After the 2016 election made such fools of the pollsters, even Democrats are afraid to make firm predictions this year. The “mainstream” media are nothing but propaganda conduits for them, and the polls continue to be nothing but propaganda conduits for them, still The Atlantic quotes as stalwart a Democrat as Rep. Debbie Dingell saying: “I don’t trust polling. I don’t believe that Biden is 16 points up in Michigan; that’s a bullshit poll, and it’s the same people who said Hillary had it in the bag.”
But while even Democrats fear to predict, I am ready to make a fearless election prediction:
South Dakota will vote for Trump in 2020.
Go ahead and laugh. I know, that’s like predicting there will be snow in the state before the election. Nobody but nobody is predicting otherwise.
Still, it’s exhilarating to be able to make a prediction without reservations. The only poll of South Dakota voters I’ve been able to find this year is one by Axios/Survey Monkey on October 1, and it shows Trump 58% to Biden 41%. And that poll is probably biased in favor of Biden, if my observations during my recent vacation in the state are any indication.
Trump won South Dakota by 30 percentage points in 2016. The state is one of seven early voting states where voters must register by party, and this year’s early-voting turnout—in South Dakota and nationally—has election pundits puzzled. And that includes Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, who manages the United States Election Project, which tracks early voting totals.
USA Today reports:
South Dakota has seen the greatest percentage of increase in voters in relation to 2016 overall turnout. Twenty-three percent of South Dakota’s 2016 turnout has voted early….
Even in ultra-conservative South Dakota, where Trump won the 2016 election by 30 percentage points, Democrats have returned nearly as many mail ballots (26,900), as Republicans (29,699). Fifty-seven percent of Democrats who requested mail ballots have returned them, a greater share than the 45% of Republicans.
“Trump supporters have been listening to the president, his rhetoric about mail ballot fraud, and they decided not to vote by mail,” McDonald said, adding that not only did Democrats request more mail ballots than Republicans [nationally], they are also returning them at higher rates. “Both of these things are highly unusual. Usually more Republicans vote by mail and they return their ballots at a higher rate when it is also said and done. To see things turned on their head is very unusual.”
In my October 6 article, I noted how Gov. Kristi Noem’s popularity has zoomed because of her decision to keep the state open for business and tourism, refusing to issue any statewide lockdown mandates. After spending more than a week on vacation in South Dakota’s Black Hills, I personally witnessed her popularity and the popularity of President Trump in the state. Among my observations:
✔Being careful not to note my election-outcome preference, I did not run into a single person who volunteered that they were going to vote for Biden.
✔On the other hand, many persons volunteered their enthusiasm for Gov. Kristi Noem and President Trump—usually lumped together. Some were locals, others visitors like me who had chosen to vacation in South Dakota because of its lack of lockdown restrictions.
✔The enthusiasm for Noem was especially noticeable with the young women who worked as restaurant servers and bartenders, both in South Dakota and in neighboring Wyoming. They obviously relish her as a role model and symbol of their western heritage. (Those photos of her on horseback, in western attire, are not an election stunt. She was born and raised in the saddle on a South Dakota ranch.)
✔My rough count of yard signs says Trump signs outnumbered Biden signs roughly four-to-one.
✔A young man from Minnesota told me he lives in a small town a good many miles west of Minneapolis, and complained about how his governor’s pandemic edicts might make sense in Minneapolis but made no sense for rural towns like his. His governor obviously considers residents outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to be yokels, he said, and that attitude and the state lockdown may be turning Minnesota into a red state for the first time in decades.
✔A wait for dinner at a restaurant gave me an opportunity to have a long talk with a couple (probably in their 60s) from Iowa and their oldest daughter, now a rancher with her husband in Nebraska (he was tending the ranch while she was having this trip with her parents). The couple are bikers and have made it to the Sturgis motorcycle rally a number of times; they agreed it was larger than expected this year, despite the pandemic and the border quarantine of Canadian bikers. All three were ardent Trump supporters, and they brought up a point made by others on this trip—that in these plains states the independent family farmers are overwhelmingly for Trump, while the corporate farmers support the Democrats. “We know that if the Democrats get control of everything, our family farms are finished,” said the daughter.
✔Several owners of lodgings where I stayed mentioned a strong increase in out-of-state visitors who mention they are considering moving to South Dakota because of its governor and her no-lockdown policies. They seem to be coming from California as well as points East. I had heard of Californians fleeing to Idaho and Texas, but this is even farther east for them.
✔Contrary to the fate of many downtown hotels today, the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City was at near-full occupancy. The clerk credited this to the state being open for business, without the size restrictions for conventions found in other states. (Conservative Hillsdale College was having a conference there at the time of my trip.)
✔The annual buffalo herd roundup in Custer State Park was a highlight of my trip, and the pandemic fear campaign didn’t keep people away. Indeed, Kobee Stalder, visitor services program manager at Custer State Park, said our viewing area had roughly 1,000 more vehicles parked this year compared to last year.
✔Noem was one of 60 cowboys and cowgirls on horseback working to get some 1,450 bison into the corrals. Having her among the wranglers was “excellent,” Stalder said, as she embodies what South Dakota is all about. “We have a governor who embraces the Old West and ranch lifestyle,” he added. “To be able to come out and enjoy the event with her and have her out there helping push the bison, I think, that’s great. She’s the leader of our state and to have her show the way is excellent when it comes to an event like this.”
✔State Rep. Tim Goodwin was also present at the roundup, working a booth, and he reported that “hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the United States came up to us and said something like this: We sure wish we had your Gov. Noem in our state. The reason we traveled all this way to the Buffalo Roundup was because your governor kept South Dakota free.” He then added: “They went on to say that they wanted to move here, with several, again in the hundreds, saying in fact they were moving here and even asked if we knew a good realtor. You had to be there to experience the passion in their voices. It was truly amazing and made all of us manning the booth very proud to be South Dakotans and also very proud of our courageous governor.”
The Evidence of Real Estate Trends
An October 16 article in the Rapid City Journal reporting on real estate trends supports these personal impressions. The headline: “Pandemic boosting home sales in the state, realtors say.”
The influx is noted in both the western (Rapid City) and eastern (Sioux Falls) parts of the state, the two largest housing markets. “The average prices paid for homes have risen in both markets; houses are spending fewer days on the market; and there are as many as 30% fewer homes for sale due to increased demand.” And the reasons given by the new residents include South Dakota’s “lack of a state income tax, relatively low property taxes and home prices, safe neighborhoods, a small-town vibe, and access to wide open spaces.” Gov. Noem’s move to keep the state open for business and against lockdowns and mask mandates are now the icing on the cake.
The article mentions persons fleeing California, Portland, and Minneapolis, but focuses on a young couple from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Nathaniel and Jeanette Putney. “After seeing crime rise in his Virginia Beach neighborhood for years and watching new gun regulations get passed, the last straw for Putney was his home state’s response to COVID-19,” which cost him his job.
“I didn’t really want to leave. I kind of figured maybe it would get better, but it never did,” Putney said. “I might have physically left Virginia, but Virginia left me long before.”
“South Dakota is just the land of milk and honey, and I love it,” Putney said.
Governor Cuomo of New York and all you other Democrat governors: Take note.