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Republican U.S. House of Representatives candidate Kevin Cramer is ahead of his opponent Pam Gulleson by 20 percentage points, according to a recent poll commissioned by Forum Communications

Poll shows Cramer lead

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GRAND FORKS -- Republican U.S. House of Representatives candidate Kevin Cramer is ahead of his opponent Pam Gulleson by 20 percentage points, according to a recent poll commissioned by Forum Communications.

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Among poll respondents, 52.2 percent said they would vote for Cramer over Gulleson, whom 32.4 percent of those polled said they would support. The poll showed 15.4 percent of participants were undecided.

Cramer, a member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, is competing with Gulleson, a former legislator and staffer for retired Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., for the state's sole seat in the House. Rep. Rick

Berg, R-N.D., is running for Senate against former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, leaving his seat up for grabs.

The wide margin between the two means that Gulleson would have to win all undecided voters and peel away many of Cramer's supporters to win the election.

Respondents identifying as independents favored Cramer over Gulleson, 45.5 percent to 30.8 percent, with 23.7 percent undecided.

Only 5.7 percent of Republicans and 7.2 percent of Democrats said they were undecided.

The candidates were close in Cass County, the state's most populous, where Cramer led Gulleson by 42.7 percent to 40.9 percent. The two were tied at 42 percent in Grand Forks County. Cramer had the lead with 66.7 percent in Burleigh County, where he lives, and the lead with 54.3 percent in Ward County.

The poll shows that voters' opinion in the House race is less formed than in the more heated Heitkamp- Berg matchup for Senate.

Compared to responses for the Senate, larger percentages of respondents had either neutral opinions or uncertain feelings toward Gulleson and Cramer.

Asked to describe their impressions of the candidates, 13.4 percent said they had a neutral impression of Gulleson and 24.6 percent said they did not know or were not sure.

For Cramer, 10.8 percent said they were neutral and 19.4 percent said they were not sure how they felt.

Respondents were also cooler in their support for or opposition to the candidates, with the largest percentages having either "somewhat favorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" impressions rather than "very favorable" or "very unfavorable."

In the Senate race, only 3.8 percent were neutral toward Heitkamp and 4 percent toward Berg. Only 6.2 percent of those polled were not sure of their impression of Berg and 5.2 percent said the same of Heitkamp.

Also in the Senate race, impressions tended more toward very favorable or very unfavorable.

Essman Research of Des Moines, Iowa, conducted the poll of 500 residents between Oct. 12 and Oct. 15. Of the sample, 34.8 percent identified as Republicans, 19.4 percent as Democrats and 42.2 percent as independents.

Respondents were split between 50.6 percent women and 49.4 percent men. The largest age group represented was between 46 and 65 years old, who were 37 percent of the sample. The smallest group was 65 years old or older, representing 14.8 percent of the poll.

The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Critics have questioned the poll's sample, arguing that Democrats and other groups were underrepresented in its results for the Senate race, published Saturday.

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