Raleigh, N.C. – 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.