In North Dakota Senate Race, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp Closes Gap

Candidates Heitkamp, Berg are appealing to voters with no-nonsense ideas, even some of the same ones.

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"We should continue to protect people from being denied insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions, but we can keep the good and fix the bad," she says. "I don't support any mandate, and where the Affordable Care Act falls down is, it is not enough emphasis on cost and prevention."

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows Berg has outraised Heitkamp nearly 2-to-1, but it's hard to say how much money is going to matter in the small state's Senate race.

Jendrysik predicts the campaign is going to be the most expensive Senate race in the state's history, but there is only so much air time to buy in the state's four major media markets.

"In North Dakota, you have to do both kinds of politics. You have to be on TV, but what really matters is going to church picnics, going to the rodeo," he says. "People expect to meet the candidates and not just on TV."

In August, Jendrysik says North Dakotans are complaining about wall-to-wall political ads, and with the Senate race heating up, he expects more and more outside ad buys. But unlike in other parts of the country where the super PAC ads have changed the outcome of elections, Jendrysik says North Dakotans don't take kindly to outsiders trying to influence them.

"North Dakotans are pretty insular," he says. "I don't think that 'cue ominous music, Darth Vader voice' really pays off with voters in North Dakota."

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