In the North Dakota Ag Commission race Republican Doug Goehring has a 10-point lead over Democrat Ryan Taylor with 14 days until election day.
There were 16 percent of voters undecided.
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.
Taylor’s campaign is where Democrats are putting their money on the statewide ballot. According to disclosures made to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office, Democrats have by far put more money into Taylor’s campaign than any other candidate on the statewide ballot. Including, according to FEC reports from yesterday, U.S. House candidate George Sinner. But Taylor doesn’t seem to be getting much traction. Polling conducted earlier this year by the Brighter Future Alliance, a conservative group that is currently running ads critical of Taylor, found Goehring to be polling at 49 percent to Taylor’s 39 percent.
In May Democrats released polling conducted by the Mellman Group which showed Taylor tied with Goehring. Democrats also released polling from the same firm in the U.S. House race showing Sinner with a 2-point lead lead over Cramer, but neither of these results seem to match up with independent polling results. Both of the Mellman polls claimed to use a “registration-based” sample of voters, but North Dakota does not have voter registration.
Let’s take a look at some of the specifics.
At the end of 2013 Taylor had told the media that he didn’t plan on running for any public offices in 2014. But then news broke here on SAB about Doug Goehring making some inappropriate comments to female staff, as well as accusations that he had created a poor working environment in the Department of Agriculture. Goehring ended up with a primary challenge from North Dakota Farm Bureau-backed candidate Judy Estenson, and Taylor ended up deciding he wanted to run after all.
Taylor has hit Goehring consistently on Goehring’s leadership qualities in the Agriculture Department, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt the incumbent’s standing with women. Goehring has a slight lead – 42-39 – among women, and a wide lead – 51-35 – among men.
Taylor performs best among a younger demographic, essentially tying Goehring among voters aged 18-39. Goehring, however, has a wide lead over Taylor in the age 40-65 and over-65 demographics.
Interestingly, this is a bit of a flip from the U.S. House race results where Cramer had a strong lead among the younger two demographics, while Sinner edged him out among voters over 65.
Much like in the U.S. House race, the Democrat did best among voters with a high school diploma and less while the Republican did better among those with at least some college.
It is conventional wisdom in political circles that Taylor – who ran for Governor in 2012 as well – doesn’t have a lot of appeal in the eastern part of the state. “The cowboy hat doesn’t play well in the Red River Valley,” is a statement I hear very often.
It appears, at least from these results, as though there may be some truth to that. Taylor significantly underperformed Sinner (who was elected to the state Senate from a Fargo-area district) in the eastern urban areas. In fact, Taylor came in under Sinner by nine points. Given how dependent Democrats are on the urban areas of the Red River Valley for victories on the statewide ballot, that really hurts.
Goehring, for his part, performed much better than Republican U.S. House candidate Kevin Cramer in the rural parts of the east. He scored a 44 percent to Cramer’s 35 percent, while Taylor’s 41 percent came in 5 points under Sinner’s 46 percent.
Not surprisingly, Goehring like Cramer cleaned house in the central and western parts of the state.
Tomorrow we will be releasing the results in the Tax Commission, Secretary of State and Attorney General races. On Thursday we’ll have polling results for Measures 1 and 5, and on Friday we’ll release the results of the two Public Service Commission races.