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One of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2014 cycle is Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota.  Johnson, who in 2002 was afflicted by a stroke, has served in the Senate since 1996 and has served South Dakota in D.C. since 1986, would trail both former Governor Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem which is not great news for Democrats.

Still there is some decent news hidden in the first poll of the South Dakota race and that’s the potential of a muddled GOP primary.  Public Policy Polling polled Johnson, former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Johnson’s son, U.S. attorney Brendan Johnson. in hypothetical matchups and here are their findings.

Democratic Primary Between Herseth Sandlin & Brendan Johnson

  • Herseth Sandlin-68%, Johnson-16%

This is an unlikely scenario but one worth noting.  It’s assumed that Tim Johnson won’t face any challenge if he doesn’t retire but Herseth Sandlin would trounce the younger Johnson in a primary.

Republican Primary Between Rounds & Noem

  • Rounds-43%, Noem-39%

Kristi Noem is a Tea Party favorite and while she may not be as controversial as Todd Akin, Sharron Angle or Richard Mourdock; she’s by far the preferred candidate for Democrats.  Rounds is the establishment’s pick and he has already announced his candidacy while Noem is still considering.  This would be very interesting.

Republicans vs. Tim Johnson

  • Rounds-52%, Johnson-41%
  • Noem-49%, Johnson-45%

This is pretty much an indication that Johnson will retire.  If he can’t even beat Noem at this early juncture, it’s not going to be great for him especially given his name recognition.

Republicans Vs. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

  • Rounds-49%, Herseth Sandlin-44%
  • Noem-47%, Herseth Sandlin-48%

The race becomes so much tighter with the possibility of a Herseth Sandlin candidacy.  She passed up a rematch of Noem in 2012 but seems to be setting up shop for Senate. She is now in D.C. as a lobbyist, which could hurt her back home, but as of now; she’s by far the ideal candidate.

Republicans Vs. Brendan Johnson

  • Rounds-53%, Johnson-32%
  • Noem-49%, Johnson-37%

Brendan Johnson is the prospect and I would assume he does have a future in electoral politics but he’s not ready for the Senate quite yet.  Nonetheless, a big idea for Johnson would be (especially if Noem runs and wins the nomination) to make a run for the House.  He has family connections, and one would assume fundraising, and while Matt Varilek was a progressive candidate; it didn’t fit well in South Dakota.

One thing is for sure though, the Republican primary will decide this race.  If Rounds wins, it’s clearly a Republican-favored race but if Noem wins?  We might have a toss-up.

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