From what impacted the Smith vote to surprise results from the Libertarian Party; Looking back at South Dakota’s midterm election

RAPID CITY S.D – Nearly all of the state-wide elections in the 2022 midterms in South Dakota went as polls predicted. High-profile incumbents all retained their seats, and votes on ballot measures fell nearly perfectly in line with expectations. But not everything about the election was normal. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting results:


As is normal for a midterm election, turnout was significantly lower than in the 2020 election at only 59%. In constrast, over 74% of registered voters voted in the 2020 elections.

The areas with the lowest turnout are typically within Native American Reservations like Pine Ridge, but the turnout for these areas was especially low in 2022. Oglala Lakota County, which lies entirely within the Pine Ridge Reservation, had a total turnout of only 31.7%. This is the lowest in the state, and the lowest turnout that any county has had since at least 2000, which is as far back as the Secretary of State has publicly available data.

Turnout in Pennington County was the lowest in any non-reservation county in Western South Dakota.

You can see the turnout of each county by clicking on the map below:


The Smith Vote:

These facts were particularly impactful on the gubernatorial race, where low turnout appears to have harmed Jamie Smith's results. Nearly every county with the lowest turnout, including the counties within reservations as well as Pennington and Minnehaha, were counties where Smith had an above-average level of support.

Meanwhile, the counties with the highest voter turnout were also the counties most likely to support Kristi Noem. Haakon County, for example, had a turnout just over 71%, and only 8% of voters there voted for Smith.

The map of Jamie Smith's support is almost the exact opposite of the voter turnout map:

Historic Noem Vote:

On the other side, Noem secured an impressive victory, winning more votes than any governor in the history of South Dakota at 217,005. The previous record was Mike Rounds with 206,990. This is closely connected to the trends above. Strong voter turnout in rural, deeply conservative counties that voted primarily for Noem, like Haakon County, were crucial in this record.

Check out these photos from Election Day:

The Libertarians:

While commonly not seen as having a realistic chance to attain any major seats at the national level, one Libertarian candidate managed to secure an impressive portion of the vote.

Collin Duprel, the Libertarian candidate running for South Dakota's Congressional House Seat, managed get 22.6% of the vote running against Republican incumbent Dusty Johnson.

Duprel even managed to win two counties, Oglala Lakota and Todd. Both of these are counties within Native American reservations.

It is worth noting that Johnson did not have a challenger from the Democratic party, and so these results may simply show anti-Republican or anti-Johnson sentiment, rather than any explicit support for a Libertarian policy platform.

26% of Pennington county voters cast their ballot for Duprel.

Categories: Politics & Elections, South Dakota News