I had a conversation last night with a friend who does polling in North Dakota. He shared with me some numbers illustrating the North Dakota outlook on the presidential election.
He didn’t share with me any of the actual polling data, because he wasn’t at liberty to do so, so take these numbers with a grain of salt. But I am very familiar with this pollster’s body of work and trust that he’s telling me the truth, particularly because he doesn’t have any skin in the game as to the election outcome.
But your mileage will vary. We’ll find out what the actual numbers are next week.
Anyway, here are the numbers as he described them to me:
- Trump – 50 percent
- Clinton – 15 percent
- Johnson – 9 percent
- Others – 3 percent
- Undecided – 23 percent
There are three conclusions to draw from these numbers
First, that Trump is just at 50 percent less than a week from election day – with nearly 80,000 ballots cast already as I write this – tells me there is a detectable level of dissatisfaction with his campaign among North Dakota’s Republican voters. There are a lot of undecideds, and Johnson’s support at 9 percent is significantly higher than the 1.62 percent of the vote he got in 2012 (Libertarian candidate Bob Barr got 0.43 percent of the vote that cycle). In a more typical election cycle I think Trump would be further over 50 percent, with fewer undecideds and less support for a third party candidate.
Second, the relatively weak support for Trump isn’t translating into support for Clinton. It’s worth remembering that Barack Obama got over 38 percent of the North Dakota vote during his re-election campaign in 2012. He got over 44 percent in 2008. If these numbers are to be believed, Clinton is on pace to seriously under perform Obama. Even if every single undecided voter in this poll broke her way she’d still just tie Obama’s 2008 number.
That’s bad. Like, really bad.
Which brings me to a third conclusion: The Democrats investing time in beating up North Dakota Republicans over Trump probably isn’t paying any dividends. Clinton, at least based on these numbers, is far more toxic than Trump is to most of the state’s electorate.
You’d think that maybe Trump would be a liability in some of the legislative districts in the more liberal parts of the state, but my pollster friend Clinton tops out at 19 in the Red River Valley as a region and, in her strongest legislative districts, splits with Trump 50/50.
I would not have guessed that to be the case. And maybe it’s not. This is just one poll, after all