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Patrick Springer, Published October 25 2012

Taylor: Poll showing Dalrymple rout in North Dakota governor race ‘skewed’

FARGO – The campaign of Democrat Ryan Taylor on Thursday shrugged off the results of what it calls a “skewed” poll showing Republican incumbent Jack Dalrymple with a commanding lead in the North Dakota governor’s race.

A poll for Forum Communications published Thursday shows Dalrymple leading Taylor by more than 30 percentage points, 59 percent to 28 percent. The poll of 500 likely voters taken Oct. 12-15 has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Taylor, a state senator from Towner, is making his first bid for statewide office. Dalrymple, who served 10 years as lieutenant governor, ascended to the governor’s office two years ago, when John Hoeven was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Libby Schneider, Taylor’s campaign manager, issued a statement Thursday calling the poll “thoroughly discredited” and saying it “vastly under-counts” the number of Democrats.

“What we know is this: As voters start to tune into the governor’s race, they see one candidate – Ryan Taylor – who is laying out real plans to protect North Dakota’s quality of life, and another – Jack Dalrymple – who just doesn’t get it,” Schneider said.

Dalrymple, Schneider said, is focused too much on building a state budget surplus, while Taylor aims to protect “North Dakota’s cherished way of life.”

For its part, Dalrymple’s campaign welcomed the poll as one more indication that his message is appealing to voters.

“We’ve seen multiple polls this fall, and they each reaffirm positively the response that we have received across the state to Gov. Dalrymple’s campaign message,” Amanda God-fread, the governor’s campaign communications director, said in a statement.

“With 12 days left before the election, Gov. Dalrymple plans to continue working hard by talking to voters east to west and asking for their support,” God-fread said.

A political scientist said any poll contains minor flaws, but the lopsided results in the governor’s race, showing Dalrymple with a lead of 31 points, cannot be dismissed.

“There’s nothing surprising about this particular number,” said Robert Wood, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Dakota.

But Wood, who is director of UND’s Bureau of Governmental Affairs, stressed that the best reading of a campaign comes from analyzing multiple polls.

“This is one data point,” he said. “Every poll has a little bit of error.”

Campaigns shown lagging in a poll naturally attack its accuracy, Wood said.

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