Accuracy in Media

CNN reporter Fredreka Schouten touted that “Heidi Heitkamp raises eye-popping $12.5 million after Kavanaugh ‘no’ vote,” yet failed to provide readers with any context about the polling showing that Heitkamp is trailing far behind her GOP opponent Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

“Heitkamp announced her opposition to [Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh in early October,” Schouten writes. “By voting no, she bucked conventional wisdom and risked her re-election prospects in a state that backed President Donald Trump by a wide, 36-point margin in 2016 …But October’s cash windfall left Heitkamp with $11.1 million stockpiled for the final sprint to Election Day, campaign reports filed Thursday night with the Federal Election Commission show. Cramer had less than $1 million remaining.”

While Schouten does mention that North Dakota went heavily for President Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, she does not mention that Real Clear Politics polling average puts Cramer ahead of Heitkamp by a margin of 14 points.

By focusing on the money race rather than the votes race, CNN offers a misleading analysis, including failing to provide non-partisan context from experts like the Cook Political Report, which states in a recent report that despite Heitkamp’s best efforts, it doesn’t appear that she can turn this around in the next 19 days. As such, the race moves to the Lean Republican column, and this rating change has implications for Democrats’ efforts to win the majority.

“There is an assumption this race turned on Heitkamp’s decision to vote against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. In reality, it may have just been the final blow in a state that has moved further to the right since Heitkamp won the seat in 2012 by just 3,000 votes as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the state with 58 percent.”

Photo by North Dakota National Guard

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