Poll: Noem opens lead of nine pointsNoem leads 50.8 to 42 percent, according to a Friday release from Nielson Brothers Polling, of Sioux Falls. In a July poll by the same firm, she led by two points, 47.4 to 45.6 percent.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Republican incumbent Kristi Noem has a nearly nine-point lead over Democratic challenger Matt Varilek in their U.S. House race, according to newly released poll results.
Noem leads 50.8 to 42 percent, according to a Friday release from Nielson Brothers Polling, of Sioux Falls. In a July poll by the same firm, she led by two points, 47.4 to 45.6 percent.
Noem’s campaign manager Tom Erickson wasn’t overly impressed with the results.
“Nielson Brothers is a partisan Democratic firm with questionable methodology, but even they couldn’t cook the books and create a poll that gives Matt Varilek an edge,” Erickson said. Republican candidates, staffers and supporters have routinely bashed NBP since a 2010 poll in the governor’s race was far off the mark, showing Democratic candidate Scott Heidepriem with far more support than other polls did. The poll’s error was proven on Election Night.
However, Nielson Brothers’ other polls, including the final one issued in the 2010 congressional race, have been much closer to the final results. Another point of contention is the fact that Paul Nielson, president of Nielson Brothers Polling and a pastor with a master’s in divinity, was a Democratic candidate for the Legislature in 2008. His brother Mark, an economist, is an independent.
David Benson, Varilek’s campaign manager, dismissed the impact of the poll while taking another poke at Noem over the stalled farm bill, a regular topic in this race.
“The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day,” Benson said. “We’re confident in our chances because all over the state, people are frustrated by the fact that Congresswoman Noem has done nothing for farmers, ranchers and middle class families, but she still seems to find time to give tax breaks to her big oil and insurance company friends.”
Republicans also have leads in other races in South Dakota.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama 53.9 to 38.7 percent with 7.4 percent undecided. Romney’s lead has increased since NBP’s July survey in which he led by six points.
In the race for one of two Public Utilities Commission seats, incumbent Republican Kristie Fiegen now leads Democrat Matt McGovern 47.0 percent to 36.5 percent with 16.5 percent undecided. Libertarian candidate Russ Clarke was not listed as having any support in the survey. In NBP’s July survey, Fiegen led by two points.
“South Dakotans care about who will fight for them every day and look out for their best interests,” Fiegen said. “I will continue to fight EPA mandates that are driving up utilities cost for families, farmers/ranchers, and small businesses in South Dakota. I will also fight for the future of our state and for expanded broadband technology that benefits everyone.”
McGovern said he is pleased with what he is hearing on the campaign trail.
“I’ve been getting a good response from South Dakotans as I’ve been campaigning since the poll was taken over Labor Day weekend three weeks ago,” he said. “I’m focusing on Election Day so I can work for consumers and farmers, not the utilities the PUC regulates.”
NBP did not poll on the other PUC race between incumbent Chris Nelson, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Nick Nemec.
“We will be including Russ Clarke in our future Fiegen-McGovern surveys,” Nielson said. “It will be interesting to see his impact.
“With regard to Chris Nelson and Nick Nemec, we did not anticipate a lot of movement as Nick had just entered the race, and we wanted to focus on other questions,” he said. “We are always making judgments as to which questions are most important and pertinent at the time of the survey. I anticipate that we will poll on both PUC races in our upcoming surveys. However, if the numbers get out of hand and the conclusion seems foregone, we may shift to other issues.”
Both Fiegen and Nelson were appointed to the PUC in 2011. Fiegen, McGovern and Clarke are seeking a full six-year term, while Nelson and Nemec are vying for a four-year term.
Respondents were also asked to evaluate Obama’s job performance. Overall, 42.9 percent approve, with 25.8 percent saying they “strongly approve” and 17.1 percent saying they “somewhat approve.” Of the 57.1 percent who disapprove, 45 percent say they “strongly disapprove.”
The July NBP survey showed Obama’s approval rating to be at 45 percent.
The NBP survey shows Noem’s job approval to be 54.7 percent, with 28.6 percent saying they “somewhat approve” and 26.1 percent “strongly approve.” On the other hand, 25.7 percent of respondents say they “strongly disapprove” and 19.7 percent “somewhat disapprove.” NBP did not ask this question in its July poll.
NBP also asked whether respondents supported the Republican or Democratic state Senate candidate in their legislative district and 46.4 percent supported the Republican candidate, 33.3 percent supported the Democrat, and 20.4 percent remained undecided.
By comparison, in NBP’s July survey, 44.2 percent of likely voters chose the Republican, 34.8 percent chose the Democrat, and 21.1 percent were undecided.
NBP surveyed a random selection of likely South Dakota voters Aug. 29 through Sept. 6. The question on the presidential race drew 512 responses, with a 4.33 percent margin of error. The question on the US House race drew 509 responses, with a 4.34 percent margin of error. The question on the PUC race between Fiegen and McGovern drew 503 responses with a 4.37 percent margin of error.
Nielson Brothers Polling will release more findings from the survey next week, including questions on Initiated Measure 15 and economic confidence.