On Tuesday, the first public poll was released in North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race. Heitkamp is leading Cramer 43-40 according to Gravis Marketing who conducting the poll. Just two days later, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) released their poll showing Cramer is leading Heitkamp 49-44.
What does this mean? Obviously, the race is tight. Both polls have the candidates at or near the margin of error. Expect this to fuel the call to action for both sides as these campaigns begin to hit their stride.
A couple of things stand out about the NRSC poll. It was first released to Roll Call, a publication in Washington. In their reporting, they said, “GOP polling firm The Tarrance Group surveyed 500 likely registered voters through live landline and cell phone interviews from Feb. 18-20. The poll had a margin of error of 4.5 points.” Did you catch that? Registered voters? North Dakota doesn’t have voter registration. Was this an error on the reporting side in Roll Call or what list did The Tarrance Group poll from? Full disclosure, I haven’t seen the NRSC poll so I do not have an answer.
The second thing that stands out is the timing of its release. Two days after a poll showed the Democratic candidate Heitkamp in the lead, the Republican committee to elect Republicans to the Senate, released a poll from a Republican firm to show the Republican candidate in the lead. Count me as a little bit of skeptic.
This campaign will be hard fought and expensive. A lot of polls will be commissioned and will come out periodically that each side will attempt to use for their benefit. Media will report on them and give a take as I am now and have in the past. It is important people take each poll in but it is also healthy to question motives and techniques used along the way.