Democrat Poll Shows Heitkamp Leading Berg By 6 Points


In the 2010 election cycle, when Rick Berg was challenging 9-term incumbent Earl Pomeroy for North Dakota’s House seat, all of the independent polling consistently showed Berg leading Pomeroy. Democrats, however, released polling they paid for suggesting that it was really Pomeroy who was leading.

On election day, though, when voters cast their ballots in the only poll that matters Berg won by 10 points. The exact margin Rasmussen Reports, who did most of the independent polling in the race, showed in their last poll.

Rasmussen is again polling in North Dakota this cycle, and so far they show Berg with a 9 point lead over Heitkamp. Democrats, though, are up to their same tricks as the 2010 cycle releasing polls showing their candidate either tied with Berg or winning.

They just released another one today, showing Heitkamp with a very hard to believe 6 point lead over Berg.

Former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) led Rep. Rick Berg (R) 50 percent to 44 percent in a Senate race poll conducted for the North Dakota Democratic Party.

The poll is a good sign for the Democrat running in a solidly Republican state. She vastly outperformed President Barack Obama, who trailed presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney by 19 points. …

The poll of 400 likely voters was conducted from July 24-26 by DFM Research of St. Paul, Minn. The margin of error was 4.9 points. The partisan breakdown of respondents was 42 percent Republican, 29 percent Democratic and 29 percent independent.

Another reason not to take this poll serious is that DFM Research is the same Democrat pollster which, at one point in the 2008 cycle, showed Barack Obama winning in North Dakota. Obama ultimately got creamed in the state, and is expected to get creamed again this cycle.

When I noted that result in a previous post, a representative for DFM Research got in touch with me saying that the 2008 result was from just a single poll, and that later polling had Obama losing in the state. They didn’t release that polling because their clients asked them not to.

Which just proves my point, I think. Polling conducted for candidates or political parties is, by definition, self-serving. They are only going to release the data that best serves them, and even then it’s really hard to trust the data.

News stories about polling can do a lot to shape how voters perceive candidates and a given race, and polling paid for by candidates or partisan sources is intended not to inform voters but to influence them.

I’m not taking polls from DFM Research serious, nor should anybody else. Independent polling is what voters should look to.

Update: Here’s the polling memo, which includes this description of where the voter sample came from: “Random numbers provided by the North Dakota Democratic-NPL State Party through their VAN program, which list every North Dakota voter with a landline telephone number.”

It’s easy to get the results you want when you’re sampling a pool of voters provided by the Democrats.

Update: The most interesting result of the poll, and the one that casts the most doubt on the overall results, is the one which has respondents overwhelmingly saying they believe Berg has been more negative than Heitkamp. Given that the big criticism on Berg is that he hasn’t been engaged in this race as much as some think he should be, and that Heitkamp is running far more campaigns than he is, this is pretty hard to believe.

This poll stinks of Democrats manufacturing desired results.

Survey July 2012 Dem-npl

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Bob the Builder

    I still think that Rick Berg is in big trouble. I don’t think Heidi Heitkamp is up by six, but if Berg was winning he would release his internal campaign polls. He hasn’t and that is telling. The race is probably tied. I also think you have to make a distinction between Super PACs and outside groups running ads as opposed to the campaigns themselves. Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign has not run negative ads on television while outside groups like the DSCC and Majority PAC have attacked Berg for his Medicare vote. On the other hand, Heitkamp has been negatively attacked by the Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS for her support of ObamaCare. That is probably where the 45% of people saying Rick Berg is running a more negative campaign number is coming from.

    • Rumple

      Why is it telling? I’m curious. How many campaigns release their internals on a regular basis? If he did, would the press print it or would anyone believe it?

      • Bob the Builder

        Candidates release their internals on a regular basis especially to change the narrative. Heidi Heitkamp did. This very blog published stories about it. As another very recent example, both Republicans in the Texas Senate run-off released their internals to show that they were leading. If Berg was winning by 15, wouldn’t he put it out there and generate the resulting stories to show that Heitkamp is not a viable candidate and discourage donors for giving money to her campaign?

        • Rumple

          I see what you’re saying , but media (not this blog, but the MSM) wouldn’t run his internal polls on a regular basis. IMO it’s best for Rasmussen or Gallop to give ND their numbers. It wouldn’t matter if Berg had internals that said he was up by 25, the MSM would still say it’s tied or something else crazy.
          I know what you’re saying and I don’t disagree 100%, but I just think that in this state, with a Republican, internal numbers wouldn’t matter. Just my opinion. I appreciate the conversation.

    • Jay

      All right. I’m trying to understand this. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS attack Heidi while the DSCC and Majority PAC attack Berg. Therefore, more people think Berg is running a negative campaign than think Heitkamp is. Huh?

    • Rob

      So that Heitkamp adthat has.Berg attacking women? That’s just a figment of our imagimatin?

  • Publius

    If you go back to the Berg/Pomeroy race, I don’t believe Berg released his internal polling. If Berg’s pollster were worth his salt, they would have tracked the Rasmussen poll that predicted the exact outcome. The MSM doesn’t typically report on internals, except if they are “in the tank” for the candidate that releases them (ie Daum from the Fargo Forum). They are typically used for fundraising etc. If I were Berg, and I were ahead, I wouldn’t release them either, I would let the independents like Rasmussen do their work. Those should be the ones that count. This poll put out by the Dem-NPL is just bull. Pure and simple. It is being used to combat the only truly independent poll done for the general election.

  • VocalYokel

    I am guessing that the ads calling Berg’s Mom a liar put Heidi in the lead.

  • Emil Kashuntz

    Berg is purported to be worth 23 million, and his mom, poor old Francie has to rely on social security, that should tell you something.

    • Onslaught1066

      It certainly does… She’s massively over taxed.

      Thanks, Lime, for pointing that out to us.

  • Emil Kashuntz

    Berg is an obstructionist rat out to destroy health care for the working man and promote tax cuts for the rich. What is so hard to understand about that?

  • Dux

    I would not release my internal polls….If Berg is really ahead…then he will save his money for the end. If he is quiet right now, I suspect he knows he is in a comfortable lead and waiting. Now one spends all there war chest if they don’t have to….They spend it if they are losing….