Analyzing the election results across South Dakota

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 6:23 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The counting of ballots is almost wrapped up in South Dakota and many are beginning to figure out what the results mean for future elections. Jon Schaff, a professor of political science at Northern State University, says the election came as a win for the South Dakota Republican Party, increasing their majority in both the state House and Senate.

“Even in relatively Democratic legislative districts, Republicans did well. And I think that’s a little bit of a surprise that even some of those Democrats who are in pretty good Democratic districts, some of them lost,” Schaff says.

But for many, the biggest surprise of the night was the legalization of recreational marijuana. Schaff says that while similar proposals have failed in the past, the issue has picked up bipartisan support from voters in the previous decade.

“I think marijuana, legalization of marijuana is an issue, that there’s at least cross-ideological attraction to it.”

And it’s not just a change in position on the issue. Younger voters are increasingly supportive of legalizing marijuana, helping add to the margin of victory for both Constitutional Amendment A and Initiated Measure 26.

“There is a generational shift on these things. And the younger generation is clearly more pro-legalization of marijuana,” Schaff says.

Schaff says that while the results show South Dakota staying a majority conservative state, state Democrats have been able to grab some victories through state ballot measures that traditionally would be fought over in the state legislature.

“But there are individual items on that agenda that maybe you can get a majority of South Dakotans to get behind. And we’ve seen over the years here and there, some ballot success by picking individual issues.”

Schaff says that it will take years to fully grasp what these election results mean for the state and voters, and only time will tell what they mean for future elections.

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