Poll: Berg Leads Heitkamp By 5 Points

berg heitkamp

Rasmussen Reports has released a poll today in North Dakota’s Senate race showing Republican Rick Berg leading Democrat Heidi Heitkamp by 5 points. That’s a major blow for Heitkamp whose campaign has warred over past polls showing Berg with a lead, while releasing their own polls showing Berg losing. But in Rasmussen has a very good track record in North Dakota races, including calling the 2010 race between Berg and former Rep. Earl Pomeroy dead-on (Rasmussen’s last poll gave Berg a 10 point lead and he ultimately beat Pomeroy by 9.8 points).

That lead for Berg is down 4 points in the Rasmussen poll since July when he lead Heitkamp 49% – 40%, which is the first positive movement for Heitkamp in a poll since early summer, but there was also positive movement in the poll for Berg who is at the crucial 50% mark pretty late in the election cycle.

No link yet as the poll is still behind Rasmussen’s premium pay wall, but here’s the key result.

The Heitkamp has struggled to make “likability” a key component in this race, but she doesn’t have much of an advantage over Berg there. Some 50% of respondents view Berg favorably versus 53% for Heitkamp:

Just 3% of poll respondents said they weren’t likely to vote. The other 97% said they would be voting.

A Forum Communications poll from over the weekend showed Berg with a 10 point lead. Democrats were quick to dismiss that poll, claiming it undersampled Democrats. The Rasmussen poll has a larger sample of Democrats – 7% larger – but also a larger sample of Republicans (also 7% larger) and a much smaller pool of independents. Perhaps the sampling difference favored Heitkamp somewhat, but Berg is still maintaining a substantial lead.

This poll is pretty devastating for Heitkamp. The only polls in which the liberal candidate has had a wide lead are polls paid for and released by Democrats, and I’m not sure anyone is buying those.

Here’s a complete history of the independent polling in this race, the average of which gives Berg a +5 in the race.

Forum Communications, 5/3-5/8: Berg +7
Mason-Dixon, 6/4-6/6: Heitkamp +1
Rasmussen, 7/10-7/11: Berg +9
Mason-Dixon, 10/3-10/5: Tie
Forum Communications, 10/12-10/15: Berg +10
Rasmussen, 10/17-10/17: Berg+5

Here are the demographics:

Update: Here’s the full report from Rasmussen.

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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  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    I think the result in two weeks will be right in between these two polls.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I think you could be right. I’m not sure there are a lot of undecideds left in the state, but what few there are will likely break for Berg late in the race.

      My guess is Berg by seven points.

      • Rick Olson

        I’m standing pat with my prediction that Rick Berg will beat Heidi Heitkamp. My prediction is between a 5-to-9 point margin of victory for Berg. Remember that Berg will be going into the Senate slightly higher on the seniority ladder than Heitkamp would. Berg’s two years in the House will give him a few rungs higher on the seniority ladder. I think he’ll go in somewhere around 95th in seniority.

        If Heitkamp gets elected, she would naturally go into the Senate with no current political experience. As a result, I’m thinking she’d go in either 99th or 100th in senatorial “rank.” Bear in mind that the “rank” of a senator is all important in deciding such things as committee assignments.

        It even plays a significant part in determining the minute details of being asssigned office space in one of the three United States Senate office buildings in Washington, D.C. It’s unlikely that either Berg or Heitkamp would get Senator Kent Conrad’s current office space on Capitol Hill in the Hart Senate Office Building. Office space is handed out on the basis of seniority, and when a senator like Conrad retires, there are no guarantees about which senator will get the space.

  • Tim Heise

    As of yesterday, I have met and spoke with both canidates. I like them both but that does not matter. My vote goes to Berg.

    • Robert Portly

      Why as a young person with a child would you vote for a sap for the rich that would rather fight for tax cuts than a decent future for you kid. You will be so sorry when you see how the Republicans destroy the future. Did you learn nothing from the Bush disaster?

      • InTheKnow

        Spoken like a true communist Joel! Well done!

      • matthew_bosch

        I believe he is learning from the Obama disaster.

      • Hal625

        Families overwhelmingly vote Republican because Democrats have buried the middle class, just crushed them. No matter how hard you try to spin up the class warfare, the voters are engaged and won’t be fooled.

    • Rick Olson

      I agree with Tim. I mean Heidi’s a nice enough person. Lord knows she’s been through her own personal battles with the breast cancer and all. But you can’t dismiss the fact that this is going to be a rough cycle for the Democrats. Heidi is on the same ticket that a very unpopular president is at the top of. Shall we say, she can run but she can’t hide. All she will do if she gets to Washington, D.C. is that she’ll wind up being a rubber stamp to President Obama’s policies, if he gets re-elected. She’ll be a puppet to Harry Reid, who she will owe big time, because his PAC has sunk a boatload of cash into her campaign. To top all of it off, she says she’ll be independent and stand up to the special interests? Not likely.

  • Robert Portly

    North Dakota has a real chance to shake off the red neck image the Republicans portray for our state. Electing Heidi will send the message that we are not held hostage by the greed dogs. Electing Heidi will show we are a state of educated people that are not glued to Fox with our ears pinned to Rush. Sadly North Dakota has fallen into the grip of the fools who are easily scared, and bamboozled by the right wing propaganda machine. If the low information voters prevail in North Dakota it will pave the way for the Republicans to shovel more money to the rich with every kind of tax plan that benefits the rich. If good people will help in the rebellion against the lie mongers of the right we can make North Dakota into a state young people can be proud of, we can eliminate the 24,000 disgraceful children living in poverty and we can provide health care for everyone. The disgrace rained on our state by Berg and the other lickspittles for the rich can be stopped and reversed. It is your job to expose the deceit and lies of blogs like this and the other right wingers that prey on the ignorant. Lets work together so Rob Port can be driven out of the distortion business and find a respectable job he can be proud of rather than lying for a living.

    • Jay

      I suggest rehab, Portly. It will work wonders for you.

    • InTheKnow

      Hi Joel,

      Does Mr. Ingstad know you are f%$ing off while at work? I guess it doesn’t matter as RFM new owners will be handing out your pinkslip soon.

    • Jay

      Anyone else notice how Portly appealed to Dakotans to vote for Heitkamp by insulting them? Way to go there, Portly! You just alienated the people Heitkamp needs. Flipping amateurs.

      • Thresherman

        It’s sort of like watching the bunker scene at the end of Hitler’s life where he says the German people are not worthy of him.

    • matthew_bosch

      I do admire the Left’s usage of “buzz” phrases, such as “low information voters.” The Left acknowledges their chances are slim this year, so they incorporate the phrase “low information voters” which provides a justification for their eventual loss. The phrase insinuates that it isn’t their ideas that lost the election, but rather disinformation of their ideas, perpetuated by the Right of course.

      Well, denial is the first stage of grief…

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        Well they can’t ever just admit that they’re wrong, or that voters are rejecting their ideology. It has to be that we’re just too dumb to understand.

        Right?

        • matthew_bosch

          For instance when you hear the Left speak the condescending statement “You just don’t understand…” For which we all need to respond with “Please enlighten us o’ giver of “social justice” and “progress.”

          • $8194357

            10X…

          • ellinas1

            You just don’t understand…

          • matthew_bosch

            Touché

          • ellinas1

            Heh, heh!

      • $8194357

        They need to write a new song for the DNC..
        Buzzwords and B/S Could be the title….
        Leftist class envy divide and conqure communist B/S..

    • Hal625

      Vote Democrat so the rest of the country doesn’t think we are red necks? You are really bizarre! After being used by the Democrats for years, North Dakotans are very engaged and will not send the JOB KILLING Obama/Heitkamp team to Washington, DC.

  • Jay

    Berg has an average lead of five points in the independent polling (+9, -1, +7, even, +10, +5). That’s not too good for Heitkamp. Oh, Dakota, Shih Tzu, other lefties, Heitkamp’s going down. Her internal polls are the political equivalent of toilet paper.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Yeah, that’s the big message from the independent polling is that the polling the Democrats are releasing is worthless.

      I also think there’s a big problem with the Mason-Dixon poll. We now have four data points showing the Mason-Dixon poll as a major outlier.

      If you throw out the outlier, Berg’s average lead jumps to 7.75

      • dfm

        Rob, I enjoy reading your take. But what is obvious to me is that you know very little about public opinion research. That’s OK, most people don’t.

        First, one critique. Averaging polls from May and June with polls from today, well, that’s simply wrong. Sure you can do that, but why not average them from 2011 and 2010. See, it means nothing.

        Also, to call a poll an outlier that you don’t like, is also wrong. What special knowledge do you have to make that judgement. It is more likely that the Forum poll is an outlier, than Mason Dixon, so you should throw that one out, not M-D.

        Third, enlighten me, what is the big problem with the M-D poll? I’m curious.

        Bottom line, about the only thing we can say about this race is that it is close, and that is always has been. Whether a Raz poll, or M-D, or mine, or others, the race is within the margin of error.

        You like to criticize survey that are not ‘independent’. But what is most telling is the fact that we have not seen one … single … survey from Berg or the NRSC. And the fact that Crossroads and others are spending millions on a race that is (supposedly 7%pts in favor of the Rs, according to your calculations) is also telling. T

        The NRSC, Berg campaign, and Crossroads is all I need to know that this race is within the MoE.

        Time will tell, not wishful thinking. Cheers.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          First, one critique. Averaging polls from May and June with polls from today, well, that’s simply wrong. Sure you can do that, but why not average them from 2011 and 2010. See, it means nothing.

          Maybe because this race didn’t exist in 2010? But it really doesn’t matter. Even if we average the most recent independent polls we get the same result which is +5 for Berg.

          Also, to call a poll an outlier that you don’t like, is also wrong. What special knowledge do you have to make that judgement. It is more likely that the Forum poll is an outlier, than Mason Dixon, so you should throw that one out, not M-D.

          Maybe, but that’s just not my sense of the race. We have two polls saying one thing (Berg up with significant margins) and another saying a tie. I side with the majority of sources, not the minority.

          Third, enlighten me, what is the big problem with the M-D poll? I’m curious.

          For one thing, they didn’t release their partisan break down. For another, they’re not matching up with what these other sources are telling us. But, again, even if we include Mason-Dixon, and we just average out the most recent polls conducted in the last few weeks, we still get to Berg +5.

          I suspect you’re nit-picking with me because this race isn’t matching up with the Democrat polling you conduct.

          about the only thing we can say about this race is that it is close, and that is always has been. Whether a Raz poll, or M-D, or mine, or others, the race is within the margin of error.

          Among the independent polling, Berg is outside of the margin of error in two polls, both Rasmussen and the Forum poll.

          The NRSC, Berg campaign, and Crossroads is all I need to know that this race is within the MoE.

          Or maybe they’re just not taking anything for granted.

          I actually think this race isn’t going to be very close because of western ND. Population growth has been rapid out there, and will certainly skew Republican, and I don’t think any of the polling has taken that into account.

          • Jay

            All right, let’s play Dfm’s game. If we average the three summer polls, we get Berg +5 (+9, -1, +7). If we average the the three more recent polls, we get +5 (+10, even, +5). Either way, we get Berg +5 with only one poll from way back in June showing a narrow, margin-of-error lead for Heitkamp. You can argue the race is in the margin of error all you want, but two things become clear from the most recent round of polling:

            1) Berg’s support is at or near 50% in all three polls.

            2) Heitkamp’s support is erratic, bouncing from 40 to 45 to 47.

            Taking those two factors together, the logical conclusion is that Berg has more stable support with a higher upper threshold while Heitkamp has less stable support with a lower upper threshold.

            The polls don’t tell the whole story, however. Berg isn’t desperately releasing internals to show him competitive, has the advantage of a likely solid win by his party’s nominee for President in the state, and has received a larger number of in-state contributions than has Heitkamp. All of this indicates to me Heitkamp is in trouble while Berg is not. A number of factors conspired to keep Berg from breaking away as he should have, but as the race has wound down, the clear trend has been in Berg’s direction. That’s the objective reality based on the totality of the evidence. Get used to saying Senator Berg starting 1-3-2013.

        • Jay

          Dfm, no Republican has won this seat since 1958. Polls show Berg opening up a lead. It makes sense his campaign, Crossroads, and the NRSC would put last-minute money into the race to seal the deal. That’s what happens in late-breaking races to help assure victory. For example, the DSCC poured $8 million into the 2008 North Carolina Senate race to help Kay Hagan topple Elizabeth Dole after Hagan caught up to and eventually surpassed Dole. Come to think of it, Heitkamp’s demagogic, detached campaign resembles the final days of Dole’s reelection campaign. I expect the results to be identical.

  • Bob

    Interesting that both the Rasmussen and the Forum polls show Berg at 50%. Starting to look like a trend.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I agree. It’s not good at all for Heitkamp to have Berg at 50% in these polls.

      • Rick Olson

        I’m not quite ready to say Heidi’s toast…she could still pull it off…but it’s looking more and more doubtful as the days go by. As the old saying goes, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Well, I would say she’s definitely warming up in the wings right now.

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