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Democrat Investment in South Dakota: An Expensive Publicity Gambit?

Democrat Investment in South Dakota: An Expensive Publicity Gambit?

What’s the price for a series of headlines suggesting the political landscape for control of the Senate has shifted significantly in the Democrats’ favor? Key GOP operatives say the $1 million ad buy in South Dakota purchased just that – and that the race isn’t really in danger for Republican Gov. Mike Rounds.

Last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced that they would spend $1 million in South Dakota, mostly on negative advertising.

In response, the NRSC announced that they would match the the Democrat ad buy with a $1 million buy of their own in South Dakota.

The article cited a Harper poll showing that Republican candidate Mike Rounds was still earning 37 percent support, while Democratic Candidate Rick Weiland was trailing at 33 percent.

Likewise a New York Times headline “South Dakota Senate Race Suddenly Looks Harder to Predict” pointed to a SurveyUSA poll showing Rounds leading Pressler by 35 to 32 percent while Weiland trailed at 28 percent.

A million bucks isn’t chump change for either party in 2014, but with Democrats having a significant fundraising advantage, Republican strategists were happy to mock the DSCC investment behind the scenes, but many were unwilling to go on the record on the issue to avoid talking about the South Dakota race altogether.

Today, Roll Call reported that the DSCC is no longer reserving air time for ads in Kentucky against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and according to the Hill they are now shifting funds to compete Georgia. 

That’s a conflicting narrative that Democrats are feeling bullish about their chances in traditionally Republican states. 

One strategist scoffed at the DSCC’s decision to get involved in the South Dakota race, comparing to Mitt Romney increasing spending in Pennsylvania right before the 2012 presidential election to generate headlines.

Karl Rove happily predicted a Rounds win on Fox News over the weekend.

Rove said on Fox News Sunday. “I think at the end of the day Rounds survives, but this is going to be a barn burner.”

On Monday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee staff had little to say about a new DSCC ad attacking Rounds on immigration popping up in reporter inboxes this morning.

Instead, NRSC staffers were pushing their own buzz-building story about their organization spending more than $6 million to combat Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina.

For Rounds, the timing of the new attack ads couldn’t be more perfect for a last-minute fundraising surge for his campaign.

The alarmism was perfect fodder for creating a sense of urgency in a race that both parties have used and abused throughout the cycle with fundraising email pitches like “All Hope Is Lost.”

That was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who openly dismissed the chances for Weiland to win after the Democratic primary.

Reid was publicly pessimistic about Weiland even though Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle endorsed him and pushed for his campaign.

But Reid wasn’t finished yet.

The message was clear. Weiland is still a loser.

The “Independent”

Larry Pressler won’t say who he will caucus with if he wins his election, as he is running as an Independent hoping for the chance to play kingmaker.

In an appearance with Steve Kornaki on MSNBC on Sunday, Pressler looked uncomfortable and unpolished on television, spending most of his time trying to distract from his old voting record as a former three-term Republican senator who left office in 1997.

Pressler reminded the host that he voted for Obama, would actually be a “friend” of Obama if elected to the Senate and voiced his support for Roe vs. Wade and gay marriage. During the debate the following day, Pressler voiced support for Common Core.

It wouldn’t be long, Wadhams explained, before South Dakota Republicans realized that Pressler wasn’t the same Senator he was in the 90’s.

Pressler, therefore, is more of a threat to Democrats – battling the liberal businessman endorsed by Daschle for second place.

Both campaigns appear eager to punch down Pressler, as damaging stories have begun leaking in recent weeks about his record.

Pressler was revealed to have sat on the board of a brokerage firm while it defrauded investors of $140 million and has his principal residence in Washington D.C.

“They’re going to find out that he’s moved way far to the left, in fact there is no discernible difference between Weiland and Pressler on the issues,” Wadhams said.

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