Heidi Heitkamp is fighting for her life in her reelection race in North Dakota.  Having voted for Donald Trump by almost 36 points, the state is becoming increasingly Republican, year after year, so even in a race without any Democratic luggage, the battle would seem relatively hard.  The one thing that has really impacted Heitkamp is her "no" vote on Kavanaugh.  Before the vote, she was virtually neck-and-neck with opponent Kevin Cramer.  Since then, she has gotten as low as 14 points below him.  Her odds are going down and down every day and that's thanks a lot to that vote.  FiveThirtyEight gives her roughly a 20% chance of winning reelection, but that number should actually be much higher.

One major factor which raises her chances is the small state factor.  Democrats like Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Jon Tester and Steve Bullock in Montana, and Republicans like Phil Scott in Vermont are able to succeed in states that vote for the other party by a significant amount by being very well-rounded candidates that fit the state's dynamic.  However, as we become an increasingly partisan nation, Senate and House races are becoming more and more about the national implications, one Mississippian saying that she won't vote for Democrat Mike Espy, a Senate contender, because he will help Democrats' agendas, despite liking him.  A large majority of North Dakotans like Heitkamp; she is one of the most popular US Senators.  They just don't like the way she votes.  Ultimately, her likability will come to benefit her in this election over her controversial votes.  As she is an incumbent senator, she has already proved that she will make many decisions apart from Democrat Leadership for North Dakota's good.  That incumbency advantage is our next factor.

In several races this year, the incumbency advantage has been devalued, as analysts are predicting trends that it will decrease in importance its upcoming elections, and because of the irregularities this election cycle.  This has been the case for Scott Walker in Wisconsin (where many sources rate the race as "Lean Democratic"), was the case for Bill Nelson in Florida, and is now the case for Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.  The incumbency reelection rate was 93% this past cycle, and Democrats have an even chance to win one in Nevada and a greater than 1/3 chance in Texas.  Even though the polls have her down now, which is partly an act of defiance against her Kavanaugh vote, the results will lean further her direction, how far only time will tell.

Kevin Cramer is a decent opponent and the state is becoming extremely red, so Heitkamp is nothing close to a shoe in.  But don't undervalue her.  There's a good 50-50 chance she'll find herself sitting in the Senate next year.

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