I’m Not Going to Apologize for Reporting Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s Horrendous Poll Numbers


Yesterday I wrote about new polling out from Morning Consult which shows Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s approval numbers among North Dakotans continuing to crater. It also showed that 49 percent of North Dakotans prefer not to re-elect the Senator, while just 35 percent say the opposite.

The trend for Heitkamp’s approval in this poll is noteworthy, because it shows a 26 percent decline in the incumbent’s approval number in less than a year:

We can have a debate about how meaningful these numbers are. We can question the methodology behind them. We can hold forth about their relevance for the competition this year between Heitkamp and her Republican challenger Kevin Cramer.

But it’s pretty clear that Senator Heitkamp and her employees and allies think this polling is significant given the way they’ve reacted to it. In a concerted effort to muddy the waters yesterday (the Forum News Service described it as a “pounce” which I think is apt) Heitkamp’s people went to the mattresses to attack me and a few others for reporting this news, because yesterday Senator Heitkamp was laying her mother to rest.

Here’s Heitkamp communications director Julia Krieger getting outrageously outraged on Twitter over it all (I had a laugh at a former Media Matters employee lecturing North Dakotans about decency):


Heitkamp Chief of Staff Tessa Gould, retweeting my colleague Mike McFeely, was also outraged (excuse the screenshot, she’s had me blocked on Twitter for months now, even though I can’t remember ever actually tweeting at her):

In a letter to the editor of the Fargo Forum Alison Tate, a Democratic operative and former employee of the state party, demanded an apology from the North Dakota Republican Party and my employers:

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s mother, Doreen, passed away recently after a long battle with Parkinson’s. On Thursday, the Heitkamps held the funeral in Mantador, N.D., and grieved together as a family.

But in a disgusting and shameful turn of events, that didn’t stop the North Dakota Republican Party and the Fargo Forum from attacking Heidi on the day she buried her mom.

The NDGOP posted to their Facebook page that “People have had ENOUGH” of Heidi. And to nobody’s surprise, The Forum’s basement blogger Rob Port continued his onslaught of nasty, obsessive attacks aimed at Heidi.

I’m sensitive to the Heitkamp family’s loss. When I learned of it, I expressed my condolences. In fact, I’ve even held back publishing another story about the Heitkamp campaign this week out of respect to the funeral.

But these poll numbers? I wasn’t in control of when they were published by Morning Consult, and I’m not going to apologize for writing about newsy things when they happen.

The national press wrote about the poll too, as did other news outlets here in the state. Were they also supposed to hold off in deference to the funeral? Did the funeral change any of the facts around the poll?

Of course not.

Let’s see this feigned outrage for what it is. A political ploy aimed at obscuring a negative news story and undermining Heitkamp’s critics, put into play by a political machine which frequently tries to bully the press into obsequiousness.