For what it’s worth, North Dakota Democrats have a poll they commissioned showing Ag Commission challenger Ryan Taylor tied with Republican incumbent Doug Goehring.
The full polling memo is below.
The demographic breakdowns are to the right.
Note that, according to this poll, Taylor dominates Goehring in western North Dakota. Given that western North Dakota is one of the most conservative parts of the state, and Taylor is a very liberal Democrat, that’s interesting. And doesn’t quite pass the smell test for me.
Still, Democrats released polling during the 2012 cycle that consistently showed Heidi Heitkamp either tied with or with a slight lead over Republican Rick Berg even as independent polls showed Berg losing.
The Democrat polling turned out to be right, and observers like me had to eat our hats. So there’s that.
On the flip side, a poll released by the conservative Brighter Future Fund shortly after the Democrats held their statewide convention (polling was conducted from March 31st to April 3rd) showed Goehring with a 10 point lead over Taylor, and that was when Goehring’s convention challenger Judy Estenson was still in the race.
So there’s that, too.
I still think the Democrats release these polls less to inform the public than to manufacture a sense of a “horse race” atmosphere around races they’re targeting. They’ve clearly zeroed in on the Agriculture Commission race (remember, the Ag Commissioner has a seat on the Industrial Commission which oversees oil development in North Dakota, so it’s a big deal), as evidenced by the fact that Taylor has more cash in his campaign coffers by far than any other Democrat on the statewide ballot.
Including US House candidate George Sinner. With Republican candidates, cumulatively, enjoying a 584 percent
But even if Democrats are trying to manipulate the narrative of this race with polling, there’s no question that the race is going to be extremely competitive. And that Goehring is probably the most vulnerable Republican – perhaps the only vulnerable Republican – on the statewide ballot.