Minority Leader Unseated in Stunning S.D. Upset
Daschle's loss marked the first time in 52 years a party leader has been defeated, according to the AP, and delivered a stunning blow to the Democratic Party.
Thune beat Daschle 51 percent to 49 percent, with 97 percent of the precincts reporting, according to Washington Post projections.
Target Turnout in Critical Senate Contest
"This is the best organization in the country," Daschle said Saturday as he went door to door in Sioux Falls, working for votes in the heavily Republican state. "You can't just do it overnight. It takes a lot of time."
John Thune, the former Republican congressman who came within 530 votes of ousting the state's other Democratic senator two years ago, said his supporters are ready to turn out to support both his candidacy and President Bush.
"I know we're better than we were two years ago," Thune told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper. "Are we as good as [Daschle's get-out-the-vote team members] are? I don't know. They've always been good at it."
One unknown for the GOP is how an ongoing investigation into the their turnout operation might impact its work. Larry Russell, who ran the get-out-the-vote program, resigned two weeks ago after allegations surfaced that some workers had filed improperly notarized requests for absentee ballots.
Focuses on Health Care in Fight for His Political Life
Thune Clash Over Iraq, Leadership in National Debate
The Online NewsHour's Vote 2004 is a part of PBS' By the People: Election
Your guide to PBS election news and resources