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Survey finds SD political beliefs split

Just over 46% of respondents said they identify as either extremely-to-moderately conservative,...
Just over 46% of respondents said they identify as either extremely-to-moderately conservative, while just under 42% of respondents fell under extremely-to-moderately liberal.(WNAX)
Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 7:48 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - A new survey conducted by a political science professor at the University of South Dakota shows a fairly even split when it comes to political opinion in the state of South Dakota, with conservative beliefs holding a slight edge, and a large portion of the population describing themselves at moderate.

John Dreyer, associate professor of political science at the South Dakota School of Mines, said that sentiment is reflective of the rest of the country.

“They want to see themselves as someone who can read the issues and decide for themselves, but they’re still Americans, they have that streak of rugged individualism in them,” Dreyer said.

Although South Dakota is often known as a staunchly red state, the results from this survey seem to tell a different story. Just over 46% of respondents said they identify as either extremely-to-moderately conservative, while just under 42% of respondents fell under extremely-to-moderately liberal. However, these numbers are a far cry from the distribution of political power in the state legislature -- with the Republican party holding a 62-to-8 seat majority in the statehouse, and a 32-to-3 lead in the senate.

Dreyer said that this split in ideology isn’t reflective of state government and that people tend to be more beholden to party affiliation, rather than their ideology.

He’s also seeing an increase in more hardline conservatives and liberals. He cites the recent Georgia elections as a reason polarization may not hold in the long term.

“Georgia went from a solid, predictable red state, to electing two Democratic senators,” Dreyer said. “There’s been talk of Texas going purple for 15 years. So, I don’t think polarization is here to stay. We’re just seeing more of it because we’re so exposed to it because of social media.”

Dreyer says given how close the last gubernatorial election was -- we may already be starting to see some political shifts.

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