Ratings Change: South Dakota Senate Moves to Toss-Up/Tilt Republican

May 13, 2013 · 10:55 AM EDT

Two of Democrats’ top picks to replace Sen. Tim Johnson (D) in South Dakota have declined to run, leaving the party’s hold on the seat in a precarious position. 

In the last few days, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, son of the senator, and former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, indicated they would not run for the Senate. Even though Election Day is still almost a year and a half away, there is no Democrat on the immediate horizon who could overcome President Barack Obama’s low rating in the state.

Democrats do have two-time congressional candidate Rick Weiland in the race. He has the support of former Sen. Tom Daschle, but would start a general election race behind former Gov. Mike Rounds (R), who is in the race, or Rep. Kristi Noem (R), who is a potential candidate.

Democrats could go back to Brendan Johnson, who didn’t make a public statement, but that could be a messier process with many of Brendan’s initial supporters now backing Weiland.

It’s still early, but this race no longer looks like a Pure Toss-Up. We’re moving the South Dakota contest to Toss-Up/Tilt Republican, making it the second Democratic seat in the Republican column. The GOP needs a net gain of six seats to win the majority.