By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau
SKETCHY SAMPLE: State Senator George Sinner, a Democrat running for North Dakota’s at-large House seat, has relesaed polling sampling registered voters despite the fact that North Dakota has no voter registration.
BISMARCK, N.D. — Democrat George Sinner’s campaign has been using an internal poll showing a lead for them in North Dakota’s at-large House race to raise funds and leverage national headlines.
But the poll has what seems to be a big problem. It claims to have sampled registered voters in the only state in the union without voter registration.
“A Democratic source passes along an internal poll from the campaign of state Sen. George B. Sinner, who’s taking on incumbent Rep. Kevin Cramer, that shows Sinner not only within the 5 percent margin of error but with a slight 40-38 edge among registered voters,” reported Politico’s Lauren French on September 26. French’s article was the first to mention the poll, and linked a copy of a polling memo from the Democrat-aligned Mellman Group.
In that memo the Mellman Group claims it surveyed 400 North Dakota voters using a “registration-based sample.” According to Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods, a registration-based sample is “comprised of a list of names, addresses, and oftentimes telephone numbers of registered voters.”
But in North Dakota there’s no list of registered voters. The state doesn’t require citizens to register to vote. In fact, North Dakota is the only state in America where voters aren’t required to register.
“I didn’t conduct the poll so I’m not sure what happened there,” Sinner campaign spokeswoman Hannah Johnson told Watchdog when contacted by telephone Monday.
Johnson said she’d provide Watchdog with more information about the poll, but so far hasn’t responded.
The Sinner campaign continues to tout the poll in its fundraising pitches. An email blast sent Monday morning touted the poll as evidence of a “dead heat” between Sinner and Cramer, and asked recipients to donate to Sinner’s campaign.
The poll shows Sinner with a 40 percent to 38 percent lead over Cramer, with 17 percent undecided. It was conducted from September 20 through 22 and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.
Sinner hasn’t officially released the poll, however. As of the time of publication there is no mention of it on Sinner’s official campaign site, nor has it been touted on the candidate’s social media accounts.
Cramer was first elected to the U.S. House in 2012. Sinner was elected that same year to the North Dakota state Senate. His 2014 campaign is his first as a federal candidate.
North Dakota required voter registration until 1951 when the requirement was repealed by state lawmakers. Currently a voter need only have resided in North Dakota for 30 days prior to election day and have a valid ID with a current address to cast a ballot.