Politico: ND Senate Race Becoming Less Competitive Despite Democrat Polling

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In their most recent profile of America’s Senate races, Politico downgrades the North Dakota campaign between Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rick Berg even after Democrats released yet another poll claiming they are winning.

Reporter Dave Catanese says he’s been shown polling by Republicans showing the race breaking for Rick Berg.

On the same day Democrats leaked an internal poll showing Heidi Heitkamp up 4 points, Republicans emerged from the field with data shared with POLITICO showing the race breaking in Rep. Rick Berg’s direction by a couple of points. The tone of Heitkamp’s ads have hardened as she attempts to tag him as a shoddy property manager. Yes, there’s widespread agreement Heitkamp’s ads are better, but that’s not something voters usually pay attention to. Watch for the immensely popular Sen. John Hoeven to emerge late to help pull Berg across the finish line.

The rumors I’ve been hearing in North Dakota political circles matches the polling Politico has apparently seen. I haven’t seen any polling myself, but word is that Berg’s internal numbers look good and the anxiety among Republicans that Heitkamp might pull this thing out is starting to ease. Which matches up with some other metrics too.

Case in point, the Heitkamp campaign was bragging last week about breaking a Democrat record for fundraising from North Dakotans at over $1 million. Their problem? Berg was at the $1 million mark months ago, and while his campaign hasn’t released their most recent numbers, at the end of the last reporting period they’d raised more than 3x what the Heitkamp campaign has from North Dakotans.

The race is certainly tighter than Republicans ever expected it to be, but there’s growing confidence that ultimately Berg will emerge the winner. Which may actually explain why the Heitkamp campaign felt compelled to release (obviously cooked) polling showing themselves up in the race last week. In the state’s House race, the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee recently hung candidate Pam Gulleson out to dry, re-allocating money they’d committed to her campaign to other races.

Heitkamp, no doubt hoping to avoid a similar fate from the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee, needed to convince people that she’s still competitive.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. 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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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