What Does 2016 Mean for 2018 in North Dakota?

It was a bad night for North Dakota’s Democrats last night, as I’ve written about elsewhere, but what does it all mean for the 2018 elections?

Barring some unforeseen scandal or political calamity it’s hard to imagine Democrats doing any worse in the Legislature. They’ll spend the next two years holding just 13 seats in the state House and 9 (maybe 10 depending on a possible recount) in the state Senate. It’s also difficult to imagine Democrats picking up any of the statewide offices.

Among the 15 Democrats who lost re-election yesterday were some of the party’s rising stars. People the party might have relied on to run for statewide office in future cycles, except now they’ve been sidelined by voters.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]There’s still a long time between now and the 2018 election cycle, but the way things look today I wouldn’t bet on Heitkamp winning should she run. Hell, I’m not sure I’d bet on her even running again.[/mks_pullquote]

But Democrats could lose the one statewide elected office they do hold. In the 2012 cycle Heidi Heitkamp won a narrow victory over Republican Rick Berg to get a six year term in the U.S. Senate, but can she hold that seat in 2018?

Can she hold it despite endorsing Hillary Clinton? A presidential candidate who under-performed Barack Obama’s 2012 showing in North Dakota by 11 percentage points, and his 2008 showing by a whopping 17 points?

Can she hold it against a candidate who would no doubt enjoy the support of Republicans like Governor-elect Doug Burgum (he got 76 percent of the vote last night), Senator John Hoeven (78 percent of the vote), and even Trump himself (63 percent)?

Could she hold it against Congressman Kevin Cramer, should he choose to move from the House to the Senate for a challenge? Cramer is a political ally of both Burgum and Trump, and could no doubt count on their support for a Senate challenge, plus he earned 69 percent of the vote last night to earn a third term.

There’s still a long time between now and the 2018 election cycle, but the way things look today I wouldn’t bet on Heitkamp winning should she run.

Hell, I’m not sure I’d bet on her even running again.

As thoroughly, deeply Republican as North Dakota looks today, I’m not sure the state’s shift to the right is complete yet.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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