The Political Environment

Oil Boom Shifts The Landscape Of Rural North Dakota

Understanding Bakken Natural Gas Quality, Jared Anderson- Breaking Energy.

The political landscape of North Dakota is at times baffling. In presidential elections this state can almost certainly be counted on to go right and vote for the Republican candidate. It has been half a century since a Democrat won the state of North Dakota in a presidential election. In the 2012 election Romney won the state by 21 points. The supremacy of the Republican Party is unsurprising when one looks at the constituency and geography of the state. Demographically the state of North Dakota is comprised of mostly white, middle aged to elderly individuals. The distinctive aspect of the state itself is its extremely rural terrain, with 90% of the land dedicated to farming (Pearson Education Inc.). Such factors help give the state its prominent Republican identity. Further issues surrounding the production of energy and oil are paramount in North Dakota.The rapid growth in the energy sector has lead to an 11% increase in the average family income in the state. Further this industry has employed a large portion of North Dakotans thus leading to an astoundingly low unemployment rate of 3 percent, this is the lowest in the country by far (NY Times Election 2012).

While it seems unlikely that a Democratic candidate would flourish in this environment, this state is not entirely hostile to the Democratic Party. Though North Dakotans tend to select the Republican candidates for presidential races, there is a history of this state splitting its ticket. In nine of the past 17 elections, including Heitkamps most recent victory, voters have split their tickets between the Republican and Democratic parties (Camia).

Running for the Senate in a state with a relatively small population of 699,628 individuals allows candidates to personally engage with their constituents (Pearson Education inc.). With such an environment at hand grassroots politics and door-to-door campaigning can have a powerful impact upon election results.  Candidates have the opportunity to personally meet with many of their future constituents, which allows for a larger likability factor. As Rick Berg aptly said, “North Dakota is a small state, we know people, we know each other” (washington times). The campaigning done at a local level can have a greater impact than statewide focused campaigning. Further this style of politics allows for a candidate to develop trust and camaraderie with their fellow statesmen; two attributes most citizens want to have in their state representative.


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