South Dakota might be next on the list of states where Republicans have a bruising Senate primary. Our first look at the state for 2014 finds Mike Rounds and Kristi Noem closely locked in a hypothetical contest, with Rounds leading just 43/39. Noem's favorability rating with GOP voters at 71/18 is slightly better than Rounds' 67/17.
Overall voters in the state have a positive opinion of both Rounds (51/34 favorability) and Noem (49/42). They're closely divided in their views about incumbent Tim Johnson with 44% of voters approving of the job he's doing to 45% who disapprove. Rounds leads Johnson 52/41 in a hypothetical match up with Noem leading Johnson 49/45.
If Johnson were to retire, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin remains a popular figure in the state and may actually increase Democrats' chances at keeping the race competitive. She has a 52/37 favorability rating with 30% of Republicans holding a positive opinion of her, the kind of crossover appeal that's necessary for a Democrat to win in a state like South Dakota. Herseth Sandlin would lead Noem 48/47 in a rematch of their 2010 contest, and would start out trailing Rounds by a 49/44 margin.
South Dakota provides a good opportunity for Republicans in 2014 but these numbers suggest that it won't be the end of the world for Democrats if Johnson ends up deciding to retire, given Herseth Sandlin's popularity, and the potential for a highly divisive GOP primary that could give Democrats an opportunity to replicate some of their other red state wins over the last few election cycles.
Full results here