Maybe It’s Not the Economy, Stupid

When pundits talk about a presidential election, the state of South Dakota never enters the conversation. That’s because it only has three electoral votes, which have reliably gone to the Republican nominee since 1968, often by 20-30 points.

Given that Trump handily beat Clinton in South Dakota, it is likely that the state will cast its three electoral votes to reelect him in 2020. That will happen despite the fact that Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) recently told Mike Allen that the presidents trade war with China has “caused the price of his state’s soybeans to plummet 20%, costing South Dakota half a billion dollars.”

Few states are more rural than South Dakota. It ranks as the fifth least densely populated state in the country. In addition to the service industry and government spending, agriculture is critical to the state’s economy. In other words, when it comes to the urban/rural divide, South Dakota clocks in at the extreme end of the continuum.

If, as expected, this overwhelmingly rural state continues to support Donald Trump, even as he decimates their economy with trade wars and funnels farm aid to corrupt foreign companies, it would be a clear signal that the president’s rural base supports him for reasons that have nothing to do with their economic interests. So keep an eye on South Dakota in 2020.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.