There could potentially be yet another upset brewing for an independent candidate in a Senate race from a red state — on top of the already dramatic campaign in Kansas — according to the new SurveyUSA poll of the open seat race in South Dakota, where Sen. Tim Johnson (D) is retiring.
The poll, conducted for the Aberdeen American News and other local media outlets, shows Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds with 35 percent of the vote; followed in second place by ex-Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler, who is now running as an independent, with 32 percent; and Democratic former FEMA official (and amateur country singer) Rick Weiland with 28 percent; plus another independent, Gordon Howie, drawing 3 percent. The survey of likely voters was conducted from Oct. 1 to 5, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
This poll suggests a possible new surge of momentum for Pressler. In the previous SurveyUSA poll of the race from a month ago, Rounds had 39 percent, Weiland 28 percent, and Pressler 25 percent.
Pressler served in the Senate as a Republican for 18 years, before he was defeated in 1996 by Tim Johnson. He later went on to cross party lines and endorse Barack Obama for president, first in 2008 and again in 2012. Now running as a centrist, he has left open the option of caucusing with either party if he returns to the Senate. He has also promised to serve only one term — he would thus retire at age 78 — so that he would never raise any money for re-election.