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Armstrong leads North Dakota governor’s race by wide margin

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Armstrong leads North Dakota governor’s race by wide margin

May 28, 2024 | 8:45 am ET
By April Baumgarten, For the North Dakota News Cooperative
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Armstrong leads North Dakota governor’s race by wide margin
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Source: North Dakota News Cooperative, WPA Intelligence. (Graphic by Troy Becker/The Forum)

FARGO — U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong has overwhelming support in his bid as the Republican candidate for North Dakota governor in the June 11 primary, but the U.S. House race in North Dakota is much closer, according to new statewide poll numbers.

The North Dakota Poll, conducted May 20-22 for the North Dakota News Cooperative, shows Armstrong leads Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, with 57% of the 500 people polled saying they would vote for the congressman. Miller had the support of 19%, while 24% say they are still undecided on who they will vote for in the primary.

“Something wild would have to happen in the next couple of weeks for him to lose,” said Trevor Smith, chief research officer with WPA Intelligence, the Washington, D.C.-based firm that conducted the poll for NDNC.

Even if Miller could secure the undecided vote, it would not be enough to make up Armstrong’s 38-point lead, Smith noted.

The North Dakota Republican Party unanimously endorsed Armstrong at its state convention. 

Miller did not attend the convention and did not seek the endorsement.

The winner will move on to the general election to face Democrat Merrill Piepkorn and independent candidate Michael Coachman. 

With Armstrong’s U.S. House seat up for grabs, five Republicans are vying for that role, and the NDNC poll shows a tight race between the top two, with the other three lagging far behind.

House candidates Becker, Mund go after Fedorchak for perceived conflicts

North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak garnered 32% of poll participants’ support, giving her a 7-point lead over former state Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck, who was favored by 25% of those polled. 

However, with 28% saying they were undecided, the Republican primary for the U.S. House is up for grabs, Smith said. 

Bismarck attorney and former Miss America Cara Mund received 10%, while Alex Balazs, a military veteran from Cando who won the North Dakota GOP endorsement over Fedorchak, got 5%. Becker did not qualify for the endorsement and Mund did not announce her candidacy until after the party convention. Sharlet Mohr of Williston received less than a percent in the poll.

The U.S. House winner in the Republican primary will face the Democratic candidate in the general election. Trygve Hammer and Roland Riemers are running against each other to win the Democratic vote. The poll did not include questions about Hammer or Riemers and only included Republican candidates who will appear on the primary ballot. 

The WPA poll surveyed people who were likely to vote in the Republican primary. In North Dakota, primary elections are open to all voters.

The poll did, however, pose questions to participants about party identification – strong Republican, not-so-strong Republican and independent – and ideology – very conservative, moderately conservative and moderate.

In the House race, Fedorchak claimed an 11-point lead over Becker among respondents who identified as strong Republicans, but Becker was favored by 6 points among those who identified as very conservative. Balazs, Mund and Mohr were far behind in both categories.

Fedorchak had more support among those who identified as somewhat conservative – 36% – and moderate – 37% – while Becker grabbed 24% and 15%, respectively.

Independents showed more support for Becker than strong Republicans. Becker got 32% of independents versus Fedorchak’s 23%.

Mund also did better among independents (17%) and moderates (22%). Balazs was in the single digits for strong Republicans, independents, very conservative votes and moderates.

In the governor’s race, poll results show Armstrong’s lead over Miller is strong among Republicans of all stripes. 

Armstrong, Miller debate shows difference of personality but not policy

Armstrong led by 10 points among independents with 38%.

In terms of geography, the poll shows Becker’s support is stronger in the western half of the state while Fedorchak leads in the east. Becker got 28% support in western ND to Fedorchak’s 26%.

Meanwhile, Fedorchak had 39% of voters on the east side of the state, 18 points more than Becker. 

Fifty more people represented western North Dakota in the poll versus eastern North Dakota participants.

Armstrong, who is from Dickinson, saw a wider margin of support in western North Dakota over the east, posting a 43-point and 31-point lead, respectively, over Miller.

The North Dakota Poll surveyed 500 eligible and likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%.

The North Dakota News Cooperative is a nonprofit news organization providing reliable and independent reporting on issues and events that impact the lives of North Dakotans. The story is published here with permission.