SAB Poll: 70 Percent Think North Dakota Is On The Right Track


This coming week I’ll be releasing results for our statewide elections as well as Measures 1 and 5 from polling sponsored by and Valley News Live. The polling was conducted by DFM Research out of Minnesota which has a strong track record of polling in the state, including calling the 2012 Senate race between Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp while working for the North Dakota Democrat Party.

The poll sampled 430 “certain” and “very likely” voters from across the state, with a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent. The polling included both landline and cell phone numbers and was conducted last week on October 13th – 16th.

Today I’ll release some of the topline results.

Right Track/Wrong Track

A majority of North Dakotans feel things in their state are going well. A total of 70 percent of poll respondents said North Dakota is on the right track, while just 17 percent said the wrong track.

Those who were undecided made up 17 percent of respondents.

That’s a pretty good number for Republicans, and not a good one for Democrats. North Dakota is government by large Republican majorities in the Legislature, and every single statewide elected office is also held by a Republican. A strong majority of North Dakotan’s expressing satisfaction with the status quo would seem to be an endorsement for the job Republicans are doing.

Meanwhile, North Dakotans have a much different opinion of things at the national level. Just 23 percent of poll respondents think things are on the right track nationally, while 63 percent disagree and 15 percent were undecided. With Democrats controlling the White House and the U.S. Senate, it’s not hard to see how this represents an obstacle for Democrats in North Dakota, though none of the races in the state this year have dealt much with national issues.

Approval For Public Officials

favorunfavorThe poll also asked the opinion of poll respondents about a number of public officials. Not surprisingly Barack Obama, who got just over 38 percent of the North Dakota vote in 2012, has a low approval number. Just 31 percent seem him favorably, while 61 percent see him unfavorably.

But that hasn’t translated into bad numbers for the only Democrat North Dakotans have elected on the statewide ballot. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who ran campaign that was sharply critical of President Obama in 2012, enjoys a 61 percent favorable rating with just 28 percent seeing her in an unfavorable light.

Governor Jack Dalrymple has the same favorable rating, though just 18 percent unfavorable. Senator John Hoeven has, by far, the highest favorable rating of those we polled at a whopping 79 percent with just 10 percent seeing him unfavorably.

Not surprisingly the candidates who are on the ballot this year – Rep. Kevin Cramer, Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring and their Democrat challengers George Sinner and Ryan Taylor – saw much more polarized numbers. This survey was done, obviously, in the midst of an election while the merits and criticisms of these candidates are being debated, so it makes sense that their numbers would be generally lower than those public figures not on the ballot this year.

Probably the most surprising thing in these results were the large number of “never heard of” responses for Taylor and Goehring. Most political observers in the state, including this one, predicted the Ag Commissioner race to be one of the hottest in the state given that a) Taylor is seen as the strongest candidate Democrats could have recruited and b) Goehring was perceived as weak due to a North Dakota Farm Bureau-backed challenge for the NDGOP convention (the announcement of which drew Taylor into the race in the first place).

But the high “never heard of” numbers tell me that North Dakotans aren’t really paying attention to that race. Which probably isn’t good for Taylor, especially given how much Democrats have poured into his race. In an election year that already seems to be trending Republican, in a Republican state, facing a Republican incumbent who got nearly 70 percent of the vote the last time he was on the statewide ballot you want people tuned into your race, not tuned out.

Coming Up

Here’s the release schedule for polling results for the rest of the week:

Monday: U.S. House race between Rep. Kevin Cramer and George Sinner

Tuesday: Ag Commission race between Commissioner Doug Goehring and Ryan Taylor

Wednesday: Tax Commission race between Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger and Jason Astrup, Secretary of State race between Secretary Al Jaeger and April Fairfield, Attorney General race between AG Wayne Stenehjem and Kiara Krauss-Parr

Thursday: Pro-life ballot Measure 1, and Measure 5 to create a conservation trust fund

Friday: The two Public Service Commission races between Commissioners Brian Kalk and Julie Fedorchak and their challengers state Senator Tyler Axness and Todd Reisenauer.

The Raw Data

ND Topline Polling Results