A new Public Policy Polling release shows that two South Dakota Republicans have higher favorability ratings than three-term U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat from Vermillion.

The Senate seat will go before voters in 2014. Johnson, 66, will make a public statement on his political future by the end of March. Former Gov. Mike Rounds is in as a candidate and and some people want U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem to run as well.

A Thursday Public Policy Polling poll placed Rounds' favorability rating at 67 percent among South Dakota Republicans, while 17 percent viewed him unfavorably. A bit better in the PPP result was Noem, whose ratings were 71 percent and 18 percent.

The poll offers encouraging statistics for Noem to consider.

In hypothetical matchups with Johnson, Rounds leads him 52 percent to 41 percent, while Noem is running ahead 49 percent to 45 percent.

PPP found 44 percent of South Dakotans approve of Johnson's job performance, while 45 percent disapprove.

PPP also shares this: "(Former Congresswoman Stephanie) Herseth Sandlin is the strong favorite of Democrats to be their candidate if Johnson decides not to run again. Sixty-eight percent say she would be their choice compared to 16 percent who prefer U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson," who is Tim Johnson's son.

The poll also shows Rounds leads Herseth Sandlin by 49 percent to 44 percent in that hypothetical contest, while Herseth Sandlin would lead Noem 48/47. Noem defeated Herseth Sandlin in 2010, ending a period dating to 2004 where the Democrat had been the congresswoman.

Some of the state's Republican hierarchy is lining up behind Rounds. On March 14, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who had been the lieutenant governor under Rounds, said he supports his predecessor as the Republican candidate for Senate.

South Dakota Labor and Regulation Department Secretary Pam Roberts told the Sioux City Journal that Rounds is the favorite to win the Senate seat. She doubts he will get a Republican opponent, which would force a primary race.

"As a Republican, I just don't see why anybody else would run, because we have a great candidate that we can all get behind," Roberts said.

Rounds told the Journal he wouldn't be surprised to see another Republican get in the race. He said he's won primaries in the past and would work hard to do that again. Rounds predicted it will take a minimum of $8 million to successfully run a senatorial campaign in South Dakota for 2014.

Visit siouxcityjournal.com to read the complete blog post.