Independents have outnumbered Democrats and outnumbered Republicans in every regular Gallup political affiliation poll since the beginning of 2013.
Such is far from the case in South Dakota. Since 2006, Republicans have always outnumbered Democrats, and Democrats have always outnumbered independents.
But the Democratic party label is currently less popular among registrants than party-independence in eleven counties. Independents aren’t a majority anywhere, but the independent margin over Democrats is greater than 5% of the registered electorate in five counties: Butte, Union, Pennington, Fall River, and Meade. Custer’s indy-over-Dems margin is 4.99%. The indy/Dem margins in Lawrence, Lincoln, Brookings, Jones, and Custer are less than 3% of the registered electorate.
Those eleven counties where indies outnumber Dems include 36.57% of South Dakota’s registered voters.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in eleven counties, mostly predominantly American Indian counties. Democrats hold majorities in five counties: Oglala Lakota, Todd, Buffalo, Dewey, and Ziebach. The Dems-over-GOP margin is 20.39% in Corson and 14.80% in Roberts. That happy margin is less than 5% in Clay, Bennett, Day, and Marshall.
Those eleven Dems-on-top counties make up just 7.69% of South Dakota’s registered electorate.
Oglala Lakota and Todd are the only two counties in which independents outnumber Republicans.
Registered Republicans are the largest party in 55 of our 66 counties and make up a majority of the electorate in 37 of our 66 counties constituting 28.63% of the electorate. Two counties, Campbell and Harding, are over 80% Republican. Haakon, Douglas, Potter, Jones, and McPherson are over 70% Republican.
The most closely matched counties on a purely partisan basis are Day, Marshall, and Moody, where the electorate-percentage difference between the two major parties is less than one percentage point. If we assume that independents are truly distinct voters and not just voters keeping their real affiliation quiet, the most evenly matched county is Clay, which is the only county where the electorate-percentage margin between Dems and GOPers, Dems and indies, and indies and GOPers are all in the single digits (Dems 37.99%, GOP 33.00%, indies 28.39%).
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