When a Governor has made two different groups mad enough to spend money on billboards criticizing her more than a year before the election, she may be electoral trouble.
Last weekend, family and friends of National Guard members rented billboard space in Rapid City to protest Governor Kristi Noem’s pimping out our National Guard for an ideological photo opp at the border. I hear those same folks have put up the same billboard this week in Sioux Falls around 41st and Louise. Now it appears another group has lodged another billboard protest against Noem on another issue across town at 14th and Cliff:
More South Dakotans voted for marijuana than for Kristi Noem—true! In 2020, 291,754 South Dakotans voted for Initiated Measure 26 to legalize medical marijuana and 225,260 South Dakotans voted for Amendment A to constitutionalize recreational marijuana and industrial hemp. In 2018, the last time Kristi Noem faced the voters, 172,912 South Dakotans voted for her to become Governor.
Of course, 2020 and 2018 were different elections. 2020 was a Presidential election so more South Dakotans turned out to vote, making a straight numerical comparison somewhat unfair. But even on percentages, the billboard’s claim holds up: IM 26 got 69.92% of the 2020 vote and Amendment A got 54.18%, while Noem barely won the 2018 election with 50.97% of the vote.
Noem did get more votes than Amendment A once, in 2016, when she won reëlection to Congress over Paula Hawks with 237,163 votes. She also beat Amendment A’s percentage three times, in 2016 (66.5%), 2014 (57.4%), and 2012 (57.4%).
Noem and marijuana have been up for votes at the same election just once, in 2010, when Noem first ran for Congress and Initiated Measure 13 offered us medical marijuana. That year, Noem got more votes than marijuana: while Noem ousted Stephanie Herseth Sandlin from Congress with 153,703 votes (48.12%), medical marijuana drew only 115,667 votes (36.69%). But the 2010 election was a whole different time, with Noem riding her horsegirl looks and the angry white backlash against President Obama to Congress and the national retreat from the war on reefer just beginning. And vote tallies from long past elections don’t amount to a hill of beans next to the tallies from the most recent elections establishing current mandates.
The 14th and Cliff billboard is thus correct: according to recent electoral history, marijuana is more popular in South Dakota than Kristi Noem. Or to paraphrase one Tweeter, South Dakotans prefer pot to dopes.
I am trying to track down the buyers of the billboard. The claimer at bottom left appears to read “Paid for by Greens for a Better South Dakota,” but that “Greens” is unclear in this photo. No group with a similar name has filed a communication expenditure disclosure with the Secretary of State.