Earlier this week I wrote that Doug Burgum is the known unknown of the 2016 election cycle. He’s made it clear that he’s very interested in running for governor, and that if he did run it would be as a Republican. He’s also said that he’d announce a decision in January.
When I contacted his spokeswoman Adrienne Olson on Monday and asked if a decision had been made yet she said, “I don’t have an immediate answer.”
So we political observers wait. Anxiously, because Burgum could have a major impact on this election cycle.
But something pretty interesting landed in my inbox yesterday. A SAB reader told me she received a call from a pollster using a number out of Tampa Bay, Florida, last night who was asking a lot of questions about a potential Burgum run.
“They started out with general questions about if I plan on voting in the 2016 general election,” the SAB reader who lives in Fargo told me. “The answer choices for most of the questions were: Very likely, likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, unlikely. Or some rendition of that answer.”
She said they asked who she would vote for in the general election in match ups between former Agriculture Commissioner Sarah Vogel (who seems likely to the Democrat candidate) and the two announced gubernatorial candidates – Rep. Rick Becker and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. Then they asked about Burgum versus Vogel.
“Then they went to the June primary and did the 3 potential Republican candidates against each other,” my reader said.
Now all of that could have done by any of the campaigns, but this is the part that makes it pretty clear that it’s Burgum doing the polling:
Then they went to outline Burgum’s life successes. His losing his father at 14, starting a software company that now employees 2,000 North Dakotans in high paying jobs. They also asked where I fell after they told me all of Doug’s accomplishments. And where I fell on the political scale…conservative-liberal and all the places in between. A specific question on the social issues.
That sounds like the sort of poll candidates typically run to measure their name recognition and appeal to the public. The sort of thing that gives a candidate an idea about what parts of his/her resume will be seen positively by the public and which parts my be worth avoiding.
Interestingly, the pollster was also very interested in question of the nominating convention versus a candidate who runs to the primary. It seems likely that if Burgum gets into the race that he’d run to the June primary vote – Kevin Cramer did in 2012 on his way to getting the endorsement to run for the U.S. House – as opposed to seeking the endorsement at the NDGOP convention. But that can be a risky move, and would obviously be something a candidate would want to poll before deciding.
“They asked about voting for the endorsed candidate in the primary. Would I vote for the endorsed candidate. Or would I vote for a challenger,” my reader told me. “Then they asked if I would vote for someone who sought the endorsement and didn’t get it in the primary.”
Here’s something else that’s interesting. Yesterday multiple friends, all of whom have worked in North Dakota politics in the past, got a notification from Twitter that someone they knew had created the Twitter account @BurgumForGov (see a screenshot to the right).
The name “John” was on the notification. The account doesn’t seem to exist on Twitter any more. I’m guessing that if whoever created it was working for Burgum they probably deleted it quickly after they realized the creation of it was kicking out inconvenient notifications.
I contacted Burgum spokeswoman Olson again yesterday afternoon asking about the Twitter account. She said there was nothing new to add about the campaign other than “it’s January” which is the month Burgum said he’d make an announcement, and that said announcement will be “forthcoming” on a timeline she wasn’t certain of.