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Forum polls often hit their mark

FARGO -- Reading poll results is a lot like tuning in midway through a boxing match. You can see who is winning and who is taking a beating, but you also know a few big blows could change the fight's outcome in a heartbeat.

Forum Communications released a series of statewide polls last week on North Dakota's upcoming U.S. House and Senate races and ballot measures on the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish property taxes.

Only time will reveal the accuracy of the polls, which were conducted by Essman/Research, an independent research firm in Des Moines, Iowa.

In the meantime, we've taken a look at how Forum polls have fared in the past.

All of these past polls were conducted by the Public Affairs Institute at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

2008 presidential race

Four weeks before the 2008 presidential election, a Forum poll of 608 likely North Dakota voters found then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama leading Arizona Sen. John McCain, 45 percent to 43 percent.

Obama won the presidential election, but he lost North Dakota to McCain, 53 percent to 45 percent.

Outcome predicted: No

2008 statewide races

The same poll showed then-Gov. John Hoeven and U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy heading toward re-election with huge leads over their challengers.

The poll showed Hoeven defeating his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Tim Mathern of Fargo, by 73 percent to 18 percent.

In the end, Hoeven's margin of victory was 50 percent -- slightly smaller than the poll results, but still a landslide.

Outcome predicted: Yes

Pomeroy had support from 60 percent of those polled, while 28 percent favored Republican rival Duane Sand and 12 percent were undecided. Pomeroy won with 62 percent to Sand's 38 percent.

Outcome predicted: Yes

Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm held a 12-point lead in the poll over Democratic challenger Jasper Schneider, 34 percent to 22 percent.

The race ended up being much closer, with Hamm squeaking out the victory, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.

Outcome predicted: Yes

Nowatzki is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.