Associated Press reporter Dale Wetzel has an interesting story up today about the intensity of North Dakota’s race for the US Senate between Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rick Berg. Although Wetzel’s story seems to focus mostly on Heitkamp supporters weary of pro-Berg ads, I suspect that voters in the state are weary of pro-Heitkamp ads in equal measure.
Which is a real benefit to Heitkamp.
One thing Republicans anxious about this race have comforted themselves with is the fact that Berg has a pretty big fundraising advantage over Heitkamp. And that is something of a comfort. Through the last fundraising period, ending June 30th, Berg had roughly three times more cash on hand than Heitkamp (Berg’s fundraising total among North Dakotans is also more than triple Heitkamp’s).
To the extent that fundraising can be used as a measure of support among the electorate, it speaks highly for Berg’s campaign. More North Dakotans are opening their wallets for Berg than Heitkamp.
But then there’s the question of what all this money is used for. It is used for advertising, for the most part, and if North Dakotans are already inured to political advertising at this point in the election, the idea that Berg’s big fundraising advantage is going to allow him to “empty the silos” and put Heitkamp away down the stretch seems implausible.
Because there has already been so much political advertising in North Dakota, both campaigns have probably reached a point of diminishing returns. That’s not great for either candidate, but it’s especially bad for Berg in that it somewhat neutralizes his cash advantage.
Berg’s campaign may need to figure out something more creative than more television ads as this race heads into the home stretch.