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Patrick Springer, Published April 27 2010

Berg leads Pomeroy, for now

The latest poll shows GOP challenger Rick Berg’s lead over Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., has narrowed to within the margin of error in the race for North Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat.

Berg, a longtime state legislator from Fargo, leads Pomeroy 49 percent to 45 percent in a survey of 500 likely North Dakota voters released Monday by Rasmussen Reports.

Earlier Rasmussen polls, in February and March, showed Berg leading Pomeroy by percentage-point margins of 7 and 6 points. The poll, conducted April 20, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4½ percentage points.

In the previous Rasmussen poll, taken March 23, Berg led Pomeroy 51 percent to 44 percent.

Democrats, including Pomeroy, have criticized Rasmussen polls, arguing that the organization is owned by an avowed conservative and that its results skew to the right.

“Congressman Pomeroy doesn’t put a lot of stock in polls that Republican-leaning organizations put out months before Election Day,” said Pomeroy spokesman Brenden Timpe. “Right now his focus is on the hearing he will chair this week on Social Security issues.”

A Berg spokesman, meanwhile, welcomed the poll results.

“This is the third straight month we’re ahead” in the Rasmussen poll, said Berg campaign manager Tom Nelson. “This is a long race. We’re happy where we’re at.”

The same Rasmussen poll also suggests President Barack Obama’s policies are unpopular with North Dakota voters; 54 percent of voters disapprove of the job the president is doing, strongly or somewhat, while 44 percent approve, strongly or somewhat.

Similarly, the health reform package that passed Congress with Democratic backing and Republican opposition is unpopular with North Dakota voters.

Fifty-three percent of voters, according to the poll, regard the health care plan as “bad,” while 35 percent rated the legislation “good,” with 10 percent undecided.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522