North Dakota Political Ad Fatigue Benefits Heidi Heitkamp


Associated Press reporter Dale Wetzel has an interesting story up today about the intensity of North Dakota’s race for the US Senate between Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rick Berg.  Although Wetzel’s story seems to focus mostly on Heitkamp supporters weary of pro-Berg ads, I suspect that voters in the state are weary of pro-Heitkamp ads in equal measure.

Which is a real benefit to Heitkamp.

One thing Republicans anxious about this race have comforted themselves with is the fact that Berg has a pretty big fundraising advantage over Heitkamp.  And that is something of a comfort.  Through the last fundraising period, ending June 30th, Berg had roughly three times more cash on hand than Heitkamp (Berg’s fundraising total among North Dakotans is also more than triple Heitkamp’s).

To the extent that fundraising can be used as a measure of support among the electorate, it speaks highly for Berg’s campaign.  More North Dakotans are opening their wallets for Berg than Heitkamp.

But then there’s the question of what all this money is used for.  It is used for advertising, for the most part, and if North Dakotans are already inured to political advertising at this point in the election, the idea that Berg’s big fundraising advantage is going to allow him to “empty the silos” and put Heitkamp away down the stretch seems implausible.

Because there has already been so much political advertising in North Dakota, both campaigns have probably reached a point of diminishing returns.  That’s not great for either candidate, but it’s especially bad for Berg in that it somewhat neutralizes his cash advantage.

Berg’s campaign may need to figure out something more creative than more television ads as this race heads into the home stretch.

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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  • Jay

    I would argue political ad fatigue would benefit neither side, Rob. Berg’s COH advantage would probably lead to a win by default since Heitkamp would have less ability to get her message out in the home stretch. Nonetheless, I would argue Berg might want to take a page out of Obama’s playbook and use a chunk of his cash for voter registration and GOTV efforts.

    • Rob

      There is no voter registration in ND, but yes GOTV will be important.

      As for messaging, Berg needs to get creative beyond TV ads.

      • Jay

        I forgot about your state’s not having voter registration, Rob. Nonetheless, GOTV is essential. Romney and the NDGOP will be focusing heavily on that. Berg should get in on the action.

        • Rob

          They did last cycle too and were very successful at it.

  • $8194357

    I am so sick of it….

  • Harold

    Berg isn’t my most popular choice, but giving Obama another vote in the Senate by electing Heidi is like a nightmare coming true to me. And yes she can deny she’s a democrat all she wants but we all know thats a lie.

    • Rob

      There are a lot of North Dakotans who are going to make that calculation, ultimately. Not that Berg shouldn’t focus more on giving voters something to vote for.

    • Adolf Mittler

      At least Berg has his stellar congressional record to run on – hey, vote for me! A full 10% of America thinks me and my Tea Party cohorts are doing a good job!

    • $34543430

      As far as I can tell, almost no one particularly likes the GOP candidates (state & nationwide), they are just desperate to vote against democrats.

  • KJUU

    I’ve been having an enjoyable election season. I don’t watch TV, everything I see is via computer whenever I’m in the mood. I have satellite radio in the car. I occasionally see headlines in the paper in passing but most of the time my info comes from this blog and a scattering of a few others I have on RSS feed. I can click or not click.

    I think, and hope, the time is coming when political messages are delivered in a different way, and not forcefully. In fact, I can’t remember a single mailer I’ve received since the primaries, yay!

    So relaxing.

    • Rob

      The media is changing for sure, and a lot of people are like you who enjoy more control over their content.

      Some people think this is a bad thing, and that we ought to go back to when TV producers and newspaper editors decided what we saw, but I think it’s one of the best things for democracy that has ever happened.

  • borborygmi

    fatigue from all political ads. Blech

  • BergFan

    I’m sick of the advertising too, but mostly sick of Heitkamp’s. Her lie about being independent, when in fact she’s a hard core Ed Shultz grade leftist, and her constant whining about Berg being rich, which is a socialist class warfare tactic. And this breast cancer thing, I got tired of that sympathy trick when she ran for governor several years ago. And “Berg has gone Washington”! More slogans just as empty as Hope & Change designed to get the stupid to vote for a far left democrat bent on destroying America’s values as obama is doing.

    Fortunately, her ties to obama and his failures is a heavy anchor that will eventually send her campaign to the bottom where we will find many democrats including obama come November.

  • CAFS

    Berg can spend all the $ he wants, but he is still a lying s.o.b.

  • CAFS

    ND does best in the Senate and House with Democrats. Instead of voting party lines or “against” one party, do some research and find out what each candidate truly stands for. Berg had to be begged to vote for VAWA, which up until this year ALWAYS received support from Republicans and Democrats. He only decided to change how he would vote at the very last minute. I’ve met the man, when he was a ND legislator and as he was running for the US House. He is not an honest man. I want an honest, smart person representing our state and Heidi Heitkamp is both of those things.