Democrats Have Been Ignoring Western North Dakota for Years, and Tonight Heidi Heitkamp Paid the Price


Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who is running for re-election, talks to voters at AFL-CIO House of Labor in Bismarck, N.D., Nov. 5, 2018. Rep. Kevin Cramer, who latched onto Donald Trump even before he was president and never let go, ousted Heitkamp on Tuesday, flipping a key seat that was vital to Republican efforts to hold the Senate. (Hilary Swift/The New York Times)

A lot of people live in the Red River Valley in North Dakota. Heck, most of our statewide media is based there too. And what happens among all of these people in communities like Fargo and Grand Forks is they can believe that they matter just a bit more than the rest of the state.

Prior to the polls closing tonight I was texting with a Fargo Republican who predicted to me that Heitkamp “wins statewide by 2pts.”

“Feedback from doors in a solidly republican area of my district were not kind to Kevin this weekend,” this lawmaker told me.

The thing is, most North Dakotans don’t live in Cass County.

The results are still preliminary, and incomplete, but it was voters west of the Red River Valley who gave Republican Kevin Cramer what looks right now to be a landslide victory over incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

Case in point Ward County, home to Minot, gave over 44 percent of their votes to Heitkamp in 2012. As it stands right now in 2018 it’s less than 37 percent.

In Burleigh County, home to Bismarck, Heitkamp got almost 45 percent of the vote in 2012. The 2018 results so far show her with less than 38 percent.

In Stark County, home to Dickinson, Heitkamp got over 35 percent of the vote in 2012. In 2018 she got 26 percent.

Meanwhile, in the Red River Valley, Heitkamp’s 2018 weren’t far off from her 2012 figures. She put up 55 to 56 percent in the heavily populated Grand Forks and Cass Counties when she won her term in the Senate, and she mirrored those numbers in 2018.

But she lost a lot of votes in rural, eastern North Dakota, and she got absolutely mugged in the west.

Democrats have been largely ignoring western North Dakota for years now, and tonight Heitkamp paid the price for it.