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GOP Above 48% of SD Electorate; Dems Below 28%

Blue wave? Not in South Dakota. According to the Secretary of State’s voter registration data, Republicans continue to claim larger percentages of the South Dakota electorate while Democrats continue to lose their share.

As of October 1, Republicans had increased their share of the registered electorate to 48.01%. Democrats dropped below 28% of the electorate for the first time in August; the Dem share now is 27.65%. Those are the highest GOP percentage and the lowest Dem percentage posted in the past fourteen years. The GOP was at 47.34% for the 2006 general election; Dems were at 37.64%.

Both parties have added voters to the rolls since last year, but Republicans have swamped Democrats in gains: compared to last October, there are 12,993 more registered Republicans and only 145 more registered Democrats. That’s a 5.03% gain for the GOP and a 0.09% gain for Dems.

3,954 more South Dakotans have registered as independents since last October, making a 3.04% increase in indy numbers. However, since 75% of the new registrants added over the past twelve months have put R on their registration forms, the indy share of the electorate has remained mostly stable since last year, hovering around the current 23.73%.

Compared to early October 2016, South Dakota Republicans have swelled their ranks 9.37%, while Democrats have shed 7.71%. Independents have gained 16.76% over four years.

Libertarians have expanded their ranks by 41.36% since October 2016. In September they exceeded 2,000 registered South Dakotans for the first time in the past decade. Their October 1 count was 2,136.



  1. Jenny 2020-10-16 10:02

    SDs Democrats usually move out of state to places in the country that are more progressive and openminded. I am sure it must not be very fun to be a transgendered man or woman in SD where every year in Pierre you’re targeted for hate bills whereas if you move one state over to MN, there are many more safe guards against LGBTQ harassment and hate.

    THE SD GOP can gloat all they want but underneath their GOP pride, they know they are losing good decent hardworking people that would like to stay but don’t feel very welcomed.

  2. JB 2020-10-16 10:45

    Some more liberal or democrat minded voters register Republican so they can have an actual voice in the process, particularly in the Republican primaries since those elections are more likely to decide the SD representative since Republicans always win. At least that was my reason for switching to the Republican party this year….not because I support Republicans, but so I have an actual voice in the Rep primary.

    And I totally agree with Jenny’s comment. I know many personal friends from SD from college who are brilliant but will never move back here, specifically because of politics and backwards thinking that is 40 or more years outdated and failing SD farmers each generation.

  3. o 2020-10-16 10:49

    So the party of 49% registered support have 84% of the state House seats, 85% of the house Senate seats, 100% of the Governor (OK that one is tough to slit), 100% of National representatives.

  4. David Newquist 2020-10-16 11:30

    Jenny describes a demographic trend that was studied some years ago. A study for academic recruitment revealed two waves of outmigration in South Dakota students. The first wave was at high school graduation when a significant number of students left the state to attend college elsewhere. The second was at college graduation when young people left the state to pursue careers. The constant factor behind the outmigration was people looking for more progressive social and cultural opportunities.

  5. chris 2020-10-16 12:14

    i guess i dont mind if all the kristi kritters in texas register their Rv’s here so they can all vote for her if it means Texas goes blue.

  6. jason 2020-10-16 13:02

    The South Dakota Democratic Party needs to focus on working class issues and distance itself from the corruption of the DNC. We need more Louise Snodgrass and less Nancy Pelosi.

  7. o 2020-10-16 13:34

    Jason, would you level that same criticism for SD GOP? Or is being deaf to SD issues and good soldiers in the national social war a smart play for GOP politicians?

  8. Moses6 2020-10-16 16:19

    yes if you can move out of state go, better wages and better benefits.we lose great teachers out of state to everyone.

  9. TAG 2020-10-16 16:42

    from o: “So the party of 49% registered support have 84% of the state House seats, 85% of the house Senate seats, 100% of the Governor…”

    Yeah, I think that part of the problem is our voting system. non-proportional representation tends to amplify the dominance of the majority party. If we kept the same district lines, but changed our voting for the State House to Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) you would see a more proportional number of State representatives. (The Senate would still be what it is)

    Over time, liberals tend to start affiliating as Independents in the current system. The same is true for conservatives in places like California and New England. We’d all be better off with less disenfrancisement, IMO.

  10. TAG 2020-10-16 17:20

    Perfect example is right here in District 12 (SW Sioux Falls). A better indicator of the actual % of Dems is how we vote. State Senator Blake Curd (R) won with 50.12% of the vote over Kasey Olivier (D) with 49.88%. That’s basically a 50/50 split of the electorate.

    Then you look at the two at-large house seats from this district, and they are both held by Republicans that won with similarly small margins (Steele and Beal).

    It’s possible that the electorate is actually more of a 55R/ 45D split than 50/50, but Olivier over-performed. Either way, with RCV, or another proportional voting system, you’d be pretty likely to have one from each party winning in most years. Much more fair.

    Now amplify this accross all the districts, and you’d likely have 40% of the House as Dems, rather than 15%. Proportional to your electorate.

  11. leslie 2020-10-16 18:21

    DNC corruption, Jason. Link????

  12. Debbo 2020-10-16 21:30

    The Roger Cornelius Memorial Cartoon by Marty Two Bulls.

    (That adorable little white boy Kenosha killer.)

  13. Jon H 2020-10-16 22:03

    Less then 50% of South Dakota is Republican. Maybe the majority 52% can come together to make South Dakota a better place to live for all its citizens!

  14. Debbo 2020-10-16 22:04

    I’d love to see the Democrats pass a law next year taking redistricting completely out of the state legislatures’ hands. Build an algorithm that takes into account the required demographic factors, then require all states to use it.

  15. leslie 2020-10-17 03:51

    In other red states:

    “most of Texas’s 17 million registered voters (including this one) *aren’t* legally allowed to vote by mail—because Republican politicians convinced Republican judges that COVID isn’t a good enough reason for being allowed to vote remotely.” @steve_vladeck

  16. Lynette 2020-10-17 08:51

    I will be encouraging my 2 straight A GPA STEM daughters to leave SD when they graduate for this very reason. I thought it was enough to get away from my small town but even the bigger towns in SD are full of bullying Republicans. It is stifling to one’s spirit.

  17. bearcreekbat 2020-10-17 15:50

    While it is understandable why some might encourage bright young people to leave the State, another option might be to stay and use that talent in an effort to change SD’s politics for the better. If we don’t have young folks that will make the effort to improve the State, nothing will change. It seems we are pretty close to the bottom by now.

    It is a truism that politics swings like a pendulum and it would seem that the pendulum may well be ready to swing back in a more positive direction. History teaches us that this has happened in SD, with Governor Kneip, Senators Abourezk, Johnson and Daschle, and Representatives Denholm and Herseth from the early 1970’s through the first half of this 21st century. Today, Trump may well be the stimulus for a 180 degree swing of the political pendulum back to a positive direction.

    I suspect, but have not seen studies about this, that a large percentage of SD voters that continue to vote against the interest of the people of SD as well as against their own personal interests, are likely members of SD’s older, politically naïve, generations. The influence from these older sheeple has the potential to dissipate as they die off and as SD’s young people transition into adulthood. Moreover, most young people seem to be more often affected by the attitudes of their peers, especially the bright kids they look up to, than by older generations. If these kids abandon SD, who does that leave to educate and make a positive, progressive impression on young voters coming of age that remain in the State?

    Indeed, there are also personal advantages to staying in SD and working to effectuate positive political change. SD is a pretty small pond and that makes it possible for young leaders to grow into much bigger fish, rather than languish in the swamps of a major city. It seems to me young adults might actually be better off if they decide to stay in SD and improve the State rather than to leave and get lost in a crowd.

  18. mike from iowa 2020-10-17 16:42

    How did Marlboro Barbie get the number 2 spot in the wingnut party? He brings nada to the table as a fundraiser or as an orator. He doesn’t inspire greatness. He stands around behind McCTurtlefartface and suck wind and smile.

  19. Lynette 2020-10-17 17:10

    You make an excellent point. However, my personal history living and working here has made me cynical. I am not sure I can stand to watch it drain my children’s spirit as well. It might be the exhaustion of the last few years, but I have watched people I used to respect become unreasonable about basic science. It’s like if they admit to believing science, their whole belief system will collapse.
    Thank you for responding with some real thoughtful ideas.

  20. bearcreekbat 2020-10-17 19:12

    Cynicism seems an appropriate response to Republican public policies in SD over the last few years, especially the stupidest and most mean spirited policies Republicans actually adopted, let alone the repeated nonsense that some proposed that didn’t make it into law.

    One particularly troubling example has been the Republican refusal of the ACA Medicaid expansion that would have helped so many lower income South Dakotans and would have cost the State zero tax dollars for the first 3 years, while bringing in millions of federal dollars. Those funds would have paid for salaries, rent, mortgages, food, utilities, etc, because the new money would have been spent over and over again as it repeatedly passed through the hands of our residents, giving the State an incredible humanitarian and economic boost.

    And today Republicans elected to office (I almost called them leaders, but that term doesn’t really seem to apply any more) can’t see their way to correct that mistake even though the federal government still covers 90% of the cost.

    It seems reasonable to conclude that this rejection, which unquestionably harmed low income individuals as well as the State as a whole, somehow benefited those Republicans choosing such a bad public policy, either economically, or in some other way, perhaps politically in the national Republican party. My guess is that money was the ultimate anticipated reward for harming the State.

    The bottom line is that SD desperately needs bright young people willing to push that pendulum the other direction until we see real change here. This may be a difficult job, but somebody has got to do it and young people seem to SD’s best hope.

  21. robbinsdale radical 2020-10-17 22:29

    What’s especially maddening about this is if we passed a Medicaid expansion referendum (like the one in Oklahoma) the Legislature would just overturn it, as they do any referendum they don’t like (remember the anti-lobbying referendum)? We also tried a redistricting referendum in 2018, that went nowhere.

    Now with all these self-proclaimed freedom lovers coming to South Dakota because they love Noem so much, the argument for young people to stay here is getting thinner every year. (This is my 25th year in South Dakota, it seems to slide more into the dark every year.)

  22. robbinsdale radical 2020-10-17 22:35

    Case in point, look at the District 35 candidates. Two well-educated professionals and two absolute yahoos with no education and (yes I’ll say it) stupid, backward ideas, most of which so stupid and backward they don’t even get a vote when they manage to put a bill together (with lots of editing help from the LRC). Guess which party each pair belong to, and which have a chance of being elected. Being Rapid City, I know three of these four personally and it just makes me sick that the two R incumbents are wasting our tax dollars taking up space in Pierre.

  23. jerry 2020-10-18 00:04

    In South Dakota, the intent of the so called legislature is to further the cause of autocracy, certainly not democracy. When you look at autocracy, what you really see is a pattern of corruption from the top down. Here is someone who had enough. When will South Dakota realize that the covid they take for granted, is the chaos that makes autocracy work. That billion and change, is actually taxpayer money, but it doesn’t matter in an autocracy, as long as they and their ilk eat the fatted calf.

    Think we can get help from the Department of Justice? Nope. Take a look at our Attorney General, not a real prosecutor or even a real lawyer, only a bureaucrat. That is what a state like South Dakota brings for leadership, none. Just empty suits that push through whatever the hell it is that ALEC or the Koch Brothers want them to pass. Toss in some big oil money to smoke the place up with EPA deregulation and you have what we have.

    “After all, Barr has never actually investigated, charged or tried a case. He’s a well-trained bureaucrat but has no actual experience as a prosecutor.

    South Dakota republicans have proven (Butina, the red sparrow) their love for the money and their ability to accept corruption even from the Russians. They have zero desire to govern and are only in it for the ALEC money.

    Those two fascist bobbleheads from District 35 prove the point Robbinsdale. How in the hell did they get elected in the first place. One thing for sure, their challengers would bring a lot more to the table at a time when we really need help. The bottom is falling out of this sick economy while we have no direction in Pierre on how to handle it. Hospitals are full and getting fuller from the trump virus along with many out of work.

    Winter is coming folks and there is no wood for the fire, unless we toss the garbage out of District 35 and every other district that brings these failures to Pierre. These duds make the laws that go against everything that makes economic sense, all under the disguise of being Christians, what fakes. Christ took care of the poor and the lame, not these guys, they relish seeing it.

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