As South Dakotans cast their ballots in the 2020 Presidential Election, it marks the 33rd time the state has been involved in the process of choosing the leader of the nation since being granted statehood in November of 1889.

But a new study suggests that residents of the Mount Rushmore State are among the least engaged politically in the country.

WalletHub assigned each of the 50 states a voter engagement score based on 11 different metrics like the percentage of registered voters, amount of political contributions, civic education, campaign volunteer opportunities, and participation in local political groups and organizations.

Based on those numbers, South Dakota is 43rd overall on the political engagement scale.


  1. Hawaii
  2. Mississippi
  3. New Mexico
  4. Alabama
  5. West Virginia
  6. Tennessee
  7. Kentucky
  8. South Dakota
  9. South Carolina
  10. Indiana

South Dakota's reputation for supporting Republican presidential candidates is well-known throughout the country. In fact, the state has backed the GOP ticket 27 times in the previous 32 elections (84%), including the last 13 in-a-row.

The last Democrat to carry South Dakota on election day was Lyndon Johnson in 1964 when he beat Barry Goldwater 55 to 44 percent in the Mount Rushmore State.

Prior to that, a Democrat hadn't won in South Dakota since Franklin Rosevelt did it in consecutive elections (1932 and 1936).

The only other time South Dakota was carried by a Democrat was William Jennings Bryan in 1896, on his way to defeat nationally by William McKinley.

Voters in South Dakota did back a third-party candidate in one election, casting 71 percent of their votes for Theodore Roosevelt, running on the Bull Moose Party ticket in 1912. That percentage is still the highest for any presidential candidate in the state's history.

In case you're wondering, South Dakota hasn't been a very reliable predictor of the overall winner in the presidential election history. In 32 elections, the eventual national winner has carried the state 18 times - just 56 percent of the time.

According to the study, the most engaged state nationally is Maine, which had the highest percentage of registered voters cast ballots in both the 2016 presidential and 2018 midterm elections.


  1. Maine
  2. Washington
  3. Colorado
  4. Maryland
  5. Wyoming
  6. Utah
  7. Oregon
  8. Montana
  9. Virginia
  10. Massachusetts
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