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United States Senate election in South Dakota, 2008

United States Senate election in South Dakota, 2008

November 4, 2008

Nominee Tim Johnson Joel Dykstra
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 237,835 142,766
Percentage 62.5% 37.5%

County results

U.S. Senator before election

Tim Johnson

Elected U.S. Senator

Tim Johnson

The 2008 United States Senate election in South Dakota was held on November 4, 2008. Primary elections were held on June 3, 2008.[1] Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Johnson won re-election to a third term.


  • Republican primary 1
    • Candidates 1.1
    • Results 1.2
  • General election 2
    • Candidates 2.1
    • Campaign 2.2
    • Predictions 2.3
    • Polling 2.4
    • Results 2.5
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Republican primary



Republican primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Joel Dykstra 34,598 65.74%
Republican Sam Kephart 13,047 24.79%
Republican Charles Gonyo 4,983 9.47%
Totals 52,628 100.00%

General election



Already a well-regarded figure, following health problems, Johnson became more popular. “South Dakota is a very kind state,” Steve Jarding, a Harvard political scientist, said. “People were rooting for Tim — Democrats, Republicans, independents — they wanted him to be O.K.” He also seen a pragmatic moderate. He got endorsements from the Republican Sioux Falls mayor Dave Munson and the NRA. Dykstra argued that Johnson voted 80% of the time with U.S. Senator Barack Obama and 90% with U.S. Senator Harry Reid. In response, Johnson pointed out his votes on the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court justices John Roberts/Samuel Alito, against flag burning, in favor for the Iraq war, Patriot Act, a ban on partial birth abortion, etc.[3]

One of the other reasons why Johnson is popular is earmarks. Recent examples include $248,000 for the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, $11 million for Ellsworth Air Base, $400,000 for Rosebud Sioux Reservation, and $37 million for Mni Wiconi Rural Water System. Dykstra opposed earmarks, leading U.S. Senator Tom Coburn to campaign with him.

In August, Johnson visited 20 cities across the state.[4] With nine reservations in the state, American Indians account for 10% of electorate. In 2002, Johnson carried 94% of the Oglala Sioux, the state’s biggest tribe.


CQ Politics rated the race as 'Safe Democrat'.[5] The Cook Political Report considered it 'Likely Democrat'.[6] The Rothenberg Political Report considered it a 'Safe Democrat'.[7]


Poll Source Dates administered Johnson Dykstra
Rasmussen Reports July 15, 2008 60% 38%
Rasmussen Reports March 4, 2008 63% 28%


General election results[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Tim Johnson (inc.) 237,889 62.49% +12.87%
Republican Joel Dykstra 142,784 37.51% -11.96%
Majority 95,105 24.98% +24.83%
Turnout 380,673
Democratic hold Swing


  1. ^ Horrigan, Marie (2008-03-18). "Sen. Johnson Rated Safe as Recruiting Woes Hurt GOP".  
  2. ^
  3. ^ Johnson campaigns on cash, Dykstra wants change
  4. ^ Johnson, Dirk; Herszenhorn, David (October 23, 2008). "In South Dakota Race, Gauging the Impact of a Senator's Health". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Race Ratings Chart: Senate CQ Politics
  6. ^ 2008 Senate Race Ratings The Cook Political Report, October 9, 2008
  7. ^ 2008 Senate Ratings The Rothenberg Political Report, September 29, 2008
  8. ^

External links

  • Elections & Voter Registration from the South Dakota Secretary of State
  • U.S. Congress candidates for South Dakota at Project Vote Smart
  • South Dakota, U.S. Senate from CQ Politics
  • South Dakota U.S. Senate from
  • South Dakota Senate race from 2008 Race Tracker
  • Dykstra (R) vs Johnson (D-i) graph of multiple polls from
  • Official campaign websites
    • Joel Dykstra, Republican nominee
    • Tim Johnson, Democratic incumbent nominee
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