Democratic candidate George Sinner
Here's something I didn't expect to write: A new poll shows freshman Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer losing in North Dakota. On behalf of Democratic state Sen. George Sinner, the Mellman Group surveys this race and
finds Sinner leading 40-38
Cramer defeated a credible Democratic opponent in 2012 by 13 points even as Democrat Heidi Heitkamp was winning the Senate race, and he hasn't been on many target lists. While North Dakota has been willing to elect plenty of Democrats to Congress (for decades it had an all-Democratic delegation), it is still a conservative state, and Cramer doesn't appear to have done anything to alienate Republican voters.
However, Sinner is a credible candidate. For one thing, he's the son and namesake of former Gov. George Sinner, who served from 1985 to 1992. Sinner also won his state Senate seat 52-48 in 2012 as Romney was carrying it 52-46, indicating he has some crossover appeal. Sinner's fundraising has been good, with him outraising Cramer in the last quarter.
Any internal poll needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but the Mellman Group has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the better pollsters out there. Mark Mellman was Heitkamp's pollster during the 2012 race and he saw a path to victory for her at a time when she looked like a real longshot. Mellman also was one of the very few pollsters to find Harry Reid winning in Nevada in 2010.
So far, neither national party nor any outside groups have invested any real money in North Dakota, indicating that both sides think that Cramer isn't in any danger. However, the Peace Garden State is not a particularly expensive place to advertise in, and it's a good bet that someone will go on the air here if they think Sinner has a chance. We'll definitely be taking a look here to see if Cramer releases any polls to indicate that he's safe or more importantly, if anyone starts to invest in this race.
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