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

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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