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Aberdeen Paper Digs Referenda, Gets Vote Predictions Backwards

The Aberdeen American News weighs in with an editorial seemingly cheering the referral of the youth minimum wage and the incumbent protection plan to the November 2016 ballot. The paper seems pleased that voters will have a chance to make their voices heard. However, the paper weighs in with fuzzy predictions that seem to differ from my own assessment of how these referred laws will fare with voters.

(Reminder, since this confuses voters every time: Voting Yes on a referred law means voting for the law to take effect. Voting No means you think the Legislature passed a bad law and you don’t want it to take effect.)

On the youth minimum wage, now known as Referred Law 20, AAN ventures its early prediction that “Everyone in the state will enjoy a higher minimum wage after November 2016.” This statement somewhat misrepresents the measure: if voters reject Referred Law 20, they won’t be raising the minimum wage for anyone; they’ll be keeping it at the level voters deemed appropriate in 2014. Voting for Referred Law 20 cuts the minimum wage.

The AAN’s prediction may also misread the electorate: given my conversations with hundreds of voters around Aberdeen, I would predict that not everyone who voted to increase the minimum wage for everyone in 2014 thinks that kids deserve the same minimum wage as adults. Securing a majority No vote on Referred Law 20 will require winning votes from folks who may not like paying kids $8.50 an hour plus an annual cost-of-living adjustment but who place greater priority on knocking RL 20 sponsor Sen. David Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) and the Legislature down a peg for overturning the will of the people expressed in the 2014 minimum-wage vote. AAN agrees that Senator Novstrup got it wrong: “Novstrup tried to interpret the meaning of what voters wanted in 2014, when their vote couldn’t have been more clear.” Now we have to convince the voters that Novstrup’s wrongness warrants their No vote.

On the incumbent protection plan, now known as Referred Law 19, AAN says bringing the measure to the ballot “is a good thing. But will it resonate with voters in 2016?” The antecedent of AAN’s pronoun it is unclear. If the antecedent is “let[ting] other voices be heard,” then of course “it” will resonate. People dig voting, and they dig being trusted to vote. If the antecedent is Referred Law 19, then of course “it” will not resonate. Voters can recognize as easily as the editors that Referred Law 19 is “an effort by our state’s Republican majority to stop the one way non-Republicans have to affect [sic] change.” (AAN meant “effect change,” as in “make change come about.”)

AAN’s question mark on the vote on Referred Law 19 suggests they aren’t as sure about voter opposition to the incumbent protection plan as they are about voter opposition to the youth minimum wage. I would challenge the AAN’s shaky predictions with these numbers: if the election were held today, voters would shoot down Referred Law 19, the incumbent protection plan, with a 70% No vote. Referred Law 20, the youth minimum wage, stands at a dead heat, 50–50. The No vote for both measures will increase the more the proponents of those bills open their mouths.

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p.s.: The AAN editorial says that “Several petitions were submitted to the secretary of state’s office…” then invites us to “look at three of those petitions, two that succeeded and one that failed.” These statements incorrectly imply that more than three petitions were submitted. The Secretary of State received only two petitions last week (and I still contend “two” ≠ “several“). The third referendum petition, on HB 1179’s expansion of the definition of veteran, was not submitted.


  1. larry kurtz 2015-07-05 11:02

    Gee, if only there were reasons for young people to turn out in droves.

  2. Lynn 2015-07-05 11:58


    What are those reasons that seem to be overlooked that will motivate these young people to turn out in droves? What will finally help give the South Dakota Democratic Party the keys to the store?

  3. Ray Tysdal 2015-07-05 14:20

    Multiple Choice Question:
    What do young people in South Dakota do in droves? a) Attend the state “B” basketball tournament b) Party c) Leave the state seeking opportunity

  4. larry kurtz 2015-07-05 14:52

    Hey, Ray, you forgot: support d) legal cannabis e) school loan reform f) a $15/hour minimum wage.

  5. leslie 2015-07-05 14:58

    g.) democratic politics

  6. Donald Pay 2015-07-05 15:13

    Ray brings up an important point. Young folks spend a lot of money locally, and they really do make or break many local businesses. Maybe young folks could use their economic power to reward the owners and managers of businesses that endorse a “No” vote on Referred Law 20.

    And as for the campaign, I would like to see young folks take a leading role in the effort. Many high school debaters could face down most of those legislators and lobbyists, and it would be great to see students take part in civics, rather than being threatened with a Legislature-mandated standardized test on the subject.

  7. Lynn 2015-07-05 15:13


    I see SDWC has Elle Spawn featured being endorsed by Ryan Gaddy pro-pot activist and asks that his SDAP support her based on her supposed support to legalize Marijuana here in SD. Is SDWC warning those who plan to run in District 12 that they will be at a severe disadvantage now and to really need worry and work even harder to keep District 12 with the SDGOP?

  8. larry kurtz 2015-07-05 15:15

    Pat is addicted to food and porn: why should we take anything he says seriously?

  9. Lynn 2015-07-05 15:25

    but any candidate that campaigns to legalize pot will be an automatic win driven by a revolution of youth voters right Larry? It will be Cannabis Cup/land of milk & honey every day for the Dems after the revolution right?

  10. larry kurtz 2015-07-05 15:27

    yes, and yes.

  11. Lynn 2015-07-05 15:27


  12. larry kurtz 2015-07-05 15:30

    South Dakota is fat, drunken and depressive while Colorado and Oregon boast the most fit residents in the US.

  13. leslie 2015-07-05 16:22

    (but, republican 892,000) colo. residents vs. 954,000 dems.

  14. Bob Newland 2015-07-05 18:50

    Leslie, young folks couldn’t give less of a shit about “Democratic politics.” No one under the age of 25 even knows what “Democratic politics” means. A majority of those over 25 don’t either.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-05 22:13

    Bob, if we want voters to understand the practical impacts of Democratic politics versus Republican politics in South Dakota, we need to focus their attention on Referred Laws 19 and 20.

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