Poll: Berg still leads Pomeroy, but the race is getting tighterBerg is up 48 percent to 45 percent in North Dakota’s U.S. House race, the closest gap all year
Republican challenger Rick Berg is still in the lead in North Dakota’s U.S. House race, according to new poll results released Thursday — but his lead over Democratic incumbent Rep. Earl Pomeroy has dropped in the past month.
Republican challenger Rick Berg is still in the lead in North Dakota’s U.S. House race, according to new poll results released today — but his lead over Democratic incumbent Rep. Earl Pomeroy has dropped in the past month.
Berg now has a slight edge — 48 percent to 45 percent — in the race for the state’s lone spot on the U.S. House as Pomeroy runs for a 10th term. Just 1 percent of respondents said they planned to vote for some other candidate.
The numbers are based on a Sept. 20-21 telephone survey of 500 likely North Dakota voters conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a national pollster that has tracked the race each month since February.
Berg has kept a lead in each poll, with his edge over Pomeroy reaching a high point in an Aug. 10 telephone survey that put him up 53 percent to 44 percent over Pomeroy.
But Berg’s three-point lead this month is no longer beyond the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. And it’s the closest gap between the candidates that Rasmussen Reports has found this year.
The recent results also show a slight increase in the number of respondents who said they weren’t sure who they would vote for — 5 percent were undecided this time around, up slightly from the 3 percent who said so in August.
What it means
Democratic-NPL Party spokeswoman Meredith Pickett said in a memo to reporters that “it’s smart to be skeptical of these results.”
The party has long criticized Rasmussen Reports for having a Republican bias that benefits GOP candidates. In the memo, Pickett pointed out “strong ties” Scott Rasmussen, founder and president of the polling firm, has to the Republican Party — including a stint as a paid consultant to George W. Bush and the Republican National Committee.
It’s a criticism that Brenden Timpe, a spokesman for Pomeroy, also raised during an interview today. He said the campaign doesn’t “put a whole lot of stock” into these results because “their polls are designed to promote their candidates.”
“We don’t consider that a reliable source of information,” he said.
Timpe said the race between Pomeroy and Berg “has been close for months, and we expect it will be close right to the end.”
But campaign decisions won’t be made based on Rasmussen Reports polls, he said. Instead, Pomeroy commissioned the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group to conduct three rounds of internal polling this year that show the incumbent holding a slight lead over Berg.
A survey of 501 likely North Dakota voters conducted Sept. 10-12 put Pomeroy in the lead 46 percent to 44 percent. But those results also show a big jump in the number of undecided respondents — 10 percent said they weren’t sure who they’d vote for, up from the 3 percent who said so in a July 23-25 survey.
“Those are numbers we rely on that we take to give ourselves a good picture of what’s actually going on,” Timpe said.
Tom Nelson, a spokesman for Berg, countered Democrats’ objection to the latest results with a criticism of the Garin-Hart-Yang polls — especially because Pomeroy’s campaign didn’t disclose the survey’s questions or methods of getting the numbers.
“I would say I would be skeptical of their poll results,” he said.
Nelson said he didn’t want to speculate on a possible bias of Rasmussen Reports, but said the pollster’s monthly surveys clearly show what’s on the minds of North Dakotans.
“I know that for eight straight months we’ve led,” he said. “I think it’s a sign that our message is resonating with the people.”
The Berg campaign is satisfied with the position it’s in, Nelson said, especially after a month of “an incredible amount of false, misleading ads from an incumbent who has a lot of money.”
“I’m pretty happy with where we’re at,” he said. “Going forward, we’re in a position to win this.”
Johnson reports on local politics. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.