Burgum Polls Himself Against Heidi Heitkamp Ahead of 2020 Campaign

North Dakota governor candidate Doug Burgum addresses supporters after winning the Republican vote in the primary election Tuesday, June 14, 2016, at Ecce Gallery in downtown Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Governor Doug Burgum’s re-election campaign has been polling, and gave me exclusive access to the results.

You can read their full polling memo below.

There are a couple of things about this poll which are just as interesting as the actual numbers.

First, there has been some whispers in state political circles that Burgum might not run for re-election. In May he gave a somewhat lukewarm response to a question about running for re-election, which was probably the genesis for at least some of the murmurs. Burgum hasn’t officially announced that he’s running again, but that his campaign is releasing strong polling numbers for their candidate is a de facto answer.

Second, it’s interesting that Burgum’s campaign chose to poll their candidate against Heidi Heitkamp. It’s been speculated that she might run for governor, but of late it has seemed far more likely that she’s angling for a cabinet appointment should a Democrat win the presidential election in 2020. Does Burgum think Heitkamp is his most likely opponent?

The former Senator is probably the best case scenario for Democrats when it comes to gubernatorial candidate recruitment, but it’s still not a very appealing scenario for them. Her political star has faded, at least as far as campaigns go.

More likely Burgum’s campaign had a hard time coming up with another potential Democratic challenger who was worth contrasting their candidate with.

Try to name another North Dakota Democrat who would make a convincing challenger for Burgum in 2020. You can’t? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, on to the results!

The poll was conducted July 15-17 and included 500 likely North Dakota voters with a 4.4 percent margin of error. The firm 1892 conducted the poll. They worked for Burgum’s 2016 campaign as well. Head-to-head against Heitkamp, Burgum leads 62 to 33 percent. The poll also included a match-up between President Donald Trump and Democratic front runner Joe Biden which Trump won 60 to 34 percent.

This is a poll commissioned by a candidate’s campaign, so all the usual caveats apply. As a point of reference, last week I wrote about polling from DFM Research conducted in May which showed Trump leading Biden 54 to 39, so this polling isn’t that far off the mark.

By the way, in 2016 Burgum got over 76 percent of the vote.

As for how favorability, the 1892 poll has Burgum at 70 percent, Trump at 60 percent, and Heitkamp at 41 percent:

The DFM Research polling showed Burgum with 60 percent favorable and Trump at 56 percent.

Interestingly, both 1892 and DFM show strong numbers for Burgum even among Democrats. The DFM poll had Burgum at 37 favorable/34 unfavorable among Democrats. From the 1892 polling memo (see below): “Burgum is viewed favorably by 84% of self-identified conservative voters, 71% of male voters, 70% of female voters, 68% of seniors, 65% of young voters aged 18-to-34, and 44% of self-identified liberal voters.”

The 1892 poll is friendlier to Burgum than the DFM numbers, but whichever set of numbers you buy into (and remember, these polls were conducted at different moments in time) it’s going to be hard for Democrats to beat an incumbent who is popular with such a large slice of their own base.

Here’s the full memo:

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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