South Dakota Senate Race Returning to Form

Stuart Rothenberg October 22, 2014 · 3:30 PM EDT

Republican attacks on Democrat Rick Weiland and Independent Larry Pressler appear to have worked, making it more likely that the GOP will pick up the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, as long expected.

Republican Mike Rounds, a former two-term GOP governor, found himself in shockingly uncomfortable position earlier this month, but his standing has improved in the eyes of both strong and weak Republican voters, as well as among Independents.

Support for Pressler, a one-time GOP senator who has said that he would be a friend of Obama if elected to the Senate and has acknowledged that he voted for Obama, has melted away over the past few weeks.

Rounds’s improved position in the race -- assuming that the trend holds -- means that GOP strategists will now have to worry primarily about only a couple of their own seats, in Kansas and Georgia, two red states where Republican nominees have handed ammunition to their opponents.