As of Saturday afternoon, that’s where I put the over/under line, regarding how much of the Republican U.S. Senate primary vote that former Gov. Mike Rounds will receive when the ballots are counted Tuesday night.
Through the winter and spring I would have set the break line at 50 percent for Rounds in the five-candidate field. Two sets of changes took place in May, however.
Rounds’ campaign stepped up its efforts tremendously with its blitz of signs, its well-done newspaper stuffers and the candidate’s busy schedule of appearances at grassroots events.
Meanwhile the other four didn’t seem to pick up steam. They resorted to holding and/or attending news conference-style events trying to draw wider attention. The strangest might have been one candidate’s use of a four-letter vulgarity for a specific feature of female anatomy.
For Rounds to reach 60 percent requires that Stace Nelson, Larry Rhoden, Annette Bosworth and Jason Ravnsborg average no more than 10 percent.
I don’t hear anyone speculating lately about whether Rounds can get 35 percent. That’s the minimum set in state law to win a primary outright and avoid a secondary election three weeks later between the top two finishers.
I also don’t hear anyone, outside of those involved in one of the four non-Rounds campaigns, speculating that Nelson, Rhoden, Ravnsborg or Bosworth is going to win the primary.
I do hear some strong, long-active Republicans saying they simply won’t vote in the primary because they can’t stand Rounds but don’t want any of the other four.
Those same abstainers say they will vote for Rounds in the general election, however, because they don’t want the Senate seat to wind up in the hands of Democrat Rick Weiland or the two independents, former Republicans Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie.
P.S. — I was asked a few minutes after my original post whether Stace Nelson could reach 35 percent and beat Mike Rounds. That would require one in three Republican primary voters to mark their ballots for Nelson, and the other two-thirds to split between Rounds, Rhoden, Bosworth and Ravnsborg.