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Daschle struggled to differentiate himself from a national party decidedly more liberal than the average South Dakota voter. He was also hurt by the fact that he had not been seriously challenged since 1986.
Thune ran an ad late in the race that featured footage of Daschle saying he was a “D.C. resident” and defending the right of women to have abortions. This seemed to crystallize the choice for many voters.
Thune won by 2,000 votes — the first candidate to oust a Senate leader since 1952.