Kristi and Dusty win: A few observations

Kristi_Noem_portraitKristi Noem is the Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota, and Dusty Johnson is the nominee for U. S. House. Kristi will face Democrat Billie Sutton, the senate minority leader from Burke. Dusty will face Democrat Tim Bjorkman, a retired circuit court judge from Canistota.

Political intrigue will now turn to the selection of running mates, which can be expected ahead of the State Democratic Convention on June 15-16 in Sioux Falls and the State Republican Convention on June 21-23 in Pierre. An earlier post looked at what history tells us about these selections.

Here are a few observations about the result:

  • Kristi Noem is the first woman to be the Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota. She is the 7th woman to run for governor, the 4th Republican woman to run, and the 2nd woman to be a major party nominee. An earlier post looked at the history of these women.
  • Noem is the first sitting Member of Congress to run for South Dakota governor, and she would be the first Governor to have previously served in Congress.
  • Noem is the second Hamlin County native to be nominated for governor. Although she often refers to Castlewood as her home, her home place is actually closer to the very small town of Hazel. Governor Warren E. Green, who served from 1931-33, also farmed near Hazel. Sioux Falls is the only other town to elect more than one governor.
  • Dusty Johnson seeks to be the first Public Utilities Commissioner to be elected to Congress from South Dakota. He would also be the first chief of staff to a governor to win statewide office, in the modern history of the chief of staff position.
  • An analysis of bellwether counties on this blog pointed to Beadle and Davison counties as the best bellwethers. Beadle was within 1% of the final statewide result; Davison was within 2%.
  • Noem’s win was remarkably consistent across the state, however; 19 counties were within 2% of the statewide result. The conventional wisdom that Marty Jackley would prevail West River proved false; although he won the populated Northern Hills counties of Pennington, Lawrence, Meade and Butte, Noem won West River overall with 51%.
  • In the end, notwithstanding polling that showed a dead heat, Noem won by 12%, not cracking the Top 10 closest gubernatorial primaries in state history. For comparison, Bill Janklow defeated Walter Dale Miller by 8% in 1994, and Mike Rounds won by a 15% margin in 2002.
  • With Noem and Sutton as the major party nominees, South Dakota is virtually certain to elect a farmer or rancher as governor for the first time since Archie Gubbrud in 1960 and 1962.
  • An earlier post looked at historical milestones Kristi Noem could achieve.

Here are two county maps of Noem’s win. The first is comparable to the maps since 1978 that are here, which simply show which counties Noem and Jackley won. The second shows Noem’s strength by county – her strongest performance was in Douglas County and that southeast/central area was her strongest generally.

2018 REP Noem Jackley

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