right track, 37 percent said wrong track and 17 percent are not sure.
For the eight percent of undecided voters, 63 percent think South Dakota is on the right track, 20 percent think the wrong track and 17 percent were not sure.
We also asked voters if they approve of Donald Trump’s performance as president. Fifty-seven percent say they approve, while 38 percent disapprove of Trump’s performance as president and five percent are not sure.
Of likely Noem voters, 94 percent approve of Trump’s performance as president and three percent disapprove and three percent aren’t sure. Nineteen percent of Sutton voters approve of Trump’s performance as president, while 75 percent disapprove and six percent are not sure. Undecided voters approve at 53 percent, disapprove at 35 percent and 12 percent are not sure.
Voters also picked from three statements that were closest to their views.
1. I want my vote to support the direction President Trump is leading the nation.
2. I want my vote to change the direction President Trump is leading the nation.
3. My vote will not have anything to do with President Trump and his polices.
For all voters, 41 percent said their Governor vote will have nothing to do with President Trump, while 30 percent support and 27 percent want change.
According to Mason-Dixon polling, “Most Undecided Voters” (63 percent) feel things in South Dakota are on the right track and approve of Donald Trump’s performance as president (53 percent). This puts them more in line with the feelings of those currently backing Noem.
Looking closer at “Most Undecided Voters,” 33 percent want their vote to support Trump’s polices, while only 16 percent want to change Trump’s polices. There’s 48 percent of undecided voters saying their vote will have nothing to do with their views about Trump’s national agenda.
Mason-Dixon polling concludes that if those “Most Undecided Voters” wanting to support Trump’s polices vote for Noem and everyone else — those who want to change Trump’s polices or those saying their vote will have nothing to do with their views about Trump’s national agenda — voted for Sutton, it’d create a 50 percent to 49 percent edge for Noem. All of which Mason-Dixon called speculative and within the measurable margin of error.
Stay with KELOLAND News for more coverage and reaction on this poll. KELOLAND’s Don Jorgensen will dig into the numbers on KELOLAND News at 5, 6 and 10 on Thursday.
Election Day is Nov. 6.
*This poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida from Oct. 29 through Oct. 31, 2018. A total of 500 registered voters in South Dakota were interviewed statewide by telephone. All stated they have already voted or are likely to vote in the midterm election.
Those interviewed were selected randomly from a telephone-matched voter registration list that included both landline and cell phone numbers. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter turnout by county.
The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than 4.5 percentage points. This means that there is a 95 percent probability that the “true” figure would fall within that range if all voters were surveyed. The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as a gender or age grouping.