Like Pat Powers at SDWC, I have not yet looked at the historical records. I do seem to have the impression that no U.S. Senate election in the state has ever gone uncontested. Until now. Our state Democrats have failed to field a candidate against John Thune.
This is appalling. To be sure, Thune is probably unbeatable. In an ordinary year, or even a bad one for Republicans, he would probably be safe for reelection. This looks to be no ordinary year.
Consider the Real Clear Politics summary. In the last Gallup Poll, President Obama's job approval rating finally flipped to negative, with 50% disapproving to 47% approving. That will be a drag on Democrats across the country. Worse still, Gallup has the Republicans up on the generic question: "are you going to vote Democrat or Republican?" Republicans are ahead by three points. In the past, Democrats always enjoyed a larger lead on this question than they actually got in the general election. A CNN poll gives the Republicans four points. Rasmussen gives them seven.
If these numbers hold up, the Republicans will gut the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. It is not out of the question that they will take control of one or both houses.
Any Democrat running against John Thune would probably face insurmountable odds. From the start, she or he would be called a sacrificial lamb or something like that. But the people of South Dakota deserve a choice. Whatever you think of Senator Thune, and I admire him, he needs to face an opposing candidate. Senator Thune needs to be challenged to answer hostile questions. It looks like that won't happen.
The most basic task of the two parties is to present voters with a choice and create the setting for debate. This year it looks like the SD Democratic Party couldn't manage that.