In North Dakota, Energy Issues Might Shift Senate Race

Mallory Carr

10/23/2012 5:09:00 PM - Mallory Carr

As the election approaches and the race for control of the Senate reaches its final leg, Republican Rick Berg takes the lead in North Dakota. Two polls out this past week both show Berg with a substantial lead. The first poll, conducted by Fargo Communications, a North Dakotan media conglomerate, gives Berg a ten point advantage over his Democratic opponent Heidi Heitkamp. Rasmussen came out with a second poll this morning showing only a slightly less impressive lead, still giving Berg the clear advantage with a five point difference.

Even though North Dakota leans Republican in every race, this one was close just a few weeks ago. Heitkamp was seen more favorably and the polls showed a tie.

Timing could explain the sudden change. Romney and Obama devoted a great deal of attention to coal and energy production issues during their debates. Romney had the clear upper-hand on this issue for voters whose economy is based on coal and natural gas. His love for coal plays well in a state where 91% of electricity comes from coal-fired plants. He could not have been clearer about his devotion to energy production than in the second debate when he said, "I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas." He promised to encourage growth and make it easier for development in states like North Dakota, a sharp contrast from the President’s view of increasing regulations on these industries and devoting more resources to failing ‘green’ energy production.

After hearing this, voters could have been swayed more to not split the ticket as wariness of Heitkamp’s party’s positions took over. Although Heitkamp has said she personally supports more drilling and bringing the Keystone Pipeline in, her ideological connection to President Obama cannot be severed and will not be ignored by the electorate.