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Dems Shedding Voters; Primary Not Driving Registration

…but a Schoenbeck Surge for Jackley in District 5?

The latest voter registration figures show no “Blue Wave” or much of any other wave in anticipation of South Dakota’s primary:

SD Voter Registration May 2016–May 2018
Data source: South Dakota Secretary of State’s office, updated 2018.05.01.

Total registration showed a net April increase of 1,289 voters, 0.24%. Republicans and independents each increased just under half a percentage point, while Democrats lost another 0.30%. But since the November 2016 general election, we’ve shed 15,681 voters. Since Trump’s election, Democrats have seen 13,534 voters (7.93%) step away or be scrubbed from their rolls; Republicans have lost 4,880 (1.94%). Independents have gained 2,710 (2.28%), but most of that gain happened before September 2017, since which time indy registration has mostly flattened out.

Since January 1, the Democratic share of the statewide electorate has dropped from 30.23% to 29.72%. The Republican share has increased from 46.40% to 46.76%. The independent share has increased from 22.82% to 22.96%.

25 out of our 35 Legislative districts have seen voter registration increase since January 1. The champs for those increases are District 33 (+296), District 6 (+290), and District 29 (+264). However, the ten districts that lost voters lost much bigger: Districts 15, 14, and 11, all in Sioux Falls, each dropped more than 500 voters.

Nineteen Legislative districts have at least one primary for House or Senate, but those June votes don’t appear to be driving voter registration. Republican registration is up since January 1 in 26 districts. While Republican registration is up in 64% of the districts with Republican primaries, it’s up in 81% of the districts with no Republican primary. Democrats managed to increase registration in only 4 districts (in 6, 7, 32, and 33), and none of those districts have primaries. The two districts with Democratic double features, primaries for House and Senate, Districts 1 and 27, have lost 74 and 85 Democratic voters, respectively.

Primary in Legislative District: Yes No
GOP registration up 9 17
GOP registration down 5 4
Dem registration up 0 4
Dem registration down 5 26

So much for primaries driving voter registration.

If any primary is breaking the apparent non-correlation and getting voters to sign up, that marquee race may be the District 5 GOP Senate primary between Byron Callies and Lee Schoenbeck. District 5 Republicans have posted the biggest increase for any district and major party affiliation by number (255) and by percentage (3.9%) this year.

And if that District 5 GOP surge happens to consist of a preponderance of Watertown conservatives drawn in by Schoenbeck’s charm and personality, and if the gubernatorial race is close, and if those new Republicans listen to Schoenbeck when he says, “Can Kristi; party with Marty!”, that Schoenbeck surge could erode Noem’s support in her backyard and ensure Jackley’s nomination.


  1. mike fom iowa 2018-05-06 13:22

    It isn’t like other “red states” haven’t improvised ways to suppress Dem voters and votes.

    The state of South Dakota is not nationally recognized as a diligent watchdog government or aggressive in house prosecutor of political criminal acts.

    Being a rural state with many ranchers, SD’s political powers that be are adept at locating and closing gates once the animals have fled.

    One last thing, we need much more political discourse to dry the fields and my garden. It is into May and I have virtually no garden planted due to wetness.

    Nationally, the few cases of voter fraud found have been overwhelmingly wingnut perps.

  2. jerry 2018-05-06 14:37

    Interesting what you are saying about dry fields mfi. Just after the big April blizzard, near Miller, South Dakota, the fields were blowing so much dust that there were some car accidents due to black out. Do any of the Red Wave have any kinds of suggestions on how to deal with another Dust Bowl, or are we still gonna be discussing abortions and potty bills?

  3. jerry 2018-05-06 15:42

    NAFTA talks will continue tomorrow. I’m sure they will be as successful as the trade talks with China went. So what happens if there is no agreement or if there is one and there is not time to ratify it? No more NAFTA, I am not sure how that will play to the voters here in South Dakota, but my guess is this, they may not change registration, but they damn sure will change their voting habits.

  4. mike fom iowa 2018-05-06 16:21

    I got some garden tilled today, finally Jerry. I will plant spuds tomorrow- nearly a month behind normal planting time. We had a foot of snow 2 weeks ago and 2-3 inches of rain this past week. Asparagus finally came up April 30th.

  5. Buckobear 2018-05-06 18:11

    Imagine that the Democratic “shedding” may be cross-overs to vote R.
    Granted, we do need to get out OUR vote come November ….. let tge Rs eat their own during the Primary.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-06 19:08

    Buckobear, I went to the voter registration numbers specifically looking for that possibility. But by the Legislative district numbers, the statewide change from January 1 through May 4 was +2,106 Republicans, –2,800 Democrats, and +688 independents. Sure, some of the R+ and D– could be crossovers—I know a handful locally who’ve claimed that’s why they are switching—but neither the statewide numbers nor the numbers from districts with Legislative primaries show any clear tendency in that direction.

    We can test the crossover hypothesis by looking for some unusual Dem bump after the primary… but that phenomenon would also be confounded by a good voter registration push by the party over the summer and fall.

    Multiple Facebook commenters suggest a major factor is not people leaving the Democratic Party but leaving South Dakota.

  7. grudznick 2018-05-06 19:43

    Yes. Facebook commenters are sure to be right. Have they ever not? I say, the Democratic party is slowly strangulating itself to death. A shame, really, from the good old days of the ’50s. Don’t let this distract that we need to stymie the population growth and encourage people to leave South Dakota.

  8. Mark Young 2018-05-06 20:17

    Krebs scrubbing project was aimed to reduce Democratic numbers and succeeded. Were the criteria ever made public?

  9. grudznick 2018-05-06 20:35

    Mr. Young, we should assume that Mr. Gant’s book keeping was atrocious and he was sloppy in his diligence to clean up the lists. Young Ms. Krebs’ efforts to square things away are touted by her. She touts them in her commercials, I am sure.

  10. jerry 2018-05-07 01:19

    Cory, this last sentence of yours “Multiple Facebook commenters suggest a major factor is not people leaving the Democratic Party but leaving South Dakota.” speaks volumes about the “Russian Red Wave” that Jackley/NOem/Krebs speak of. No one is leaving the Democratic party, these citizens are leaving the state of South Dakota too like thinking places that offer opportunity and advancement. While “Russian Red Wave” thinkers are still plowing the fields behind oxen flatulence along with the stink of CAFO’s, our young folks are heading the greener pastures that smell of progress.

  11. OldSarg 2018-05-07 05:25

    Face it guys, it is the relentless media, Mueller attack and democratic calls for impeachment that is driving the move towards the republicans. people are switching not because they align “with” republicans but rather “against” the elites. It’s not about trade, sex with porn stars, a rising economy or a tax cut. It is the continuous non-stop droning on about impeachment of a duly elected president whether you like him or not.

    Now, I understand none of you consider yourselves “elite” but you, much like the preverbal lemmings, are following them to your demise.

  12. Dicta 2018-05-07 08:42

    Say what you want about the GOP, but they understand how galvanizing a base works. Sure, they frequently lie to do it and demonize certain groups in terrible ways, but they get how to consolidate power. Dems are too busy tearing each other apart as “not liberal” enough and decry moderates as having inexplicable center-left faith in wonkish uber-rational incrementalist reforms that can be undone by the next piece of trash who takes the levers of power. While true in some ways, it’s also a race to the bottom.

    Old sarg: this article by Cory is about South Dakota. The GOP is likely to lose the house in DC. It’s also kinda bizarre that you decry the “elites” when the Chimp running the show had gold plated everything and declared corporate bankruptcy on at least 4 occasions, saddling local taxpayers with a truckload of fiscal damage. But yeah, he’s got the back of the common man. Cool story.

  13. mike fom iowa 2018-05-07 11:57

    Say what you want about the GOP, but they understand how … suppress the votes of likely Democrat voters and keep at it no matter how many times the courts rule against them.

    They also drag out wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage, even though a majority of Americans are okay with both.

    Wingnuts can’t see corruption in their midst but they sure can conjure up alleged corruption in the opposition partys.

  14. dave 2018-05-07 14:23

    Its a couple of races in Codington driving the switch over… Sheriff and County Commissioner.. people want to vote in the primary.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-07 17:44

    That’s an interesting hypothesis, Dave. Have you heard people talking about switching to GOP for that reason?

    I check the data on sheriff’s races—and darn it! I haven’t tracked changes by county, just statewide and by legislative district—and find that increases in GOP registration do correlate somewhat (r = 0.4999) with having a deciding GOP sheriff’s primary.

    There are 13 counties where the sheriff will be decided at the primary solely by Republican voters. There is only one county—Oglala Lakota—where Democrats and independents pick the sheriff.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-07 18:47

    republicans don’t need to send out emails that lie to their constituents, although they most likely do, all they need to do is read Trump’s Tweets and listen to him rant to get their daily dose of lies.
    Trump’s documented lies are now at 3001 and counting.

  17. Jason 2018-05-08 07:47

    A new CNN poll reveals more Americans now think the country is doing well than at any point during President Barack Obama’s entire eight years in office.

    The poll, conducted by SSRS, found that 57 percent of Americans believe that the country is doing well under President Donald Trump, which is higher than any point throughout Obama’s presidency.

    The percentage who think things are going well is up from 49 percent in February and is higher than at any point since January of 2007, two years before Obama took office.

    CNN mentioned that “almost 6 in 10 say things in the country are going well” in the opening paragraph of the poll writeup, but waited until the fourth paragraph to share that the number was higher than any of the times recorded during Obama’s tenure. Instead, CNN first noted that Trump’s approval rating is holding steady at 41 percent but that support for Trump on the issues is slowly climbing.

    The vast improvement in the percentage of Americans who think the country is doing well is largely attributed to Democrats. Only 25 percent of Democrats said things were going well in February, while 40 percent said the same in March.

  18. OldSarg 2018-05-08 08:15

    “Boring—OS knows nothing about South Dakota politics” Cory, decisions to what party one belongs or remains in is not state dependent. It is information dependent. You can cry all day long that people align based upon their state political issues but South Dakota issues are not that significant in our lives.

  19. dave 2018-05-08 08:46

    Yes, i have talked to 4 people who are switching just to vote in the primary…

  20. Dicta 2018-05-08 09:21

    Old sarge wrote: ““Boring—OS knows nothing about South Dakota politics” Cory, decisions to what party one belongs or remains in is not state dependent. It is information dependent.”

    This is what is called a false dilemma. You consistently post stupid stuff and should feel bad.

  21. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 09:27

    The CNN poll shows Trump approval rating at only 41% overall while 53% disapprove of Trump. That is significant.
    When quotes aren’t used in commenting it is plagiarizing the work of another. Melenia Trump was caught plagiarizing a 2014 President Obama era work, using verbatim whole paragraphs of a Federal Trade Commission booklet for her new “Be Best” campaign.

  22. Craig 2018-05-08 15:25

    “Face it guys, it is the relentless media, Mueller attack and democratic calls for impeachment that is driving the move towards the republicans.”

    Nonsense. The media has been reporting just as they have always done. There is no need for anyone in the media to sensationalize Trump’s words or actions considering the things he does and the words coming out of his mouth are far more unbelievable than most people could imagine. Can you imagine the outrage from the right if President Obama had cheated on his wife with a porn star, attempted to obstruct justice via Twitter, or bragged about committing sexual assault?

    As far as the “Mueller attack” it sounds like you’ve fallen for the Trump talking points of this being a witch hunt. Perhaps you would be better off getting your facts from reputable sources rather than Trump’s twitter feed. In case you aren’t aware, Mueller is a Republican appointed as special counsel by a Republican Deputy AG who was in turn nominated by a Republican President. Also keep in mind that in the 14 months since this investigation started, there have been 23 indictments and 5 convictions (and rising). Compare this to something like the Benghazi investigations that spanned four years and resulted in 0 indictments. Or what about the Kenneth Starr investigation which was something like four and a half years? Yet all we hear from the far-right talking heads is how Mueller is taking too long and how the investigation needs to end. That is incredibly telling… just as it is when someone refers to Mueller’s investigation as an “attack”. The cognitive dissonance has reached peak levels indeed.

    Finally, if calls for impeachment drew people to the opposing party, we should have witnessed a mass influx of new Democrats during Obama’s two terms in office considering there were calls to impeach him as early as 2010 all the way through 2016 (none of which had any merit).

    What is more likely impacting voter registrations is Democrats becoming disenfranchised with the political process and younger generations not feeling the need to associate with a specific political party. Couple that with the growing number of South Dakota voters who claim residency at a few select Campgrounds and PO Boxes in the state which are overwhelmingly elderly, upper-middle class white transplants from other states and it isn’t surprising to see the GOP numbers growing.

    Sadly there is also the fair-weather fan mentality which tends to push people to the winning team if for no other reason than that’s who keeps winning so it can’t hurt right? Although I’m convinced the only reason GOP registrations continue to grow is a byproduct of our state underfunding education for the past 30 years. After all… an ignorant population is a lot more likely to not engage in critical thinking. Don’t consider that an insult however – it’s just science.

    There are a lot of theories, but backlash against Mueller or the media are perhaps the most pathetic excuses I’ve heard to date.

  23. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 15:37

    Excellent link, I just scanned it, but will go back and read it.
    What I have incredible with all the attacks on Mueller is the number of people that attribute supposedly direct quotes from him.
    Mueller hasn’t had a press conference, been interviewed by any media or responded to Trump on Twitter or Facebook, I don’t know what Mueller sounds like. Leaks coming from his office are unheard of.
    Trump supporters are simply repeating what Trump tells them; “no collusion”, “witch hunt”, “waste of taxpayer money”, etc. Trump’s indoctrination of his “poorly educated” voters is nearly complete.

  24. mike fom iowa 2018-05-08 15:55

    There has been a constant, thirty year campaign against HRC that the media and stoopid wingnuts never get tired of.

    I seriously doubt there is any “fatigue” setting in with wingnuts about the bad press on Drumpf. Drumpf is his and America’s own worst enemy.

  25. Donald Pay 2018-05-08 16:35

    Wisconsin election statistics don’t track party registration, because our primary system allows voters to select the party they are voting in at the time of the primary. You do that at the polls. This allows independents, Republicans, Democrats and all others to vote in the party primary of their choice on the day of the primary. If you cross parties on primary ballots, however, you ballot is not counted.

  26. Porter Lansing 2018-05-08 17:38

    Old Sarge works for Putin and follows his playbook. i.e. “Get Americans attacking other Americans.”
    Since social media cracked down on Russian operatives on Facebook and Twitter these operatives have turned to less secure and vetted sources to inject propaganda into the minds of the gullible. There are a thousand operatives working for the FSB (ФСБ) Federal Security Service targeting social media in USA. At least five are assigned to South Dakota political blogs. Sarge and Jason/KM are highly involved.

  27. Porter Lansing 2018-05-08 17:44

    @Craig … “Although I’m convinced the only reason GOP registrations continue to grow is a byproduct of our state underfunding education for the past 30 years. After all… an ignorant population is a lot more likely to not engage in critical thinking. Don’t consider that an insult however – it’s just science.”
    The ignorant population has also been created by the “liberal brain drain” of college graduates leaving the state for the last 70 years. This lack of young liberals raising kids in South Dakota has created a “gene pool of ignorance”, passed down to the children of the ignorant, which grow up to be Republicans.

  28. Jason 2018-05-08 18:03


    Please do tell us how the court case went last Friday?

  29. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 18:23

    Oh Oh!!!
    Trump and Cohen are in really big trouble tonight!!!

  30. Jason 2018-05-08 18:27

    What did Trump do Roger?

  31. OldSarg 2018-05-08 18:38

    Porter do you realize how stupid you sound to people when you tell others I work for Putin? You do this to everyone you disagree with. How many people do you think work for Putin anyway and how do you think Putin found me to hire me, LinkedIn? It’s just so stupid to even say such things. I don’t know, maybe you are bi-polar or something. You should see someone about your temper. . . It’s just weird.

  32. Porter Lansing 2018-05-08 18:59

    How stupid do I sound? You showed up here out of nowhere with no name and no background linking you to SoDak except some BS story about being at Ellsworth. Then you start to spew nonfactual Russian playbook stories at the exact same time the Russians on social media were purged. Tell us about yourself. You fit the profile, Comrade. As your mate Jason/Km would say, “Prove I’m wrong.” But, never mind. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the people who know you’re a phony.

  33. Porter Lansing 2018-05-08 19:07

    Roger … c’mon. It was only a half million bucks. Cohen and Trump aren’t in trouble. lol

  34. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 19:33

    It is only half a million Russian bucks, kind of a difference.
    How about that AT&T story buying White House influence?

  35. Porter Lansing 2018-05-08 19:56

    As Don the Con likes to say, Roger … “We’ll see.”
    Never a dull moment.
    BTW, Republicans. We’ll not attempt to impeach our President. True, dat. We don’t have the votes and America doesn’t need the pain. We’ve got an agenda that includes helping people not hurting the vulnerable. Impeachment would be a huge waste of time and resources.

  36. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 20:09


    True, impeachment would be a waste of time and resources.
    However, resignation maybe an option for Trump, Democrats don’t have to force him from office.
    There is just so much nasty adding up everyday, Trump’s options seem limited.

  37. Jason 2018-05-08 21:17


    I proved you are stupid. Please do keep posting though because I enjoy making you look stupid.

    The best part is I don’t have to do much to do it.

  38. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 21:32

    Trump is hell bent on hurting American children with his massive cuts to CHIP, the saddest part of these cuts is that Trumptard’s children are probably enrolled in the program, but they won’t care about their children’s health, there first priority is protecting Trump.

  39. Jason 2018-05-08 21:37


    Lies again by saying and I quote “hurting American children”.

    The truth:

    The request from President Donald Trump includes a $7 billion cut to the popular program, part of $15 billion in overall cuts. Some $2 billion would come from a contingency fund that was created to prevent states from running out of money, with the rest coming from funding that Congress has authorized for the program but states haven’t spent.
    The administration defended the cuts, telling reporters Monday the money would come from untapped leftover funds and wouldn’t affect operations at CHIP or in other health care areas.
    “This is money that was never going to be spent,” said one official.

    You are a fraud Roger.

  40. Porter Lansing 2018-05-08 21:40

    You got enough nuts to say that to my face, feces for brains? Name the place. I’ll take off your head and shove it up your ass.

  41. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 21:42

    As Jason continue to plagiarize verbatim whole paragraphs from CNN, the fact remains that Trump and Ryan will cut CHIP funding.

  42. leslie 2018-05-08 22:15

    RNC lies in every item in newsletter today:
    1. Thank Trump for tax “cuts”
    2. Dem’s war on highly-qualified women
    3. GOP Celebration of Asian Americans (while latin PR dies, and muslims are btw)
    4. President Trump is doing everything in his powers as commander in chief to secure our border until the wall is built.
    5. Iran agreement was built on the lies of a leading state sponsor of terrorism, preserving its nuclear capability and allowing the regime to build a nuclear weapon in several years.
    6. April, continuing President Trump’s “proven track record” of putting Americans back to work

  43. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-08 22:22

    Once again, Jason effectively lures everyone else into an off-topic discussion and insult-fest that will confuse and repel any reader who came expecting a discussion of South Dakota politics.


  44. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-08 22:50

    Roger didn’t gloss over anything, leslie is under no obligation to play by your rules on Dakota Free Press. It’s not your blog.

  45. Craig 2018-05-09 09:00

    Jason – I’m going to need a bit more detail since I have no idea which court case you are referring to. Care to share any details including how the case may pertain to my original comment?

  46. Robin 2018-05-29 22:02

    Give me another McGovern and I will become a democrat again until that day, I will remain independent- Pretty much sums up a lot of people regarding the Democrats in South Dakota

  47. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-30 18:39

    I’d like those people to tell me what another McGovern looks like… because, as Paula Hawks said at McGovern Day in 2016, George McGovern isn’t going to walk in the door and save us.

  48. grudznick 2018-05-30 20:09

    Mr. Lansing, Jason made you sing a tragedy long enough to turn you into Stace Nelson, only with an apron.

  49. T 2018-05-30 20:53

    Small communities have to jump ship on Democratic to republican to vote in their local elections if the6 want a say
    Because local elections r repub

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