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Poll: Rounds leads in Senate race

A new poll shows Republican Mike Rounds maintaining a lead over Democrat Rick Weiland in a head-to-head matchup for a U.S. Senate seat from South Dakota.

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Conducted Oct. 2-6 by Neilson Brothers Polling, of Sioux Falls, in the midst of the government shutdown, the poll also indicates a drop in support for U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and a more pessimistic outlook on the direction of South Dakota.

When matched against Weiland (the only announced Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate) Rounds leads 50.2 to 34.8 percent, with 15 percent undecided. The race has narrowed since the June NBP survey, which had Rounds ahead 54.3 to 27.1 percent.

Rounds holds a sizable advantage over other announced challengers for the Republican nomination. Republican primary voters give Rounds 46.1 percent support, followed by Stace Nelson (10.4 percent), Larry Rhoden (3.9) and Annette Bosworth (2.7). More than a third of Republican primary voters (37 percent) remain undecided.

NBP also matches Rick Weiland against Brendan Johnson and Steve Jarding, two other potential Democratic candidates, in a hypothetical primary contest. Among likely Democratic primary voters, Johnson leads with 30.7 percent support, followed by Weiland with 10.1 percent and Jarding with 6.6 percent. A majority (52.7 percent) of Democratic respondents are undecided.

The Senate candidates are running for the seat that will be vacated by the retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. Party primary elections will be in June and the general election will be in November 2014.

When asked about Noem, 52 percent of respondents say they approve of her job performance, and 48 percent disapprove. The 52 percent approval is a 4.2 point drop from 56.2 percent in the June NBP survey.

The poll shows a more pessimistic view of the state’s direction when compared with the June survey. The 44.1 percent that say the state is going in the “right direction” is a 5.1 point drop from 49.2 in June. The 31.9 percent that answer “wrong direction” is a rise of 8.7 points (23.2).