Press "Enter" to skip to content

SD Dems Two Months Away from Falling to Third Place Behind Independents in Voter Registration

Whoever is running the South Democratic Party has until October to prevent Democrats from sinking to third place in voter registration.

According to the Secretary of State’s August 1 voter registration figures, 303,460 South Dakota voters are registered as Republicans, 150,918 are registered as Democrats, 150,109 are registered as independent or without party affiliation (which are effectively the same thing, since “independent” is not a political party, so why in July did Secretary of State Monae Johnson start reporting them separately?), 2,949 Libertarian, and 1,412 other. Republicans thus make up 49.85% of South Dakota’s electorate, Democrats 24.78%, and independents 24.65%.

The number of Republicans surpassed double the number of Democrats for the first time in recent in history in July. At Democrats’ numerical peak in July 2009, there were only 1.18 times as many Republicans as Democrats (242,774 GOP, 206,086 Dem, 86,398 ind).

South Dakota Democratic registration has shrunk by 5.07% over the last four years. Dem numbers are up 0.14% over the last twelve months, but over the last six months (since the election of new party leaders in February), Dem numbers have shrunk 0.35%.

Republican registration has posted four-year growth of 16.15%, twelve-month growth of 4.50%, and six-month growth of 1.39%.

Independent/NPA registration has posted four-year growth of 13.72%, twelve-month growth of 9.30%, and six-month growth of 2.17%.

Converting each of those growth rates to monthly rates and extrapolating, I calculate that independents will outnumber Democrats by October. Even if we use the rosiest number for Democrats, the 0.14% growth rate since August 2022, the independent growth rate over the same period is a far more robust 5.90%, so independents will catch up with and surpass Democrats.

To stay ahead of independents, a group with no one out actively targeting their registration, Democrats need to hit the fairs this month and register a few hundred new Democratic voters. To pull themselves back up to more than half the Republican registration numbers (assuming Republicans maintain their current growth rates), Democrats need to register not quite 2,000 new Dem voters. Democrats can improve their chances of reaching those goals by teaming up with the Dakotans for Health circulators who are petitioning for the initiatives to codify Roe v. Wade (which the state Democratic Party endorsed last summer) and to repeal the food tax (which is a longstanding Democratic policy proposal).

Registering voters at the fairs, circulating initiative petitions to promote direct democracy—gee, those activities sound a lot more fun and effective for preventing the embarrassment of ranking third in voter registration behind slime-encrusted Republicans and completely disorganized independents than squabbling over who gets to be state party chair and executive director.


  1. P. Aitch 2023-08-04 07:46

    The term “unaffiliated” is sometimes seen as more attractive than “independent” as a political label for a few reasons:

    1. Neutrality and autonomy: “Unaffiliated” signifies a lack of alignment with any specific political party. This can be appealing to individuals who want to distance themselves from the partisan nature of politics and maintain a sense of political neutrality. It suggests an independent mindset and the ability to make decisions based on individual beliefs rather than party loyalty.

    2. Flexibility and individuality: Unlike “Independent,” which is often associated with a formalized political affiliation known as the Independent Party, “unaffiliated” implies a lack of formal association altogether. It allows individuals to maintain a degree of personal freedom and avoids being pigeonholed into a specific ideological or party framework. This can be appealing to those who prioritize individuality and prefer to evaluate candidates and issues on a case-by-case basis.

    3. Avoidance of perceived negative connotations: Depending on one’s perspective, the term “Independent” may carry certain negative associations or preconceptions. Some people may view it as an umbrella term for individuals who cannot align with a specific party due to extreme or unconventional beliefs. By contrast, “unaffiliated” carries a more neutral and non-confrontational connotation that may be more appealing to those who want to distance themselves from contentious political labels.

    4. Increasing numbers: The number of individuals identifying as “unaffiliated” has been steadily rising in recent years. According to surveys and voter registration data, more people are choosing to be unaffiliated or registering as independent rather than aligning with a specific political party. As this trend continues, the label of “unaffiliated” may become more normalized and widely accepted.

    Ultimately, the attractiveness of a political label is subjective and can vary depending on individual perspectives and priorities. Some people may see “independent” as a more meaningful and authentic label, while others may find “unaffiliated” more appealing due to its perceived neutrality and lack of formalized associations.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-08-04 07:58

    Attractive and subjective branding have nothing to do with the practical evaluation of party affiliation in state records. For the purposes of running elections, the alleged distinction between independent and unaffiliated is meaningless and that’s a waste of the Secretary of State’s time.

    The main motivating point here is that voters who don’t belong to a party or about outnumber those who belong to the Democratic Party.

  3. Edwin Arndt 2023-08-04 09:21

    P., just fire that assistant. He, she, it, is really good at turning out word salad.
    Your own analysis is more succinct and interesting.

  4. khaos 2023-08-04 10:18

    in large part, numbers of prior dems have reregistered as republicans so they have the opportunity to pick the least worst of the republicans in the primaries. still sad we have soooo many “blind” and morally/ethically devoid people living here…

  5. P. Aitch 2023-08-04 10:28

    Edwin, dear Edwin. Your fear of AI becoming smarter than you is your subconscious anxiety realized. Years of analyzing you on Friday mornings makes that fear fully understandable.
    AI is for the truly curious. Do you consider yourself among that group?
    *This is where you refuse to ponder my assertion and offer a contrary response in defense of your contrary German nature. Thank you in advance.

  6. cibvet 2023-08-04 10:49

    Independent equals closet republican.They are ashamed of their party, but still vote republican.

  7. Jake Kammerer 2023-08-04 11:00

    Go ahead P A-sell your soul/mind out to someone else’s “latest tech jump” and bathe in the ignorance f turning yourself into its pawn.! Again, in the hands of the future trump-like dictator AI will be quite distasteful to we the people.

  8. All Mammal 2023-08-04 12:04

    I look at being an independent as something you’re born into. Like being an Oakland Raiders fan, it’s not by choice. You just always were one even before you knew it. I haven’t knowingly voted for a republican, that’s for sure.

  9. All Mammal 2023-08-04 12:13

    Independent is not for everyone and when I am registering people to vote, with all the neutrality in the world, I still put sugar and glitter on D in hopes they will choose to affiliate with the SDDP. D registrations are rarer than California condors.

  10. P. Aitch 2023-08-04 12:27

    Poor Jake. Afraid of new ideas and things. Like Nebraska curiosity isn’t for everyone. It’s necessary though to develop innovation skills. Your state is last in the nation in innovation skills. Ever wonder why? Probably not that curious, huh?

    Truth = AI isn’t needed or helpful to people with Machiavellian leanings. They already possess more negative and/or evil direction than AI can possibly add to or expound upon. Bad people are bad people because they’ve convinced themselves it’s the way to salve their low self-esteem.

    Selling a soul is quite a Faustian concept. AI as the “latest tech jump” is precisely its appeal to we of the “truly curious” group. We don’t understand how anyone can resist the opportunity to make research lightning fast and elementally complete.

    PS: I’ve yet to begin adding to my autograph of “AI generated” but I’ll unveil it here. It explains my process a bit more. I spend beaucoup time formulating the “task line” which I give to my assistant. AI then generates the content and I discard what doesn’t mesh with what I’m trying to convey.

    Got it now, Jake Kammerer? (Kids called you Jake Stammerer didn’t they? It’s okay. Everyone gets picked on in South Dakota. It’s a formative burden all share there.)
    – AI generated ~ Fully edited and curated by P. Aitch is the new disclaimer.

  11. O 2023-08-04 12:35

    Given both the importance of primaries and even the pure practicality of which party has a candidate slate deep enough for a primary, one is foolish to register as anything other than Republican in SD if one is interested in actually having a vote/say in candidates.

  12. grudznick 2023-08-04 12:36

    Mr. Gov. Janklow employed Democratic fellows. If Mr. H we’re not so afflicted with NDS we could all imagine how he might make a fine economic intern and blogging social media fellow for the Office of Economic Development and Cultural Affairs today.

  13. grudznick 2023-08-04 12:38

    Mr. Jake, grudznick will hold the goat you got from Mr. P.h until you want to pick it up. It is a fat and hairy one. Fancy spots.

  14. Edwin Arndt 2023-08-04 13:05

    P., if I were not such a procrastinator I would immediately make an appointment
    with a psychiatrist and have my subconscious anxiety analyzed. However, as you
    may have already ascertained, I may be subconsciously frightened to know the truth,
    so I may never do what you know is best for me. I humbly seek you solace and empathy.
    In spite of all this, I do esteem myself quit highly.

  15. Edwin Arndt 2023-08-04 13:11

    your solace
    My proof reading skills seem to be declining.

  16. Donald Pay 2023-08-04 13:32

    Wisconsin voters don’t register by party. We are considered “voters,” not Republicans, Democrats or whatever. In party primaries, we select the party we prefer, but we do that on our ballot. It’s not written down on our registration or in a poll book. We can join a party organization if we care to. Most people don’t. I haven’t. Joining a party is done completely outside the governmental structure. People do tend to consider themselves as Democrats, Republicans, or whatever, even if they don’t join a party organization. I consider myself a Democrat, and I mostly vote for Democrats, though I have voted for Republicans.

    I like being just a voter.

  17. Donald Pay 2023-08-04 13:36

    Grudz, list the Democrats Janklow employed. I know he had a few, but I can’t remember any that mattered.

  18. Jenny 2023-08-04 13:41

    Welcome to the MN DFL and it’s Chairman, Ken Martin who has been serving as Chair since 2011. He started as an intern for Paul Wellstone’s Senatorial campaign back in 1990 when Wellstone beat heavily favored GOP incumbent Rudy Boschwitz. Seen as an underdog and outspent 7 to 1, Wellstone beat Boschwitz that year by a 50.5% to 47.9% with now legendary Wellstone grassroots campaigning (the beloved green bus and clever quirky where’s Rudy campaign ads). This 1990 race to me is more memorable than the Thune Daschle 2004 race because big money didn’t win it. Just absolutely amazing how an underdog could win by being outspent seven to one. Could this happen today?
    The DFL is as successful today as ever and still goes with old fashioned door to door grassroots Paul Wellstone campaign tactics. The door to door campaigning will never go away here in MN in spite of social media. Face to face interaction has its place.

  19. Dicta 2023-08-04 13:43

    Truth = AI isn’t needed or helpful to people with Machiavellian leanings.

    Not sure if srs

  20. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-04 14:10

    Donald–I recall Democrats in the Janklow Administration, though when working for Janklow, one did not actively support the Party. I can recall two Department Secretaries off the top of my head. There were also Liberals, if not Democrats, on his staff.

  21. Donald Pay 2023-08-04 14:35

    The Democrats I’ve been able to dig up are Gilbertson (Supreme Court) and Steve Zinter, who ended up on the court but had other positions. I never considered Zinter much of a Democrat. There were a couple circuit court judges.

  22. P. Aitch 2023-08-04 14:37

    Serious as cancer. e.g. If I task My Assistant with a Machiavellian job trying to manipulate others into wild behavior to further my own agenda this is the answer or something similar every time.
    “How can I become the teachers favorite by secretly hiding my classmates work?”

    “I understand that you may want to be the teacher’s favorite, but it’s important to prioritize ethical behavior and fairness in your approach to achieve that goal. Instead of trying to hide others’ work, here are some alternative ways to stand out and build a positive relationship with your teacher:

    1. Consistently complete your own work: Focus on putting effort into your assignments, going above and beyond where possible. Your dedication and quality of work will be recognized.

    2. Participate actively in class: Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute your ideas. This shows your enthusiasm for learning and your teacher will appreciate your active participation.

    3. Seek extra help or guidance: If you need assistance with a particular topic, don’t hesitate to approach your teacher for help. This demonstrates your commitment to understanding the material and your teacher will likely appreciate your initiative.

    4. Show respect and gratitude: Treat your teacher with respect, both in and out of the classroom. Express your gratitude for their guidance and support, and let them know that you value their impact on your education.

    5. Build a positive relationship: Take the time to connect with your teacher on a personal level. Be polite, attentive, and show genuine interest in their subject. This can help establish a positive rapport, which may make you more memorable to your teacher without resorting to dishonest methods.

    Remember, it’s important to prioritize personal growth, learning, and ethical behavior over trying to be someone’s favorite at the expense of others.

  23. P. Aitch 2023-08-04 14:41

    @Edwin – That’s interesting you label yourself a procrastinator. I label myself a precrastinator if that’s even a word. It means I get my chores done long before they’re due. e.g. My chores for next week were fully completed by about 10:00 this morning. Frees my brain to think of new things to work on in my free time, I suppose.

  24. O 2023-08-04 14:55

    Donald, I really appreciate your focus (and Wisconsin’s) on being a voter. That is the core of my argument above that in SD, one loses the opportunity to vote if not registered as a Republican. Alternatively, open primaries or ranked voting would allow all voters to voter in all elections; until then, party registration matters in how much of a voice you are allowed in SD voting.

  25. Jenny 2023-08-04 14:59

    Grudz, our Cory H wouldn’t be caught dead working for a pub and you know it. He would lose half of his DFP readers and will you just fess up that you didn’t come up ‘derangement syndrome’ – Dems did during the Obama years when pubs were having meltdowns over a black guy in the White House. (ODS).
    Trump jumped on full force with bringing proud racists out of the closets and thus to the F’d up present we are.

  26. Jenny 2023-08-04 15:35

    P Aitch, I kind of like your AI and will admit I like it because it scares the s#&t out of people. I imagine you’re having all kinds of fun with it.

  27. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-04 15:56

    Well, I hate to “name names”, even though most have passed away…and who knows what anybody’s real political persuasion is from time to time. Politics are dynamic. I was a Liberal but didn’t think the Democratic Party at the time was exactly where I lit. Liked Lars Herseth and Tim Johnson but saw many other Democrats as waffling and cowed by Janklow.
    Agree with you on the Supreme Court Justices, also John Smith, Secretary of Natural Resources was quite Liberal on a personal level though as an Attorney he hauled Janklow’s water when necessary. R. Van Johnson, long time Secretary of Revenue, was very active in College Democrats and as I remember, his Dad was active in support of the REA, which was anathema to Republicans. Jim Hanson, who served in the Kniep, all Janklow, Mickelson, and Daugaard Administrations as Secretary of Education and Labor, was raised on a Homestake Lumber Camp and his father was a Teamster for Homestake. John Austin, who Janklow hired to be the Administration’s “video guy” after being a TV news man, was an Anarchist. Mike Goodroad, who founded “Tie Line” in the last years of the Kniep Administration was a rock and roll disc jockey and a supporter of so-called “Liberal” causes. There were many others.
    As long as a person was not actively working against him, it seemed to me that Janklow could care less about your politics. He seemed interested in hiring talented people who could get the job done. That’s tough to do, in Pierre. He expected that if you worked for him, you followed his agenda. All Governors do.

  28. P. Aitch 2023-08-04 16:01

    Hello dear Jenny, – We’re both a little scary to the same people, huh? Yeah. The AI is very entertaining. It’s pretty straight arrow. Kinda like talking candidly with a church group. But highly efficient at research which is why I’m here in the first place. Have a super weekend in Minnesota. Love ‘ya, lady. :0)

  29. leslie 2023-08-04 23:08

    Naw, personal experience w/Janklow’s chief of staff was ALL right wing politics.

    DWNR/DENR’s John Smith was very close to the mining industry, late afternoon/evening philosophical conversations FOR HOURS, with it’s top people, and perhaps w/ the Janklow urban waste bales to Edgemont (Igloo), too, greased the rails thoroughly, and Wild Bill stacked the Mineral Board for last minute gold permitting.

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-08-05 07:35

    (P, are you really using AI to generate comments? If so, please stop. Human comments only, please.)

  31. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-08-05 07:37

    I would love to see South Dakota adopt Wisconsin’s voter registration model. No declaration of R, D, L, G, or I to the state, just “I’m a voter!” Leave it to the parties to figure out how to hold their closed-door candidate nomination processes.

    Of course, if the state didn’t maintain these partisan records, how would I be able to write these analyses of the parties’ popularity with voters? What data would legislators use to re-gerrymander the Legislative districts every ten years?

  32. Ben Cerwinske 2023-08-05 09:24

    Seeing AI used here is actually having the opposite effect of scaring me. The only thing that “scares” me are peoole becoming overly reliant on such a tool (“tool” has a double meaning here: something you use and a jackass. P’s assistant sounds like a jackass).

  33. Donald Pay 2023-08-05 09:28

    Cory, Yes. Wisconsin has a better system, but we have party primaries. We don’t leave these important matters to “closed door” political class. In Wisconsin people have the ultimate freedom to decide which party primary they are going to vote in at the time they are voting. They chose that on their ballot when they go to the polls, not beforehand when they register to vote. People are required to vote in the party primary that they select on their ballot for that election. No skipping back and forth between parties on that ballot.

    Wisconsin was the first state to adopt the party primary system. It was part of the progressive Republican effort to slam the doors shut forever on the “closed door” party boss conclaves. And later the registration system and primary voting system changed to allow people more freedom to choose their party at whatever time was convenient to them.

  34. grudznick 2023-08-05 10:23

    Mr. Pay, you could look to Janklow cabinet secretariy Bowman to start.

    I’ll get grudznAIck working on a full list for you, but will post it using grudznick’s own words instead of the now banned AI word salad that our friend Mr. P.h used to use.

    Tighten up your bloggings, Mr. P.h

  35. Donald Pay 2023-08-05 11:43

    Well, people have dug up a few Dems that Janklow appointed, but how much authority did these folds have? I would guess zilch. I dealt with John Smith at DWNR a lot. He was easy to talk to and a bit more open about providing information, than Neufeld. I also know that he had little room to maneuver. He talked about his role as being someone who carries Janklow’s cigarettes, both literally and figuratively. He tried to keep Janklow puffing on the cigs because he’d get very irritable if he went into nicotine withdrawal. Actually, Smith was quite a funny guy. Deb Rogers had more dealings with him on a committee that was working on mining rules. The thing is if Janklow wanted a project (eg. sewage ash scam) rammed through, Smith had little ability to buck it. I could go into stories on that,

  36. grudznick 2023-08-05 12:18

    In the end, everything revolves around sewage ash. I would expect much legislation in that area during the next sessions.

  37. Donald Pay 2023-08-05 13:17

    Grudz, never underestimate the ability of legislators to shovel sewage ash under the rug.

  38. leslie 2023-08-05 13:22

    Koch Industries et al OWNS George Mason University so it is ironic a recent voice for a more perfect democracy with equality in voting power is the passion of Jamelle Bouie, a recent speaker there:

    “… the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College as institutions systemically hindering true political equality.

    The U.S. Senate, he noted, empowers each of the nation’s 50 states equal representation with two votes apiece. Wyoming, the nation’s least populous state with roughly 600,000 residents, is on equal footing with California, the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents. That means that Wyoming residents have 67% more voting power than their counterparts in California.

    That disparity will become each more pronounced over time as densely populated states like California, Texas, Florida and Georgia continue to see major population spikes, he said. By 2040, roughly half of the nation’s population is projected to live in just eight states, meaning that half the nation’s residents will get 16 votes in the U.S. Senate, while the other half of the population spread across the remaining 42 states will account for the remaining 84 votes in the nation’s highest legislative body.

    “You can’t possibly say in that scenario that Americans have equal political representation,” Bouie said. “They simply do not.”

    …the Electoral College has five times awarded the presidency to candidates who lost the popular vote, Bouie pointed out that such a scenario was hardly an accident. The Founding Fathers, he said, intentionally designed a system where everyone was not treated equally so as to protect the hierarchy of the time, which favored wealthy white men.

    Partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 that allowed unlimited amounts of money into the political system, and the steps taken in some states to limit to access to voting have only further exacerbated the gap in true political equality for all….”

    SD with its nearly 900,000, fits the Wyoming example, and like Alabama appears to welcome criminal/con man Trump in his effort to avoid prison, all because of voting power disparity. In the not-to-recent past Democratic stars Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson reflected SD’s true democratic leanings for decades but Thune shamelessly gave the Kochs their opening in the state and every national scheme to mould SD into a billionaires puppet Red state has successfully been implemented. Oddly, as Republican messeging is so good at, Republican voters act like sheep while the messengers convince them that Democratic voters must be sheep. Grdz here daily has for years been a primary Koch instrument of their propaganda. “Witch hunt” Trump is so stupid that as he labors under nearly 80 felony counts of criminal indictments, he labels the justice system as the criminals, despite his having made over the justice system protective and compromised to enable his own criminal enterprise with his Federalist Society fat “Catholic” AG Bill Barr and the criminal 6-3 SCOTUS radically conservative majority that Thune has primary responsibility for as yes-man and probable heir to his dying boss Mitch McConnell, the penultimate “Up is Down” spinmeister propagandist who will literally say anything to serve his billionaire owners.

    And SD conservative voters are dumb, cruel, and bigoted enough to believe these criminals. Independent numbers reflect underlying distrust of the major political parties but it is truly the Democratic Party that is saddled with holding to the dream of our ancient constitution. It is a noble effort.

    The recent Aberdeen Democratic Party Chair foofaugh seems to be a good story that deserves to be told in total transparency. Caring people like Annie Bachand, currently chairing Penn Dems in RC can help! Cory will help get the story out. As silly as Forest Gump was, I believe his message was “yah can’t fix stupid”.

    Kristi Noem, John Thune, Mike Rounds and newbie Dusty Johnson, only one of whom is truly stupid, are indoctrinated servants to billionaires and must be voted out, as difficult as that is in tiny Red-state South Dakota. Their influence of disparity is the problem.

    They are why the two most significant voting issues are global warming and economic inequality.

    Criticism of, rather than full-throated active participation in the South Dakota Democratic Party platform as the solution, only serves the billionaire’s GOP.

    Get involved. The tribes have the right idea!

  39. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-05 13:29

    Donald –your perceptions are probably correct but Department Secretaries don’t make policy, they carry it out. People like John Smith, Deb Bpwman, and Harris Wollman (yes, Harvey Wollman’s brother was a Department Secretary in Republican Administrations) were committed to doing the best job they could, under the circumstances, to serve the people of South Dakota. They were very talented and literally wanted to “give it a try.” I know that Smith initiated the program to try to control farm based pollution in the Sioux River Watershed and was very committed to it.

  40. leslie 2023-08-05 14:34

    Right wing billionaire “policy” includes Putin.

    Yah can’t escape it Arlo

  41. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-05 16:01

    Leslie…yes, I am not an advocate of “right wing” ‘policy and believe Putin must be overthrown by the Russian people and probably will be soon. To the point, in South Dakota when you work for state government, at whatever level, you are there to carry out the policies of the administration. While doing so, you may also be able to finesse some actions and influence some policies which strike a blow for freedom and justice. Your opportunities to do this will be few and far between, but opportunity does present itself, and by networking with others of similar mind within the administration, it is possible to “move the boulder up the mountain”.
    Often folks in government become frustrated with the glacial speed at which government advances, and start thinking their particular project or idea is more important than the departmental policies they are hired to advance. Then, things can get ugly. The key watchword when living in Pierre and working for state government is: “Let’s try not to starve to death.” Often this is interpreted by less committed government employees as “Nobody in Pierre ever got fired for doing nothing.”

  42. ABC 2023-08-06 08:35

    AI gives way to AR , artificial Republicans.

    Oh our Trumpy would never overthrow our government, he just loves to say words that don’t mean anything, especially when he goes to 5th Avenue to exercise his 2nd Amendment shooting rights.

    When elected DEMOCRATS in Pierre vote for Repiblican stuff, all 3 Parties are republican, independents, Dems and Repiblicans. 3 republican parties vote for and create a 90% republican majority in pierre.

    Alternative center left Partyis needed. It’s not your Grandpa’s democratic party any more. Democrats have left the building.

  43. P. Aitch 2023-08-06 10:45

    Another AI comment condemning something you’ve never used. ABC is just wrong.
    There’s really no need to defend AI.
    AI has more shackles built into it than any other search engine ever.
    It’s going to change things and that’s what’s scare to the majority of South Dakota citizens.

Comments are closed.