Poll: The Only Competitive Candidate North Dakota Democrats Have on the Statewide Ballot Is Heidi Heitkamp


U.S. House candidates Democrat Mac Schneider, left, and Republican Kelly Armstrong debate on Saturday, May 5, 2018, during the North Dakota Newspaper Association's annual convention at the Radisson Hotel in Bismarck. David Samson / The Forum

Earlier this week we got polling from Mason-Dixon, a well-respected polling firm retained by Fargo-based TV station Valley News Live, which showed Congressman Kevin Cramer with a small four-point lead over Senate incumbent Heidi Heitkamp. In an average of the three publicly-released public opinion polls dating back to February Cramer also leads Heitkamp, albeit by a smaller margin.

Today the folks at VNL released the Mason-Dixon polling for the rest of North Dakota’s statewide races and it’s not at all pretty for Democrats.

In the U.S. House race Republican Kelly Armstrong, though behind Democratic opponent Mac Schneider in Fargo, is ahead by a wide margin statewide:

When you look at the overall state, the Republican Armstrong stands at 46%, Schneider 35%, and 19% undecided. The Democrat Schneider has big support in Fargo and Cass County. He’s at 52%, Armstrong 32% and undecided 16%.

But that’s the only area he leads. In Eastern North Dakota, Armstrong is at 43%, Schneider 36% and 21% say they are not sure at this point. The numbers for Bismarck-Mandan reflect strong support for Armstrong, 53% to Schneider at 26%. Again, the undecided is substantial at 21%.

I’m surprised that Armstrong’s lead is this larger. I didn’t expect Schneider to be leading. I expected him to be keeping it closer than this.

Outside of the Senate race, the other statewide competition I thought might be competitive for Democrats is the Secretary of State race. Republican convention delegates took a chance earlier this year, passing on long-time incumbent Al Jaeger to embrace political newcomer Will Gardner. But Gardner has since exited the race in disgrace, Jaeger has gotten back in as an independent candidate on the general election ballot (with an endorsement from the NDGOP), and meanwhile Democratic candidate Josh Boschee has been doing well with fundraising.

But according to the poll, he’s way behind Jaeger:

The poll was conducted just last week from June 13th through the 15th. Four key statewide races were also involved in the poll.
Right now, the numbers show strong support for incumbents.

In the race for Secretary of State, Al Jaeger, who did not win the Republican Party’s endorsement and is now running as an independent, leads Democrat Josh Boshee. Jaeger 51%, Boshee 32%, Libertarian Roland Riemers 6%, undecided at 11%.


None of the rest of the statewide races seem very competitive either:

In the race for North Dakota Attorney General, Republican Wayne Stenehjem holds a comfortable lead over Democrat David Clarke Thompson, 64% to 27% with 9% undecided.

For North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, incumbent Republican Doug Goering leads Democrat Jim Dotzenrod, 57% to 32% with 11% undecided.

In the race for Tax Commissioner, Ryan Rauschenberger stands at 52%, Democrat Kylie Oversen 34% with 14% undecided.

Oversen, I should point out, is also chair of the North Dakota Democratic Party and Rauschenberger is coming off a DUI conviction from last year. So that’s gotta hurt.

For some reason VNL didn’t poll the Public Service Commission races, or at least hasn’t released the results yet. Republican Commissioner Randy Christmann is up for re-election at the end of his six-year term. Republican Commissioner Brian Kroshus was appointed by Governor Doug Burgum to fill Brian Kalk’s unexpired term. Per state law that appointment has to be confirmed on the ballot this year. If Kroshus wins he’ll have to run for re-election next year at the usual end of that term.