I’ve got a confession to make. I don’t actually like writing about campaigns all that much. I’d rather write about issues, but when it’s campaign season and you run a political blog you write about the campaigns.
Suffice it to say, though, that I’ll be glad to see election season over so we can move on to a new legislative session in North Dakota, and a new Congress in Washington DC.
But since this is the last day of election season, let’s do some prognostications on the outcomes for some of the candidates so that when the election is over we can all call each other names based on who was right and wrong.
President: Mitt Romney (R)
I think Romney is going to win taking Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire and Colorado away from Obama who won them all last year. Or, in other words, I agree with Karl Rove:
Senate: Rick Berg (R)
I’d be very surprised to see Rick Berg have anything less than a 5 point lead over Heitkamp by the time the ballots are done being counted. The average of all the independent polling done in October give Berg a 4.25% lead. If you look at just the last three polls, he’s got a 5.6% lead. And when you consider that none of the polls have likely taken into account the dramatic population growth in conservative western North Dakota, where Republicans tell me early/absentee voting has been going gangbusters, it’s not hard to pin another couple of points on for Berg. My guess is that he gets at least five, and probably ends up with a 7 point victory over Heitkamp.
House: Kevin Cramer (R)
It’s been more than a month before any honest observer thought North Dakota’s House race was really a race. Early on, thanks to strong fundraising by Democrat Pam Gulleson and some dissension in Republican ranks over Cramer’s decision to skip the NDGOP’s nominating convention, many (including myself) thought this would be a real race. But once Cramer emerged from the June primary as the Republican candidate, Gulleson’s campaign quickly faded. I’d expect Cramer to win by at least 10 points, and probably something more like 15.
Governor: Jack Dalrymple (R)
Dalrymple stepped up to finish off former Governor John Hoeven’s term in office after Hoeven was elected to office. While Dalrymple was Lt. Governor Hoeven enjoyed approval ratings in the 70% range, and Dalrymple will coast to easy victory on that inertia of good will, thanks also to the fact that North Dakota’s energy boom is making it pretty easy to be governor right now. Taylor has tried to campaign on angst over the environmental/social impact of the oil boom, but things in western ND just aren’t as bad as Taylor has made them out to be, and the tactic has gotten little traction. Taylor has also pushed ethics allegations against Dalrymple, asserting that campaign contributions from members of the energy industry are somehow bribes, and while Republicans certainly need to get in front of those allegations as they’ll be part of the Democrats’ long-term strategy to take back the state from Republicans, they aren’t likely to do Taylor much good on election day.
Public Service Commissioner: Randy Christmann (R)
Many Republicans have been worried that Democrat Brad Crabtree may actually win this race. Crabtree, unlike Christmann, was on the statewide ballot in 2010 and while he lost to incumbent Kevin Cramer, name recognition counts for a lot in North Dakota. Couple that with Crabtree getting a lot of headlines for his ethics accusations against Christmann and other Republican members of the PSC, and many were worried that he might win. But the only polling in the race showed Christmann with an eight point lead, and voters will undoubtedly remember Crabtree’s support for some very anti-oil, anti-coal policies in the past such as cap and trade.
Department of Public Instruction: Kirsten Baesler (R)
Out of all the races on the statewide ballot, Republicans probably have the best chance of losing this one. The first poll conducted in the race, in early October, showed independent Tracy Potter (formerly a Democrat Senate candidate and Democrat legislator) with a 10 point lead. The last poll, from just over a week ago, showed Potter with a 2 point lead. That shows a lot of momentum toward Baesler, but Potter was on the statewide ballot previously (he ran for US Senate in 2010) and, as stated previously, name recognition counts for a lot. Also, this is nominally a non-partisan race, meaning Baesler (who was endorsed by the NDGOP anyway) might not get as much of the benefit of Republican inertia from the rest of the statewide race as she might have otherwise. But Potter got a shellacking in 2010 in the Senate race, he’s got a long history of political extremism, and despite being a Republican Baesler has the state teacher’s union endorsement. That should be enough to give her the edge over Potter.
Treasurer, Auditor and Insurance Commissioner: Kelly Schmidt (R), Adam Hamm (R) and Bob Peterson (R)
There hasn’t been a lot of coverage of these races, mostly because incumbent Treasurer Kelly Schmidt, incumbent Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm and incumbent Auditor Bob Peterson are facing place holder candidates nominated by Democrats to avoid the embarrassment of allowing Republicans to run unopposed on the statewide ballot. Ask yourself if you can name any of the Democrats running against these incumbents?
Yeah, didn’t think so. And, just to pile on, the only polling done in the race showed Schmidt winning by 25 points, Hamm winning by 17 points and Peterson winning by 16.
ND Legislature: This will be an interesting year for legislative races, especially considering that the state just went through redistricting. Lines have been redrawn, and the ideological makeup of some of the districts have changed. Given that legislative races are almost always decided by just a few hundred votes, redistricting could have made a big change in some of the districts. That said, expect Republicans to lose a few seats overall if for no other reason than because they hold such a large majority already that it’s hard to imagine them gaining any more ground.
That’s my take. Post yours below.