Bismarck, N.D. — In last night’s North Dakota primary elections, Republican congressman Kevin Cramer — who is running to challenge Democratic U.S. senator Heidi Heitkamp this fall — received close to 61,000 votes. His primary challenger, Thomas O’Neill, fell just short of 8,500 votes.
Meanwhile, Heitkamp, who ran uncontested in the primary, received just 36,500 votes. She was first elected to the Senate in 2012, in a narrow contest against Republican Rick Berg. While it’s difficult to predict November outcomes based on a primary alone, especially given that Heitkamp ran unchallenged, last night’s numbers should be comforting to North Dakota Republicans — along with national Republicans paying close attention to the fate of this Senate seat.
In fact, GOP turnout in the primary was almost double that of Democrats: nearly 70,000 voters compared to just 36,685. This is consistent with North Dakota’s high concentration of registered Republicans.
So far in the campaign, Heitkamp has been striving to portray herself as conservative — her latest television ad touts the fact that she has voted with President Donald Trump more than half the time.
If nothing else, last night’s results confirm that North Dakota will be one of the key swing states to watch in November’s Senate elections.