Our view: Middle ground may spark rise by Heitkamp
The region's senators fared well in favorability rankings compiled by the news and research company Morning Consult, and a few saw notable increases in their ratings -- interesting findings during a politically difficult time. The biggest surpris...
The region's senators fared well in favorability rankings compiled by the news and research company Morning Consult, and a few saw notable increases in their ratings - interesting findings during a politically difficult time.
The biggest surprise? The rise by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who jumped from the lower 50 in the rankings to No. 11 over the course of a year.
According to the rankings, Bernie Sanders, a Democrat from Vermont, has the highest approval rating of all senators, at 75 percent.
North Dakota Republican John Hoeven is fourth at 66 percent. Others from the region are: South Dakota Republican John Thune, No. 7 at 64 percent; South Dakota Republican Mike Rounds, No. 9 at 62 percent; Heitkamp, No. 11 at 60 percent; Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, No. 12 at 59 percent; and Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, No. 22 at 56 percent.
More than 140,000 registered voters were surveyed to determine the rankings, which don't mean much but do provide fodder for analysts.
Hoeven's rating cements his spot as the highest ranked Senate Republican. That's impressive.
But how could Heitkamp jump so far in so short a time?
It probably has to do with a rather centrist approach. An example came in April, when she supported President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It was a refreshing breeze in what has become a sultry partisan desert.
She has been a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that dragged along while her party delayed the approval process. She also has veered from many Democrats on gun control and even flirted with the idea of becoming President Trump's secretary of agriculture.
Whatever her reasons-and some will say they are politically motivated-her decisions over the past year have blurred lines and, we assume, pleased constituents.
Heitkamp's approval leap may give her more leverage as she begins a reelection campaign for 2018. It's still early and Republicans haven't named a challenger, but doing so may be more difficult if Heitkamp's popularity is rising.
Elsewhere, Hoeven enjoys high ratings and doesn't have to worry, anyway. He won't face another challenger for five years.
Klobuchar, in Minnesota, won't likely face a serious challenge in her reelection bid in 2018. Most of the attention in Minnesota probably will focus on the governor's race, and it's a good bet Klobuchar will ride her popularity to another term.
Franken, the least favorable of the region's senators at 56 percent, has time before he faces another election. He might need to work on that number, as Minnesota grows less blue and more red by the year.
In South Dakota, Thune and Rounds are unbeatable. Thune was unopposed in 2010 and he overwhelmed his 2016 opponent by getting 72 percent of the vote. Rounds, like Hoeven a former governor, is very popular in his home state and easily won election to the Senate in 2014.