Mason-Dixon polling has released new data on the North Dakota Senate race, showing Republican U.S. congressman Kevin Cramer leading incumbent Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp by four percentage points, 48 to 44 percent — just within the margin of error.
The poll was conducted at the end of last week and surveyed more than 600 likely voters. Eight percent of voters said they remain undecided. Among men, Cramer has an edge of 55 percent support to Heitkamp’s 39, while Heitkamp is preferred by women, 49 percent to Cramer’s 41.
Among voters under the age of 50, the candidates are essentially tied, with Heitkamp at 46 percent and Cramer at 45. (Presumably, Heitkamp would have a larger edge among the state’s very young voters, who tend to live in the eastern portion of North Dakota and slant leftward.) Cramer holds a bigger advantage among older voters, receiving 50 percent support to Heitkamp’s 42 percent.
Interestingly, the poll also presents its results divided by region, revealing a stark breakdown between the east and west sides of North Dakota. In the west, Cramer leads Heitkamp by nearly 20 percentage points (57 to 38 percent), while in the east, Heitkamp holds a more modest advantage of 3 percent (47 to 44 percent).
Each candidate holds a distinct advantage in one of the state’s two biggest metropolitan areas: In Bismarck/Mandan, Cramer is up 56 to 37 percent, while in Fargo/Cass County, Heitkamp leads 54 to 35 percent. Fargo has the highest percent of undecided voters, with 11 percent of respondents saying they are undecided.
Heitkamp maintains a slight lead among independent voters — who made up one-third of the sample — with 49 percent saying they’d support her compared to 43 percent who support Cramer. Eight percent of independents say they remain undecided.
Much of Cramer’s success can surely be attributed to the fact that, since 2012, he has served as the North Dakota’s state-wide congressman, giving him high name recognition and a chance to build rapport and popularity among voters. As President Trump’s popularity remains high in North Dakota — and with these fairly encouraging numbers for Cramer — Republicans are right to hope that Heitkamp’s seat will be well within reach this November.