Trust the polls: Heidi Heitkamp is in trouble

First things first: The theme song of the week is ...

Posted: Oct 7, 2018 12:33 PM
Updated: Oct 7, 2018 12:33 PM

First things first: The theme song of the week is This Is It by Polly Cutter from the television show One Day at a Time.

Poll of the week: A new Fox News poll gives Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer a 53% to 41% lead over Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in the North Dakota Senate race.

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This poll is in-line with another recent poll from the race that also found Cramer with a double-digit advantage.

What's the point: Democrats need a net gain of 2 seats to take back the Senate in November. While Democrats hold small leads in the currently Republican-held seats in Arizona and Nevada, a loss in North Dakota would leave them with a net gain of only 1 seat.

Democrats could try to make up for the loss in North Dakota by winning in Tennessee or Texas, two red states that are much more accustomed to voting Republican. The Democratic candidates trail in both of those races.

The bottom line is that a loss in North Dakota leaves Democrats in a far worse position in the race for control of the Senate.

Perhaps because of the importance of North Dakota, a number of Democrats have argued that the polling in North Dakota may be wrong. Specifically, people like to point out that Heitkamp won in 2012 even though the public polling showed that she was going to lose.

It would be foolish to dismiss the idea that there could be a polling miss in the state, but I don't think it is likely.

There are a number of key differences with the 2012 campaign and this one.

Most of the public polling in 2012 painted a picture of a closer race than the polls do now. Indeed, there wasn't a single public poll that had Heitkamp down by 12 points in that campaign. The final public poll had Heitkamp down just 2 percentage points.

Additionally, Democrats released internal polling in 2012 to counter the narrative that Heitkamp was trailing. In October 2012 alone, the Heitkamp campaign put out two internal polls featuring Heitkamp leads.

When you combined the public and private polling, as Pollster.com did, Heitkamp was actually slightly ahead of her Republican opponent Rick Berg.

This year, there hasn't been a single statewide internal poll released by the Democrats to suggest that Heitkamp is leading. Moreover, it's not as if there has been a consistent pro-Democratic bias in the polling out of North Dakota.

In the last two competitive major statewide races before 2012, the polls, if anything, underestimated the Republicans. The final public poll in the 2010 House of Representatives race had Republican Rick Berg ahead by 10 points. He won by 10 points. In the 2008 presidential election, the final public poll had Democrat Barack Obama leading by 2 points. He'd lose the state by 9 points.

Now, we're still a month away from the election. Heitkamp's decision to vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court may help her, though polls suggests the opposite.

But polls can change. Indeed, when I take into account the fundamentals (e.g. the fact that Heitkamp is the incumbent and has raised a lot of money), my forecast is that Heitkamp will lose by 4 percentage points. That's a far closer race and within the margin of error.

But if the polls stay where they are, the forecast will grow worse for Heitkamp and it's quite likely she will lose. That would likely mean Republicans would continue to hold their majority in the Senate come next year.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35419

Reported Deaths: 1230
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds290851
DeSoto190019
Madison144638
Jones120349
Harrison113616
Rankin108715
Neshoba104577
Forrest99343
Lauderdale96381
Scott81915
Jackson77519
Washington72213
Copiah65315
Leake63520
Lee61222
Oktibbeha61128
Grenada5949
Warren59421
Holmes58641
Wayne56218
Yazoo5536
Lowndes54813
Lamar5347
Leflore53156
Lincoln52935
Pike49920
Lafayette4974
Sunflower4778
Monroe45635
Panola4486
Covington4355
Bolivar40518
Simpson3933
Attala38424
Newton37510
Tate35213
Adams35120
Pontotoc3466
Marion32712
Claiborne30111
Chickasaw29719
Winston29511
Pearl River28832
Noxubee2788
Jasper2776
Marshall2773
Walthall2627
Clay25811
Union25211
Smith24612
Clarke22325
Coahoma2226
Lawrence2092
Yalobusha2079
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18111
Montgomery1713
Calhoun1645
Humphreys16310
Itawamba1468
Tippah14511
Hancock14413
Webster13411
Jefferson1263
Tunica1233
Jefferson Davis1204
Prentiss1204
George1163
Greene11310
Amite1103
Alcorn1002
Quitman991
Wilkinson989
Tishomingo971
Perry874
Choctaw754
Stone742
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton460
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6433170
Mobile4753139
Montgomery4430112
Tuscaloosa263253
Madison21199
Marshall192611
Shelby164225
Lee157237
Morgan12695
Baldwin120711
Walker106131
Elmore102920
Dallas9969
Etowah95114
DeKalb9417
Franklin93216
Autauga67614
Russell6750
Chambers67427
Unassigned65328
Butler65129
Tallapoosa62869
Limestone6223
Houston5857
Cullman5716
Lauderdale5686
St. Clair5133
Colbert4956
Calhoun4905
Lowndes48122
Escambia4808
Pike4725
Coffee4244
Jackson4182
Covington41412
Barbour3942
Dale3911
Talladega3897
Bullock37710
Marengo35211
Hale34823
Chilton3232
Clarke3126
Wilcox3038
Blount2961
Winston2965
Sumter29113
Marion27514
Pickens2696
Randolph2589
Monroe2553
Perry2362
Conecuh2308
Bibb2211
Macon2159
Choctaw21212
Greene1959
Henry1533
Washington1418
Crenshaw1273
Lawrence1250
Cherokee1237
Geneva960
Lamar871
Clay852
Fayette821
Coosa651
Cleburne421
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