The SAB/Valley News Live poll was conducted by DFM Research out of Minnesota. It polled 430 “certain” or “very likely” voters between October 13 and October 16 with a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent. DFM Research is a polling firm with a significant amount of experience working in North Dakota. During the 2012 election cycle DFM, working for the North Dakota Democrat Party, correctly predicted Heidi Heitkamp’s upset victory over Republican Rick Berg.
In the U.S. House race, the SAB/Valley News Live poll found that Republican Kevin Cramer is leading Democrat George Sinner by seven points, 46 percent to 39 percent, with Libertarian Party candidate Jack Seaman getting 3 percent of the vote.
There were 12 percent undecided.
These numbers are remarkably consistent with the other polling done in this race. As you can see from the images below, the Mellman Poll kinda-sorta released by the Sinner campaign was a bit of an outlier for Cramer’s level of support, while the University of North Dakota/Fargo Forum poll was a bit of an outlier for Sinner’s support.
Averaging the polls together – and giving the Sinner campaign the benefit of including that Mellman poll despite its methodology problems (there are no registered voters in North Dakota) – we see Cramer with an average 8.6 percent lead over Sinner with Seaman average just a bit more than 3 percent of the vote.
Let’s look at how the poll broke down along demographic lines.
Both Cramer and Seaman were more likely to get support from men than women. Cramer has a wide lead over Sinner and Seaman among men. Sinner has a more modest lead among women.
The lades were a bit more undecided than the men.
Cramer did well in all age categories except voters over the age of 65, and even in that category he effectively tied Sinner. It is surprising to see so much support from younger voters for Cramer. Typically younger voters are seen as more liberal voters, but here the opposite is true. The older demographics skew a bit toward Sinner, though never enough to give him an advantage.
I wonder if that’s Sinner’s name recognition working for him? Much has been made of the fact that George Sinner shares a name with his father who was Governor of North Dakota from 1985 to 1992, but how much is that going to help the younger Sinner with younger voters? How likely is it that 30 and 40 somethings are going to remember a gubernatorial administration from 22 years ago? Or have much of an opinion about it one way or another?
Those over 65, though, are likely to remember and have an opinion, and perhaps that’s why Sinner closed the gap with Cramer in that demographic.
Running somewhat contrary to what you might expect from the age results, Sinner beat Cramer among those respondents with an education level of a high school diploma or less. But Cramer leads Sinner, by wide margins, among those who went to college.
Overall the polling numbers look very good for Cramer, but this might be where Republicans get some heartburn. Cramer has a small lead in western cities, and a wide lead in the central and western rural areas, but Sinner has a large lead in the eastern rural areas and a small lead in eastern cities. North Dakota’s population disbursement is very lopsided. The Red River Valley area (eastern rural, eastern city) accounts for a disproportionate amount of the state’s citizens. So each percentage point of support in the east counts a bit more than the points of support from the west. Because there are more voters in the east.
But really, given how dominant Republicans are in western North Dakota, all they have to do to find victory on the statewide ballot is effectively tie in the east.
The Raw Data