The Medias Role

The media coverage of the North Dakota Senate race actually helped Heitkamp. The race was unexpectedly close thus creating a buzz or hype around the race on both a state and national level. People wondered how a Democratic candidate managed to be so competitive in an overwhelmingly Republican state. Articles from the press emerged focusing on Heitkamp’s skill in campaigning, while still giving the benefit of the doubt to Berg, assuming that he would secure the state come election day. This notion is further asserted by this quote from the Washington Times,“Experts say that despite Mrs. Heitkamp’s strengths and the challenges facing Mr. Berg, the conservative political climate of North Dakota – and Mr. Romney’s popularity there – likely will push Mr. Berg to victory,” (washingtontimes). The assumption is that Heitkamp would not win the election, but the article still praised her positive attributes and seemed to argue she would lose the race due to the political climate of North Dakota; thus asserting that no democrat could succeed in this political environment. In a quote in USA Today the executive director of the Senate Democrats Campaign Operations said, “Really no one gave us a chance in North Dakota until Heidi got in that race…It seems to be really resistant to what’s happening in the presidential election.’” (Camia). Many journalists and analysts attributed Heitkamp’s personal strengths to the closeness of the race. Articles like these ultimately helped boost her congenial image with the North Dakotans.

The media coverage for this election was extremely focused on the candidates compelling characteristics or traits. Gail Collins was one national reporter who focused on Heitkamp’s personality in the early stages of the Senate race. In July Gail wrote that, “The national Democrats wrote this one off as a long shot at best, but Heitkamp seems to have, at minimum, pulled even. On the campaign trail, she’s a happy warrior with the endless energy you’d need if you were running for office in a state where there’s a two-hour drive between even the smaller clumps of voters.” (Collins) Collins emphasizes Heitkamp’s positive nature, tenacity and strength in the above quote. Such qualities are often important to voters.

Heitkamp appeared to receive an equal amount of coverage in comparison to Berg. Further it can be argued that she has a novelty factor, which also increased the amount and quality of her coverage. Berg was a state representative but Heitkamp was new to the congressional racing area. People were interested in this newcomer Heidi Heitkamp. The media had to answer question like who is she, what policies does she advocate, where does she stand on the issues, and most importantly what can she do for North Dakota?


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