We can analyze the election to death. Those who won can thumb their noses at those who lost. And those who lost can recite huge diatribes about why the winners didn't play fair, otherwise the losers would have won.
My opinion follows and yours are welcome. My comments will be largely about the House race, which at times was shamefully negative...on both sides.
What Noem did right: Her message resonated with voters who are disgusted with Washington. She paid a lot of attention to West River voters, coming here often and meeting voters here. She secured the very popular Sen. John Thune to assist her in the final weeks of the election. Her last television ad was perhaps her best.
In the end, I believe that she was able to communicate to South Dakotans that she is one of us.
What Herseth Sandlin did wrong: As an incumbent, she had two terms to develop a record she could be proud to boast about in South Dakota. And, she tried to do that with several of her ads, specifically those about her work with veterans and her "loud and clear" ad. But, primarily, in trying to draw a distinction between her and her opponent, all she could come up with was Noem's traffic record. And, that just wasn't enough. Discussions about possible conflicts of interest with her lobbyist husband, she implied the issue was laughable. But nobody was laughing. In the end, (my opinion) Herseth Sandlin made the same mistake that Tom Daschle and George McGovern made before her: She forgot who sent her to Washington.
As Kristi Noem begins her career in national politics, it is clear to me that Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's career is far from over. She is a bright, articulate and passionate public servant. She appears bright enough to not make the same mistakes twice. We wish her well.
And, in the Noem camp, the workers have probably breathed a huge sigh of relief and are now asking themselves, "What now?"
Here's what now:
1. Go to Washington and do exactly what you've said you would do.
2. Come back to the state often and meet with the people who sent you to Congress AND the people who voted for your opponent.
3. Do not allow yourself to be corrupted by the process, thereby becoming part of the problem instead of the solution.
4. Learn from, and work with, Democrats without sacrificing your conservative principles. Find a way to be a catalyst in reversing the polarity in American politics.
5. Learn. Then apply the knowledge to achieving good. A legacy of statesmanship is preferable to a legacy of incumbency and longevity.