Despite All the Attack Ads Kevin Cramer’s Polling Lead Over Heidi Heitkamp Has Remained Steady for Months


FILE -- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-S.D.) during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 12, 2018. Heitkamp is one of three Democrats who are up for reelection in states President Donald Trump carried and voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Yesterday Congressman Kevin Cramer’s campaign got some good news in the form of a poll from Anderson Robbins Research (commissioned by Fox News) which showed him with a four percentage point lead over incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

You can read the full polling memo here. It also shows Republican Kelly Armstrong leading Democrat Mac Schneider 48 to 34.

In the Senate race, Cramer has consistently led Heitkamp in polling going all the way back to February. In fact, despite all of the money spend on campaign advertising in this race, the publicly available polling from multiple sources has remained pretty consistent.

Here’s the numbers from the six public opinion polls conducted in this race since February. Just one, a Gravis Marketing survey in February, showed Heitkamp with a lead:

The average of all the polling shows Cramer with a 3.93 percentage point lead over Heitkamp. If we average just the most recent four polls, conducted since June, Cramer’s average lead jumps to over 5 percentage points.

Here’s a graph showing the polling trend:

This is all good news for Cramer.

The bad news is that his super consistent lead over Heitkamp is also super narrow, and we’re now in the home stretch of the election cycle when things can shift rapidly. If Heitkamp and the Democrats catch on to an issue where they get some traction (like, say, this soybeans thing) Cramer doesn’t have much of a lead to lose.

To that point, the polling gurus at still see Heitkamp with the advantage in this race despite the consistent polling lead for Cramer. In a calculation released this morning they find a 60 percent chance that Heitkamp will win versus a 40 percent chance for Cramer:

In the 2012 cycle Nate Silver and got burned in North Dakota’s Senate race. They predicted Heitkamp losing, and she won.

In fact, pretty much all of the publicly available polling showed Heitkamp losing ahead of election day, and then she went ahead and won anyway.

Nothing in this race is settled.