Republican congressman Kevin Cramer leads Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp by 16 points in the latest poll of the North Dakota Senate race — the biggest lead that Cramer has held so far.
According to the survey of 650 likely voters, Cramer leads Heitkamp 56-40 percent. The poll was conducted by Strategic Research Associates from October 12–19. The most recent poll prior to this one put him ahead by twelve points, and before that, an NBC survey gave him a ten-point lead.
The Strategic Research Associates poll is the first survey taken of the North Dakota race since Heitkamp was forced to apologize for publicizing the names and towns of several constituents, labeling them as sexual-assault victims in an advertisement without their consent. Their names were included in an open letter to Cramer, which Heitkamp’s campaign published as an ad last week.
The new poll seems to reflect a negative change in public opinion on the sitting senator. According to the data, she’s viewed favorably by only 37 percent of North Dakotans and unfavorably by 52 percent. In September, only 41 percent of her constituents said they held an unfavorable view of her. Cramer, meanwhile, holds nearly opposite numbers: He’s viewed favorably by 53 percent of North Dakotans and unfavorably by 38 percent.
Heitkamp and Cramer faced off last week in a debate, where the Democratic senator used her two-minute opening statement to apologize to the women affected and to the rest of her constituents for her error in judgment.
Cramer and Heitkamp were both first elected to Congress in 2012, she as senator in a close race, and he as North Dakota’s at-large congressman, representing the entire state. Heitkamp is widely considered to be the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection in a red state that Donald Trump won in 2016; he took North Dakota Clinton by nearly 36 percentage points.