Miscellaneous Articles

Pam Gulleson Campaign Gathering Momentum, Forum Poll Flawed

Pam Gulleson is running a strong campaign and attracting attention from both North Dakota and national media. The Washington Post. The story is especially notable because Pam’s race is the only one on this list that is competitive not because of redistricting, but because of the exceptional strength of her candidacy.

  1. Pam Gulleson is running a strong campaign and attracting attention from both North Dakota and national media. The Washington Post named her number 1 in their “10 House Districts That Might Surprise You” story. The story is especially notable because Pam’s race is the only one on this list that is competitive not because of redistricting, but because of the exceptional strength of her candidacy. 
  2. Gulleson has outraised her Republican opponents. In fact, she tripled their combined fundraising for the first quarter of this year.
  3. Gulleson is travelling the state, meeting with voters and talking about her plan to build the future for North Dakota. Pam has travelled almost 40,000 miles, and visited over 30 North Dakota communities in 2012. At almost every stop, she received positive press, from small weekly papers to state-wide publications.
  4. Gulleson’s GOP opponents Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer are being sued for ethics violations as Public Service Commissioners. They have both accepted campaign contributions from the same corporations that they were supposed to be regulating in office. The Sierra Club and Dakota Resource Council are in the process of suing them for a conflict of interest, and Public Service Commission candidate Brad Crabtree has been holding press conferences to highlight these ethics scandals.

Washington Post – The 10 House districts that might surprise you

Prairie Public – Monthly Editors’ Roundtable

Grand Forks Herald – Editorial: Conflict lawsuit hangs over U.S. House race

Dickinson Press – Groups want 2 men off South Heart Coal mine permit review panel who accepted campaign contributions from company

Forum Communications – Gulleson holds money edge in ND US House race

The Forum poll is deeply flawed:

  • Essman/Research used a deeply flawed method that most respected national pollsters would find to be a fatal error that should have precluded releasing the general election portion of the poll.
  • The pollster used what is called a Primary Screen, meaning that one of the first couple of questions asked when the pollster called North Dakotans was whether they were voting in the primary, if they said no, they were dropped from the poll.
  • Additionally, if the North Dakotan stated that they were undecided on either Measure 2 or Measure 4, they were dropped from the poll. Moderate, independent people who did not feel strongly about the Fighting Sioux nickname or eliminating all property taxes were not represented. This skews the sample.
    • “I’m undecided on Measure 2 and when they asked me whether or not I’d vote for it I told them that. They asked me again if I’d vote for or against it and I told them again I hadn’t made up my mind. At that point they hung up on me.”
  • As an example of how flawed these methods are it is important to note that in 2010 a total of 89,594 people voted in either the Republican or Democratic primary for US House that took place on June 8.  In November 237,137 North Dakotans cast ballots.  A sample of primary voters, by definition is not representative of the general election electorate.  In this case, it fails to include the opinions of more than a hundred thousand people.
  • Given that the Democratic ticket is settled and there are several contested Republican races and hot-button state specific ballot measures, the make-up of the voter on June 12 will be vastly different than the one voting in November.
  • It’s not just Democrats who are crying foul – different parties all week have been complaining about the methodology used to poll about Measure 2 or 4. From Rob Port, popular conservative blogger who is backed by the Koch brothers: Forum Communications Is Really Terrible At Polling
  • Essman/Research is a marketing polling firm out of Des Moines, Iowa – they spend their time doing commercial research and rarely do political polling. There is a huge difference between commercial and political polling.



The Forum 5/18/2012 – Poll finds Gulleson trailing both Kalk, Cramer in matchups

Six months out from the general election, a Republican seems poised to win North Dakota’s U.S. House seat this year, but a significant proportion of likely
Republican voters are undecided as to who that contender should be.

A Forum Communications Co. poll of 500 likely voters statewide found 37 percent of Republicans haven’t made up their minds about next month’s primary contest
between Brian Kalk, the party-endorsed candidate, and challenger Kevin Cramer.

Among decided Republicans, though, 38 percent said they’d vote for Cramer in the June 12 election and 25 percent said they’d support Kalk. Essman/Research
of Des Moines, Iowa, conducted the telephone survey May 3 to May 8. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Breaking the results down by self-declared party affiliations, Cramer received the most support from independents, with 46 percent supporting him compared to 28 percent who support Kalk and 27 percent still undecided.

The greatest proportion of self-identified Republicans – 42 percent of those surveyed – were undecided with one month to go before the primary.

The survey asked self-identified Republicans to weigh in on the primary race between Cramer and Kalk, while all likely voters surveyed were asked for their pick in the general election.

Of the likely voters polled by Forum Communications, 38 percent classified themselves as Republican, 37 percent said they were independents and 23 percent described themselves as Democrats.

Specifically, for the June primary contest, 59 percent said they planned to vote Republican, while 41 percent said they planned to vote Democratic.

Looking ahead to potential general election matchups, either Kalk or Cramer appears able to beat Democrat Pam Gulleson, according to the results of Forum Communications’ poll.   Gulleson, a former chief aide to retired Sen. Byron Dorgan, is the lone Democrat seeking North Dakota’s U.S. House seat.

If the November election were held at the time of the survey, Cramer would have the strongest chance at victory. The results show Cramer had a nearly 3-to-1 lead
over Gulleson.   Cramer garnered 61 percent of all likely voters’ support compared to 23 percent who supported Gulleson. Fifteen percent were undecided.

Kalk versus Gulleson would likely be closer than that, but the poll still indicates a sizable Republican advantage. Kalk received 48 percent of likely voters’ support, while Gulleson received 31 percent. Slightly more voters – 21 percent – were undecided in that potential contest.

North Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat is up for grabs this fall because Republican Rep. Rick Berg is campaigning for the U.S. Senate this year. Berg won the seat in 2010 after ousting Democrat Earl Pomeroy, who’d previously held the office since 1993.

North Dakota Democrats are looking for Gulleson to reclaim the seat this year. Prior to Forum Communications’ poll today, only one poll – with questionable partisan  ties – had been publicly released on North Dakota’s U.S. House race.

Last fall, a conservative-leaning alternative news outlet in North Dakota commissioned a poll that gauged how the six Republicans then-running for the
seat would fare against Gulleson in 2012. That survey by PlainsDaily.com found both Cramer and Kalk ahead of Gulleson, but not by as wide a margin as Forum Communications’ poll found this month. Cramer’s communications director, Kate Bommarito, was formerly a regular contributor for PlainsDaily.com.

Among objective ratings, national media outlets offer predictions similar to what poll found. Many analysts say North Dakota’s seat seems to be reasonably safe in
Republican hands.    However, The Washington Post recently named North Dakota’s House race as its most likely to surprise because of its competitiveness – specifically noting Gulleson’s strong campaign so far.

As of April 1, Gulleson had raised more campaign funds than Kalk and Cramer combined. Since the start of their campaigns last year, Gulleson has raised more than $400,000, Cramer has raised nearly $200,000 and Kalk has raised about $177,000.

Leading up to the primary, Kalk and Cramer have waged fairly muted campaigns, compared to the more vocal competition present in North Dakota’s contested U.S. Senate race.   As the Republicans’ endorsed candidate, Kalk has benefited from the institutional and financial support of the North Dakota Republican Party.

However, Cramer has countered that with notable support nationally. Just this week, he picked up endorsements from two super PACs that promote anti-establishment, tea party candidates in contested primaries.

Both FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth are among the wealthiest super PACs this cycle. Although neither group has explicitly pledged financial support to
Cramer’s bid, super PACS are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money for or against congressional candidates.

Cramer and Kalk are both state public service commissioners. Cramer has served on the board since 2004, while Kalk was first elected in 2008. In
an unprecedented move, Cramer chose not to seek the North Dakota Republican Party’s traditional endorsement this spring. Cramer, a former NDGOP chairman, said he wanted to participate in a process that involved Republicans statewide.

Ultimately, the North Dakota Republican Party endorsed Kalk after three ballots at its annual convention, in which he increasingly edged out his four competitors.   Libertarian Eric Olson, of Fargo, is also seeking North Dakota’s U.S. House seat this year. He was not included in Forum Communications’ poll.



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