Minot, N.D. — One of the challenges in analyzing politics is that it can be hard to discern competency from incompetency.
When a candidate like Gov. Doug Burgum isn’t catching on, when they’re wallowing at the bottom of the polls, eating the dust of a large and galloping field of candidates, is it because they’re doing the wrong things? Or are they playing a strategy we can’t see?
The spin from the campaign apparatchiks is always the latter, but more often than not, it’s the former that’s true.
Burgum surprised me in 2016 when he beat well-known and well-liked Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem for the NDGOP’s gubernatorial nomination. I thought his campaign was generic to the point of being inauthentic. I thought Burgum was making a mistake. I thought the actual candidate was far more interesting than the purveyor of poll-tested platitudes he portrayed on the campaign trail.
Boy, was I wrong.