By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau
BELLWETHER COUNTY: Stutsman County has a small population and reports election results early. Those results have accurately predicted the statewide outcome of North Dakota candidate races for more than a decade.
MINOT, N.D. — Political junkies will be glued to election results across the nation, but in North Dakota results watchers may have a way to predict what outcomes will be early Tuesday evening.
Stutsman County, in the southeastern part of the state, is comprised of the area around Jamestown. With a population just north of 20,000, and with only 12 voting precincts, it often reports election results soon after the polls close. Since 2000, those results have accurately predicted the outcome of every statewide race.
Stutsman County’s bellwether status for statewide outcomes can often be uncanny even in races with razor-thin margins.
In 2012, the county’s results accurately predicted Democrat U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s victory over Republican Rick Berg. Statewide, Heitkamp won 50.24 percent to Berg’s 49.32 percent. In Stutsman County, Heitkmap won 50.61 to 49.07.
The county also predicted Republican Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm’s narrow victory over Democrat Jasper Schneider in 2008. Statewide, Hamm got 50.31 percent of the vote to Schneider’s 49.69 percent. In Stutsman County, Hamm received 52.35 percent of the vote to Schneider’s 47.65 percent.
In 2006 ,Democrat Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson won statewide by fewer than 2,000 votes. In Stutsman County, Johnson won by 12 votes.
The county’s predictive powers don’t extend to ballot measures, however.
Official vote counts for North Dakota races can be found at results.sos.nd.gov.