This was one of the closest races of 2012. Heitkamp won by a margin of 1% and approximately 3,000 votes (politico.com). Only 24 counties in North Dakota had a majority of votes for Heitkamp where as 29 of the counties went to Rick Berg. Fortunately for Heitkamp the election is decided by popular vote. This means that Heitkamp managed to keep a tighter margin to Berg in the counties that she lost, while securing some of the larger counties. For instance in Cass, North Dakota she managed to secure 41,397 votes to Berg’s 31,509 votes (politico.com).
Heitkamp executed a near perfect campaign and managed to gain the respect and trust of North Dakotans. Her powerfully compelling personality helped her secure the seat in the Senate. By separating herself from the Democratic Party, Heitkamp managed to brand herself as a bipartisan, and balanced candidate. She was a unique candidate in a unique state. If Heitkamp had simply tried to run on a platform founded upon conventional democratic ideology she would have lost North Dakota to Berg. By adopting what some would say are ‘Republican’ policies on energy and oil Heitkamp managed to appeal to a large portion of the North Dakotan citizenry. Further Heitkamp utilized the notion of individualism to run as a unique candidate. The ideologies surrounding her platform were specifically catered to Heitkamp as an individual and thus helped her appeal to the people of North Dakota. By not adopting mere cookie cutter Democratic ideologies, Heitkamp was able to broaden her appeal and the election became less about parties and became more about the individuals running. Further Berg hindered his own campaign as he was entangled in a few financial scandals. He was also forced to defend many of the decisions he had made during his time as a state representative, that did not align with many North Dakotans interests. What this race boiled down to was each candidates personality and their stance on the issues. The candidate who one was the one that resonated most with the North Dakotan people, and Heitkamp clearly appealed to the people and thus came out on top in this race.