Internal poll: Rounds surges ahead in South Dakota
© Greg Nash

Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) has surged to a 24-percentage-point lead in the state's Senate race, according to a new internal poll released by his campaign.

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The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Rounds's campaign, gives the Republican 48 percent support among likely voters, with 24 percent backing Democrat Rick Weiland; independent Larry Pressler takes another 16 percent. Independent Gordon Howie takes 3 percent, and 6 percent are undecided.

That's a striking gain of 11 points over two weeks for Rounds. He was taking 37 percent support in an Oct. 6 poll, while Weiland and Pressler both drew 24 percent.

When it became clear earlier this month that Rounds was facing a tougher fight for the seat than most expected because of ongoing questions about his involvement with a controversial state economic investment program, national Democrats announced a $1 million investment in the race to take advantage of the potential opportunity.

A number of Democratic outside groups have stepped up their spending as well, attacking Rounds with ads focused on the investment program. But Republicans have hit back, focusing a significant portion of their attacks on labeling Pressler, a former Republican senator, a closet Democrat.

The Rounds internal poll suggest the attack is working, and Republicans who turned to Pressler because of wariness with Rounds appear to be coming home.

The poll was conducted among 500 likely voters from Oct. 18-20 and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.