Politics Behind Pot Polling

Public polling is often difficult to come by in North Dakota politics. Yet, today housed on the front page of the Fargo Forum is a poll result on recreational marijuana. The poll was conducted by Odney Advertising. Why did Odney choose to make this public? Perhaps to deter people from getting out to vote. Who paid for the overall poll? North Dakota Republicans.

Odney Advertising has run political campaigns for North Dakota Republicans for years. Pat Finken, President of Odney, is currently the campaign manager for Kevin Cramer’s Senate bid. According to FEC reports, this election cycle Odney has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Cramer for Senate, Armstrong for Congress, and Hoeven for Senate. As of March of 2018, the NDGOP has spent $46,815 with Odney. Undoubtedly, that number has increased since the beginning of the year. Keep in mind, all of this is done while Odney simultaneously receives millions of tax dollars in state contracts.

The Forum article states, “Odney did the recreational marijuana poll in conjunction with other polling for statewide candidates.” In other words, they asked this question when they were likely polling for Wayne Stenehjem, Ryan Rauschenberger, and others. Don’t forget, Finken assisted Stenehjem for Governor against Doug Burgum. He also personally dictated Rauscehnberger’s statement on his DUI arrest. Can it then be assumed that the Republican party subsidized the question?

So why make this particular result public? The likely purpose is to deter would-be supporters from turning out to vote. The political thinking goes, give people a sense the outcome they want is a long-shot and they might not show up to vote. Their own polling suggests their political opposition favors its passage.

The same politicians benefiting from this poll are the ones that overturned the public’s vote on medical marijuana. Nearly two years after North Dakotans overwhelmingly passed medical marijuana, potential patients still don’t have access to it. Because of that fact, some of the support for the current measure is a direct result of the political undermining of what North Dakota wanted. This is why it is important to provide the rest of this story.

Tyler Axness