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MEMORANDUM To: Interested Parties From: Guy Cecil, Executive Director, DSCC Date: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 Re:

NORTH DAKOTA THE NEW TOSS UP


US Senator Kent Conrad is retiring from the US Senate next year with a very impressive 64% approval rating 1 and as of today with Heidi Heitkamps announcement the race to replace Conrad is officially a toss-up. For more than 20 years, North Dakotans have been voting one way for President and another for US Senate. For a generation North Dakotans have elected independent Senators that are loyal to North Dakota values, not their political party in Washington. Elected just last year, Rick Berg is already asking North Dakotans for a promotion. But unlike both the Democratic and Republican US Senators, and the Republican governor, Rick Berg has a net negative job approval. In fact, Bergs net job approval is a negative 22 points. Approve 69 64 61 33 Disapprove 25 34 30 55

Republican Senator John Hoeven Democratic Senator Kent Conrad Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple Republican Congressman Rick Berg

To make matters worse for Berg, North Dakota has one of the oldest populations in the entire country, and Bergs vote to dismantle Medicare is particularly damaging to him. Berg is already facing a primary challenge from his right, making his path to the Senate a little more complicated. More from pollster Geoff Garin, who completed a poll in North Dakota earlier this fall: Our recent polling among a representative cross section of 614 voters in North Dakota indicates the U.S. Senate race in that state is likely to be in play next year because of Rick Bergs significant weakness as the Republican standard bearer. In a generic trial heat, just 44% say they are inclined to elect Rick Berg, whereas 40% prefer electing a Democrat. Among the remaining 16% who are undecided, more than eight out of 10 are either Democrats or independents. Independents who express a preference say they would prefer a Democrat over Berg by 61% to 39%. Despite North
Memo to Interested Parties, Geoff Garin, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, 9/20/11 The interviews for this survey were conducted from August 14 to 16, 2011. The results are based on a sample in which 40% of respondents identify themselves as Republicans and 28% identify themselves as Democrats.
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Dakotas Republican leanings, the votes are clearly there for a Democratic candidate to defeat Rick Berg next year. A generic Democrat is only four points down from Berg in a state that does not like generic Democrats. Heidi Heitkamp is no generic Democrat. She is an independent, reform-minded, fiscal conservative, who is widely known across the state for her tough, principled leadership as Attorney General and her fight against big tobacco companies to help North Dakota taxpayers. Heitkamp followed Conrad into public service, and Conrad has strongly encouraged Heitkamp to run for Senate. Heitkamp won each of her Attorney General races with at least 62% of the vote. According to the most recent polling, Heitkamp and Berg are about equally well known, but Heitkamp has a +13% favorablility rating (44/18), and Berg is the only member of the delegation whose numbers are upside down (31 positive/34 negative). Heitkamp is viewed positively by 44% of North Dakotans and viewed negatively by just 18%. Garin testifies to Bergs stunning weakness: I have been polling in North Dakota since 1985, and Congressman Bergs personal and performance ratings are the lowest by far I have ever measured for any federally elected official in the state, Republican or Democrat. In sharp contrast to the states two U.S. senators, both of whom get high marks from well over three-fifths of the electorate, only one in three voters gives Rick Berg a positive rating for his performance in office. Overall, a mere 33% say that Berg is doing an excellent or good job as congressman, whereas fully 55% say his performance has been only fair or poor. The fact that strongly negative ratings outnumber strongly positive ones by a margin of 24% to 5% is a key sign of extreme vulnerability for Berg.