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May 19, 2004
Daschle, Thune In Dead Heat

South Dakota television station KELO and the Argus-Leader, the state's largest daily newspaper, announced that their polling shows that John Thune has pulled into a virtual dead heat with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle -- without having spent a cent on advertising (via Hugh Hewitt and Power Line):

We polled 800 registered voters last week who say they regularly vote. Here's who they'd choose as senator if today were Election Day.

Our KELOLAND-TV/Argus Leader scientific poll shows 49% of voters would support democrat Tom Daschle. 47% would vote for republican John Thune. And just 4 percent are undecided. There's a three and a half percent margin of error. ...

At this point, the Senate race is a tale of two campaigns. Daschle's camp has been on the air for months, and spent millions of dollars doing it. His supporters argue it's been more effective than our numbers suggest. Thune's camp contends people either aren't paying attention to the campaigning, or they're getting sick of it.

Thune, in the meantime, has waited to launch his campaign in order to pack as much punch as he can when it will be most effective. Daschle's money has done little except move him backwards, or perhaps has only managed to slow his backward momentum. One possible boost for Daschle could be the special election to fill the rest of Bill Janklow's term in this session of Congress:

A soybean farmer and former lawmaker will face a member of one of South Dakota's most distinguished political families in a closely watched special election next month to replace Rep. Bill Janklow, who resigned after being convicted of manslaughter in an auto accident. The winner of the June 1 contest between Democrat Stephanie Herseth and Republican Larry Diedrich will serve out the seven months left in Janklow's term. And no matter who wins, the two candidates will face each other again in the November election for a full two-year term in Congress.

Democrats plan on organizing a large-scale effort to take this seat from the Republicans and put it in their column. Even though the session will only last a few more months, whoever wins the seat will likely wind up winning it in November. But more importantly, as I blogged yesterday, that push will help Daschle recover some lost momentum. Republicans in South Dakota need some help countering the expected Democratic assault from around the country -- and that's why Rep. John Kline and the NRCC will provide free room and board for Minnesota Republicans to spend a few days helping to build some grassroots momentum for Larry Diedrich. Check out the link to yesterday's post for more information.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 19, 2004 10:39 PM

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