Two-Man Indie Band?

So the big news in polling today is the sudden arrival of South Dakota as a state that could affect control of the Senate, and possibly in the same confusing way as Kansas. SurveyUSA has a new poll out showing former Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican who had been expected to easily romp to victory, now up just three points over former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler, running as an indie, with Democrat Rick Weiland now just seven points back.

Unlike the situation in Kansas, nobody’s talking about dropping out of the race at this point, though SUSA finds that Pressler would win handily if Weiland dropped out, while Weiland would be in a dead heat with Rounds if Pressler dropped out.

Like Greg Orman in Kansas, Pressler says he won’t decide which party to caucus with until he gets to Washington. Yes, he served three terms in the Senate (after two in the House) as a Republican, losing to Tim Johnson (who’s retiring this year) in 1996. But he’s also a personal friend of Barack Obama, and endorsed Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

Now the SUSA poll could be an outlier, and I suspect the NRSC will be sending a lot of emergency help to Rounds while privately cursing him for somehow blowing a huge lead (controversy over Rounds’ support for and his brother’s role in the federal EB-5 visa program, which gives families of foreign investors a big advantage in applying for citizenship, has been a factor in his lagging poll numbers). But you can’t help but wonder what the evening of November 4 will be like if not only we are waiting for the usual insanely slow count from Alaska, and possibly two runoffs (LA and GA), but also not one but two indie senators who may or may not act in concert (and/or with Angus King). That’s some serious uncertainty, folks.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.