I have some polling from the Brighter Future Alliance – a North Dakota based 501c4 non-profit committed to promoting the free enterprise system and pro energy development public policy, as they describe themselves – in the Agriculture Commissioner and Secretary of State races.
Full disclosure: The Brighter Future Alliance was founded by Pat Finken who is also the President of Odney Advertising which, in turn, works on behalf of incumbent Republican Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. So read these results with that in mind.
We get so little polling on North Dakota political races, particularly the non-federal races, that I think these results are newsworthy even with that caveat.
The BFA polled both of the Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidates – Goehring and North Dakota Farm Burea-backed Judy Estenson – against endorsed Democrat candidate Ryan Taylor.
The poll was conducted after the Democrat state convention, March 31st to April 3rd. The sample size was 400.
Here are the results:
Republican Doug Goehring 49%
Democrat Ryan Taylor 39%
Republican Judy Estenson 31%
Democrat Ryan Taylor 47%
One thing to note is that Taylor polls strongly in both match ups. Democrats have struggled with candidate recruitment both for legislative races (latest numbers here) and statewide races, where US House candidate George Sinner drug his feet for months before getting into the race. But in the Ag Commissioner race, they really got the strongest candidate they could hope to get.
The obvious take-away for delegates at this weekend’s NDGOP convention, if we stipulate to this polling’s credibility, is that Goehring has a much better shot against Taylor than Estenson does. Though I’m not sure we needed a poll to establish that. Goehring has been on the statewide ballot before, and got nearly 70 percent of the vote in 2010. He’s been the Ag Commissioner for the better part of a decade. Name recognition alone is going to give him an edge.
But 31 percent is actually not a bad showing for Estenson given that she’s a first time candidate, she only announced her campaign a few months ago, and for the most part she’s been focused on campaigning for NDGOP delegates as opposed to a broader campaign for voters.
Here are the results of the Secretary of State race, where five-term Republican incumbent Al Jaeger is being challenged by former legislator April Fairfield who received the Democrat endorsement last weekend:
Republican Al Jaeger 55%
Democrat April Fairfield 22%
That’s a pretty wide gap. Fairfield came out swinging in her campaign announcement, with a laundry list of complaints about Jaeger’s job performance (many cribbed from SAB), but that doesn’t seem to have had an impact.
Of course, she didn’t announce that long ago. It’s early, but she’s got a mountain to climb if she wants to win.
The BFA released to me polling in the other statewide races previously. Here’s the results:
Republican – Kevin Cramer: 50.25%
Democrat – George Sinner: 30.50%
Libertarian – Jack Seaman: 3.5%
Public Service Commission Race #1
Republican – Brian Kalk: 52.75%
Democrat – Todd Reisenhauer: 24.75%
Public Service Commission Race #2
Republican – Julie Fedorchak: 45.00%
Democrat – Tyler Axness: 23.50%
Republican – Ryan Rauschenberger: 50.50%
Democrat – Jason Astrup: 22.25%
Libertarian – Anthony Mangnall: 6.25%
Republican – Wayne Stenehjem: 76.00%
Democrat – Kiara Kraus-Parr: 14.00%
The polling was conducted between March 5th and 9th, with 400 respondents and a confidence rating of 95%.