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South Dakota Editorial Roundup

We're 'red,' but not like Wyo.

South Dakota is not far behind Wyoming as one of the most conservative states in the nation. Our neighbor to the west takes the top prize, while we rank fourth.

Otherwise, there are several degrees of separation, according to the latest Gallup poll.

Wyoming also tops the nation when it comes to anti-Obama sentiment. South Dakota didn't make the top 10.

And our Republican leanings aren't nearly as strong as Wyoming's, where 56 percent of respondents identified themselves as Republicans, or leaning toward Republican beliefs, compared with South Dakota's 45 percent.

To put that in context, a Democratic candidate in Wyoming faces a disadvantage of minus 28 percentage points, compared with minus 7 in South Dakota. When it comes to Republican states, Wyoming comes in second to Utah. South Dakota is ninth.

It's no revelation that South Dakota is a conservative Republican state.

What's interesting about the poll results is that we're more conservative than we are Republican, reflecting a more independent nature in thinking that doesn't necessarily align with party politics.

In fact, at the end of last year, the combined number of South Dakotans who described themselves as moderate (36.1 percent) or liberal (15.8 percent) outnumbered self-described conservatives (44.4 percent).

Those numbers have since moved in reverse, with 50 percent weighing in as conservative versus 46 percent moderate or liberal.

That same trend is happening nationwide as exuberance generated by the last presidential election wears thin.

What does that mean for Democratic candidates up for election this year in South Dakota?

They've got a fighting chance, though very slim, mainly because a fair number of South Dakota conservatives belong to the Democratic party. And they think for themselves.

That's something to be proud of in this polarized political world. It also indicates that even though South Dakota is staunchly conservative, it's not as red as some might think.

... One interesting footnote to all of the numbers is the fact that the tea party movement has such a heavy presence of conservative Republicans, that one political analyst described it this way: ... the tea party movement is more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the political scene."

How the tea party will impact the November election also remains to be seen. Gallup's latest research indicates it will be less than expected.

Rapid City Journal

Dams need priority in S.D.

The washout of Rose Hill Dam recently raises again the issue of dam safety in South Dakota.

The dam was part of the Rose Hill Lake public area in Hand County along Sand Creek, about 10 miles south of Wessington. Rose Hill was managed by the state Game, Fish and Parks Department and promoted by GFP as a public fishing area. ...

The Legislature two years ago left the matter of dam repairs largely in the hands of local governments and local users, even though the state Office of School and Public Lands and GFP have responsibility for many of these Depression-era dams. ...

Dam safety frankly has been one big dodge at the state Capitol in recent years, as shown during the struggles to get money for an engineering study of Richmond Dam in Brown County and two other dams elsewhere.

Legislators said they didn't want to open the door to too many funding requests for dam repairs. The state agencies' managers claimed they don't have the money in their budgets for repairs.

It comes down to a matter of priorities. ...

It's human nature to spend money on new things, while deferring maintenance and improvements on what you already own. What happened at Rose Hill was an act of nature. We don't know yet whether anything could have been done differently at Rose Hill.

We do know that dam safety overall needs to be a higher priority and needs to be handled differently and better, starting right now.

Aberdeen American News