Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics’ official projections. The second profile in the series is South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Tim Johnson (2-term incumbent)
Republican: Joel Dykstra

History:
Tim Johnson looks to win his third term as Senator from South Dakota. Johnson ousted 3-term Republican Senator Larry Pressler in 1996 with a 2.6-point victory. Johnson won re-election in 2002 by 532 votes over soon to be Senator John Thune, thanks in part to the Libertarian candidacy of Kurt Evans (who netted more than 3,000 votes).

Johnson serves on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affair Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Indian Affairs Committee.

Dykstra, a state legislator since 2002, is currently the Assistant House Majority Leader in South Dakota.

Democrats have won 5 of the past 7 U.S. Senate races in South Dakota since 1986, and 9 out of the last 15 races since 1962. Overall, however, Democrats have only won 12 of 32 U.S. Senate races since popular vote elections began in 1914.

Outlook:
South Dakota was at one point on the GOP’s very short list of possible pick-ups in 2008. Senator Johnson experienced an arteriovenous malformation in December 2006, but decided to continue his political career with an official announcement back in October 2007. Senator Johnson is one of the nation’s most popular Senators, with Mount Rushmore State residents consistently giving him favorability ratings in the high 60s. His seat is safe.