Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thune safe

John Thune participated in two of the closest Senate races of the decade, narrowly losing to Tim Johnson in 2002 and then barely edging out Tom Daschle in 2004. It's going to be a different story in 2010, as Thune looks likely to win in a walk.

Thune's approval rating is 57%, with 35% of voters disapproving of him. The only Senators with better approval numbers than that among about 40 PPP has polled on this year were Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Thune leads a generic Democratic opponent 56-33, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why he doesn't have an actual Democratic opponent. He's got Republicans almost completely united around him at 86-9, leads 44-37 with independents, and picks up a decent 22% of the Democratic vote.

For all of Thune's popularity in the state though, South Dakota voters don't want to see him run for President in 2012. Just 28% are supportive of the idea with 55% opposed. PPP has found similar trends with Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota. Among voters who like the job Thune's doing in the Senate only 43% want him to make a run for the White House, perhaps reflecting a sentiment that good Senators are hard to find and you need to keep the ones you've got on the job.

For now it's clear that if South Dakota's going to be an electoral battleground again in 2010 it will be because of the House race rather than another close Thune contest.

Full results here

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