What Can Montana’s Senate Race Tell Us About North Dakota’s?
There hasn’t been any polling in North Dakota’s Senate race since mid-July, and that has created a lot of uncertainty in the race among Republicans who are admitting quietly that liberal Democrat Heidi Heitkamp has run a much more aggressive campaign than Republican Rick Berg. Their spin, casting Heitkamp as a surging underdog finding appeal in a red state, doesn’t contrast well with what data is available to us.
First, there’s the fact that Berg is dominating Heitkamp in fundraising among North Dakotans, by a more than 3 – 1 margin per the last FEC disclosure in the race. Second, there’s the fact that Heitkamp is rowing upstream against a strong Republican current. The Senate race is really the only statewide campaign in North Dakota in which Democrats are even considered competitive, and while there hasn’t been any polling done in a while, the average of what polling has been done shows Berg with a solid five-point lead.
And then there’s Montana. I had the opportunity to visit Montana for a week earlier this month and spoke with a number of politicos there. Like North Dakota, their Senate race between Republican Denny Rehberg and Democrat Jon Tester has been a lot closer than most prognosticators expected. Montana, too, has a similar political makeup to North Dakota. It’s a nominally “red state” that consistently goes for Republican presidents, but with a long history of splitting state-level offices between R’s and D’s.
But unlike North Dakota, Montana has had the benefit of a lot more public polling in the Senate race. And in Montana, Rehberg has had a consistent lead outside of a few sporadic polls done by liberal polling firm PPP. The most recent polling from Mason-Dixon has Rehberg maintaining a slim, but consistent, lead.
The Heitkamp campaign has been very, very at creating a self-serving media narrative showing their candidate in the lead. But when we look at real data, both from inside North Dakota and in the region, things don’t look good for Heitkamp.Tags: denny rehberg, election 2012, Heidi Heitkamp, jon tester, North Dakota News, Rick Berg