SDSU professor conducts straw poll

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

Political science professor Gary Aguiar conducted a straw poll last week asking for predictions on next week’s election.

While there was a split agreement on the winners of the races for Congress, the vast majority felt that Mike Rounds would achieve victory is his bid for governor.

Instead of conducting a scientific poll, Aguiar polled 60 “experts” – political science, history, and journalism students and professors – about their predictions for next week’s election. He also conducted a similar poll two years ago for the presidential election.

In the fall’s most contested race, 55 percent of the panel predicted a victory by Republican John Thune in the race for the U.S. Senate with 45 percent forecasting a victory for Democrat Tim Johnson.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be awhile before we found out who won the Thune-Johnson race,” Aguiar said. “It’s that close.”

The U.S. House race was also divided among the group as 57 percent forecast a victory for Democrat Stephanie Herseth with 43 percent predicting a win for Republican Bill Janklow.

“We know that the House race was going to be close,” Aguiar said.

The biggest agreement among the experts was in the governor’s race with 90% predicting a gubernatorial victory for Republican candidate Mike

Rounds. Only 10% felt that Democrat Jim Abbott would achieve victory. Despite the vast confidence in Rounds’ bid for governor, Aguiar was surprised with Abbott’s showing.

Aguiar said, “I was surprised that many people thought Abbott had a chance.”

As for Aguiar’s forecast, he predicts Herseth winning with a vote margin in the low 50’s and Rounds will gather a vote range in the upper 50’s. He feels that Johnson will defeat Thune by a very narrow margin, throwing out the final margin to be about “49.1% for Johnson to 48.9% for Thune.”

In Minnesota’s multi-party race for governor, Aguiar predicted that Independence Party candidate Tim Penny would win with about 32% of the vote.

He also said that the outcome could turn out different based on voter turnout, especially after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone last week.

Regarding the national scene, Aguiar feels that there are too many close races to predict who will control Congress after this election.

He said, “It’s likely it’ll be a week or so before we know who controls the Senate or House.”