When Heidi Heitkamp first jumped into North Dakota’s Senate race, Democrats tried to make a splash with a couple of polls (from Democrat polling firms) showing her beating Rep. Rick Berg who is the endorsed Republican candidate.
Those polls, despite being obvious party propaganda, swayed some political prognosticators for a while (Larry Sabato, in particular, seems taken in by them) but in rankings of Senate races from four different publicans Heitkamp’s candidacy is given pretty short shrift.
Conrad’s retirement was met with joy by the state and national GOP, but we’re now hearing whispers “that Berg just isn’t a particularly good candidate,” says Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Republicans seem “legitimately worried that he might boot away what should be a relatively easy pickup opportunity.” Democrats, meanwhile, “believe that this is their sleeper race of the cycle, arguing that Heitkamp is underrated,” says The Washington Post’s Blake. But she’ll probably have to outperform Obama by 10 percentage points to upset Berg.
That’s not exactly a strong endorsement of Berg, but a) I think some in the national media are still putting far too much stock in that early Democrat polling and b) I think there’s an element of trying to manufacture a horse race here (which is very, very good for media ratings) where there isn’t one.
Barring some major scandal or gaffe for Berg, Heitkamp doesn’t stand a chance.