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Democratic Poll Offers Glimmer of Hope in N.D. Senate Race

Democrats released a new poll today aiming to show they could be competitive in the open North Dakota Senate race.

The Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group survey showed the likely GOP Senate nominee, freshman Rep. Rick Berg (N.D.) with 44 percent. Another 40 percent of respondents preferred a Democratic candidate.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the poll came out just hours before their most-often-mentioned candidate for the seat, former state Rep. Pam Gulleson, who was a staffer for former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), was expected to announce her bid for Berg’s open House seat instead. Berg announced in May that he would seek the Senate seat, just six months after unseating Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) for the at-large district.

Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D-N.D.) retirement already makes this a tough seat for Democrats to hold in 2012 because of the state’s GOP leanings. But without a solid candidate, the party seems doomed to hand over the seat to the GOP.

Democrats name Gulleson, former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp or her brother, former state Sen. Joel Heitkamp, as possible candidates for the seat.

Meanwhile, Democratic pollster Geoff Garin wrote in a memo that Berg’s “personal and performance ratings are the lowest by far I have ever measured for any federally elected official in the state, Republican or Democrat.”

The Democratic survey questioned 614 voters from Aug. 14 to 16, including 40 percent self-identified Republicans and 28 percent self-identified Democrats.

Roll Call Politics rates this race Safe Republican.

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