The Doug Burgum campaign has released their third television ad of the 2016 election cycle (first one here, second here), and it pushes the button pretty hard on fears over the state’s budget situation.
It’s a smart move.
In addition to showing Burgum behind 59-10 in a head-to-head match up against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (who is widely expected to win the NDGOP’s convention endorsement in April), polling released earlier this month also showed 63 percent of North Dakotans think the state is on the right track.
I spoke with Dean Mitchell of DFM Research (which conducted the poll) and he said that while that number was a big decline from August of 2015 (when the “right track” number was 81 percent) it’s also higher at 63 percent then pretty much every other state.
So that’s the good news/bad news for Burgum. The good news is it seems voters have had their confidence in the state’s well being shaken, no doubt by the turn down in commodity prices currently hitting the energy and agriculture industries.
The bad news is that there are still a strong majority of citizens who think the state is on the right track.
That’s who this ad is aimed at.
But Burgum can’t just rely on convincing North Dakotans that the state is now on the wrong track. He also needs to convince them that Wayne Stenehjem – a guy who has been winning statewide elections with 70 percent of the vote – is also the wrong guy to put the state back on the right track.
That’s a tall order, but if any tact can win this race for Burgum, it’s this one.