As expected, Democrat Stephanie Herseth defeated Republican Larry Diedrich in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Bill Janklow’s resignation. The margin, however, was narrower than anticipated–only two points–as Diedrich closed rapidly at the end of the campaign. Diedrich tried to spin the results in advance by saying, on the morning of the election, that he would be satisfied with anything better than a five-point loss. Diedrich will face Herseth again in November.
Tom Daschle was invisible in Herseth’s campaign. There has been speculation that he may have hoped that she would lose, on the theory that South Dakotans, most of whom are Republicans, may blanch at the idea of their entire Congressional delegation being Democrats, thereby hurting Daschle in his upcoming race against John Thune.
UPDATE: Further to our ongoing discussion of Zogby’s polls, Dafydd ab Hugh notes that, as pointed out by Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics, Zogby had Herseth winning by 12 points in his last pre-election poll. That’s a horrible call of an election that wound up 51-49. Reports also indicate that Zogby’s polling on the Daschle/Thune race parallels the results of Daschle’s internal polls. Let’s hope that’s a sign of trouble for Daschle.
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