North Dakota Democrats are trumpeting new polling from DFM Research, the pollster who did a pretty good job of calling Heidi Heitkmap’s win over Rick Berg in the Senate race last year, which they claim shows that Rep. Kevin Cramer is “vulnerable.”
But a close look at the numbers indicates that it’s a pretty poll for Cramer. After that Heitkamp/Berg race last cycle Republicans shouldn’t take anything for granted, but it’s hard to see where this poll is anything Cramer should be worried about.
Here’s the polling question and results about Cramer, showing a strong plurality supporting re-election with just 23% saying they’d definitely replace him:
As you can see 21% are saying they’d consider someone else and 16% aren’t sure, but notice that the “aren’t sure” is a voluntary answer and something not provided by the pollster. I’ll bet that if the pollster had offered a “not sure” answer up front we’d see a lot fewer choosing the “consider someone else” option.
Regardless, stipulating to the accuracy of this poll, all Cramer needs to do against a named opponent (it’s easy for an incumbent to get low polling numbers against a hypothetical) is peel about 10% of the vote from the “unsure” and “consider someone else” categories.
That’s a pretty good place for Cramer to be.
The poll also asked respondents to grade the legislature. As a whole, 76% of respondents gave the policy-making branch of state government a “B” or a “C.” Ironically enough, when the poll asked about the “Republican Super-Majority” specifically, respondents actually gave a somewhat higher grade if you control for the fact that the second question drew a lot more “not sure” answers.
Grading an entire legislative body is pretty tough. I’d point to the national Congress which routinely gets approval ratings in the teens or lower, but consistently sees most of its members re-elected.
Again, not much here for Republicans to worry about.
At this point – and admittedly we’re still a long way out – I’d argue that the 2014 election is probably going to see a “status quo” outcome.