I’ve had some readers tell me they have been called to take a poll over the last few days. Judging by the volume of people I know who have received the poll indicates it is a decent sample size. One of those individuals said, “it was obvious they were building up Kevin Cramer.” Apparently, the poll is being conducted by Central Marketing Research. Below is what I’ve learned from a couple of people who have taken the poll.
Kevin Cramer really wants you to know he does town halls. In fact, it seems like that is one of the top items he intends to run on. I’ve pointed out before, Cramer is padding his stats here. Some are town-hall-in-name-only because sitting on a radio show with a friendly right-wing host shouldn’t count as a town hall. He obviously views this as one of his strengths.
Cramer is also trying desperately to spin one of the many unpopular positions he took at the beginning of this year. You may recall in January, the Republican-led House of Representatives unexpectedly voted to weaken the independent ethics office. Cramer joined those trying to gut the ethics rules for the incoming Congress. Less than 24 hours later, after pressure from the public and President Trump himself, House Republicans reversed their vote. Some have asked why Cramer wanted to weaken ethics oversight of Congress. They often point to the fact he paid his wife and at one time his children using campaign donations. By including the question in this poll, he is clearly worried of his earlier vote.
The poll asked favorable and unfavorable views of Rick Becker, Rick Berg, and Tom Campbell – all of whom have shown interest in running against Heidi Heitkamp who was also included in the poll. It is interesting to note all three of them likely have the ability to self-fund a campaign. Becker from his plastic surgery business, Campbell from his farming operations (of which he’s received millions in farm subsidies), and Berg through his association with Goldmark Properties (though he has been ashamed to publicly admit it in the past).
It is not clear who paid for the poll. I’m inclined to think Cramer’s campaign is behind it judging by the message testing against Heitkamp and for Cramer. The other option could be the Senate Republican PAC. However, you should remember just two months ago Republicans began to grow weary of Cramer after repeated public blunders including criticizing women for wearing white pant suits and defending White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s remarks on Hitler. Republicans began to woo Tom Campbell who said he’ll run for whatever is available in 2018.
Regardless of whether Cramer or the Senate Republicans paid for the poll, we know the race will be one to watch. What will be very telling is next quarter’s fundraising reports. Heitkamp raised $1.6 million in the first quarter compared to Cramer’s $322,000. Will Heitkamp grow her cash-on-hand lead? Will Cramer find something to run on besides holding “town halls?” We’ll be watching.