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Marijuana may boost turnout for Democrats

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October 14, 2010

PIERRE, South Dakota: Given recent media attention on Kristi Noem's congressional bid and national anti-incumbent sentiment, it seems that Republicans have an edge in South Dakota's fall election. A recent Gallup Poll revealed that 47% of Republicans and 28% of Democrats nationwide are very enthusiastic about the fall election. However, some analysts have predicted that state cannabis initiatives may spur Democratic turnout.[1]

The November 2 general election features marijuana-related measures in Arizona, Oregon, California, and South Dakota. Since these measures are supported more heavily by young, Democratic voters, analysts predict a boost in turnout for this group--a boon to struggling Democratic candidates.[1]

Ballotpedia research suggests that South Dakota already has a moderately competitive election environment. Ballotpedia's recent competitiveness analysis ranked South Dakota as the 18th most competitive state overall. In the 70 state house seats up for election, only 7 incumbents faced no primary or general election challenge. In the 35 state senate seats up for election, 7 incumbents also faced no primary or general election challenge. South Dakota's term limits also play a role in increasing competition by removing incumbents and creating more open seats. 8 state representatives and 4 state senators are ineligible to run for re-election in 2010. South Dakota ranks eighth in its number of open seats.

Despite South Dakota's moderate number of challengers and high number of open seats, an increase in Democratic turnout is unlikely to shift control of the state legislature. Heading into the November 2 general election, Republicans are the majority in the House of Representatives and State Senate.


State House of Representatives

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 12
     Republican Party 58
Total 70


State Senate

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 8
     Republican Party 27
Total 35


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