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Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 2/9-11. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)
Favorable Unfavorable No Opinion
Dorgan (D) 67 30 3 Hoeven (R) 68 27 5
Byron Dorgan is the incumbent Democratic senator, while John Hoeven is the incumbent Republican governor. While North Dakota isn't as Red as it used to be (McCain won it by only 9 points while Bush beat Kerry in the state by 28 points), it's still not the most hospitable place for Democrats.
So looking at those favorability numbers, and considering the state's partisan bent, you'd think that Dorgan could face the fight of his life if Hoeven decides to shoot for the Senate, right?
Dorgan (D) 57 Hoeven (R) 35
Well that was unexpected, and shocking enough that we double-checked the sample composition and looked for other obvious biases.
But it seems that while North Dakotans like Hoeven slightly better than they like Dorgan, they want them both exactly where they are right now -- Dorgan in the Senate where he can use his years of seniority, seat on appropriations, chairmanship of the Indian Affairs committee, and several subcommittee chairmanships (like water, energy and commerce) to deliver for his state. Hoeven, in this Senate, would be an impotent back bencher, and small states like North Dakota depend on the seniority system to give them clout versus larger states. That's why Alaska returned soon-to-be-indicted Don Young to the House and almost reelected convicted felon Ted Stevens.
So what North Dakotans seem to be saying is that they like them both very much, and please keep the status quo intact.
One interesting note -- while Dorgan wins every region of the state polled, his biggest margin is in the eastern side of the state, where his margin of victory is a whopping 64-28 (and a region that Hoeven won solidly in his 2008 reelection race). Look at how that part of the state evolved over the past four years:
That's some mighty nice Blue to work with as the state moves toward "battleground" status.