Of all of the senators fighting to keep their coveted seats in this crucial midterm election cycle, no one's had as bad a month as Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who, amid already dire poll numbers after she voted "No" on Brett Kavanaugh (after re-watching his testimony with the sound off), released an ad last week that ended up outing survivors of sexual assault who did not give their permission to be named and named "survivors" who were not in fact survivors. To make matters worse, Heitkamp's follow-up apology ad may have violated FEC requirements by failing to provide a campaign disclaimer.
After all that, unsurprisingly, Heitkamp's poll numbers appear to be in an absolute free fall. Valley News Live reports on a new poll conducted October 12 through 19, which gauged opinions over several days after Heitkamp's disastrous survivors ad published in every major newspaper in the state on Monday the 15th:
In an exclusive poll by KVLY, KFYR and Strategic Research Associates of 650 likely voters in North Dakota conducted between October 12 - 19, 2018, Republican challenger Kevin Cramer leads incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp 56% to 40%, increasing his lead since Gray Television’s September poll, in which Cramer held a 10-point advantage. Heitkamp’s support appears relatively fixed. Only 5% of those supporting her say that they might change their mind, compared to 17% of Cramer supporters who say they may still change theirs.
The favorability numbers are just as grim for Heitkamp. She's now viewed unfavorably by a majority (52%) of likely North Dakota voters, a number that's spiked 11% since September. Only 37% of voters now view her favorably.
Cramer's numbers are effectively reversed. The Republican is viewed favorably by a majority (53%) of the state's likely voters, up 7-points since September, while 38% view him unfavorably.
Valley News quotes James Henson, a partner in the research firm that produced the poll, who underscored that Heitkamp's Kavanaugh vote and "campaign missteps" have badly damaged her numbers. "Senator Heitkamp appears to have been hurt by her vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the,U.S. Supreme Court as well as by subsequent campaign missteps widely covered in the media," said Henson.
A Fox News poll conducted three weeks ago, after the Kavanaugh vote but before the survivors ad, showed Cramer with a 12-point lead, 53 - 41. A Mason-Dixon poll from June gave Cramer only a 4-point lead, 48 - 44.
Heitkamp was one of the red state Democratic senators who voted against Kavanaugh, whom a majority of North Dakota voters supported. As The Daily Wire reported, in her explanation of why she ultimately chose to vote "No," Heitkamp told CNN that she changed her mind after re-watching his testimony with the sound turned off...
In an interview with CNN, Heitkamp said that she was ready to vote "Yes" on Kavanaugh but that his body language convinced her that she could not vote for him, despite the FBI finding no corroboration of the claims against him and multiple witnesses directly refuting the claims.
"I was concerned about these allegations but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt," said Heitkamp, who currently trails Republican Kevin Cramer by an average of 8.7%.
"She watched Ford's testimony," CNN reports. "And then she watched Kavanaugh's. And then she watched Kavanaugh's again, but this time, with the sound off."
"It's something I do," she told CNN. "We communicate not only with words, but with our body language and demeanor."