Just 42 percent of North Dakotans want to see incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp re-elected according to a poll commissioned by the conservative Club for Growth. More respondents – 44 percent, specifically – say they’d like to see Heitkamp replaced with someone else.
Heitkamp has been aggressively fundraising from mostly out-of-state contributors ahead of officially announcing her re-election campaign last week. She’s also made national headlines by cultivating a cordial relationship with President Donald Trump even as Democrats nationally revile the man.
This polling, which was conducted September 10 – 11 and included 406 likely voters in our state (with 40 percent reached via cell phone), demonstrates why Heitkamp is working so hard.
She’s in trouble.
The polling also indicates that Heitkamp is trailing in a potential match up with Republican Treasurer Kelly Schmidt who is currently serving her fourth term in that office and won each of her last three elections with more than 60 percent of the vote:
Last week SAB readers told me they were getting calls testing both Schmidt and state Rep. Rick Becker against Heitkamp. That was probably this poll, which makes me wonder why the Becker results weren’t highlighted.
The poll also indicates that Heitkamp’s vote against repealing Obamacare is hurting her:
It’s hard to know how seriously to take this sort of polling when we’re still over 400 days away from election day. Especially when the group commissioning the poll clearly has an agenda in the race.
But it’s a data point worth considering. North Dakota voters have turned on Democrats in a big way over the last couple of decades. In 2012 Heitkamp barely – by a margin of just a few thousand votes – held on to a U.S. Senate seat the Democrats have held since the Eisenhower administration. She is the only Democrat to have won on North Dakota’s statewide ballot since 2008 when Rep. Earl Pomeroy was elected to the U.S. House for the last time.
So it’s not surprising that Heitkamp, in a state as deeply Republican as North Dakota is right now, is facing an uphill climb to re-election even despite her efforts to play nice with President Trump.
Still, Heitkamp is not a candidate to ever underestimate her. If Republicans want to win that Senate seat they’ll have to nominate a strong candidate who can run a flawless campaign.
Here’s the full polling memo: