FARGO - Jack Dalrymple served a decade as North Dakota's lieutenant governor and two years ago moved into the governor's mansion when John Hoeven was elected to the U.S. Senate. Now, according to a Forum Communications poll, Dalrymple appears poised to handily win election to the office he has held since 2010.
The Republican is shown leading Ryan Taylor, the Democratic challenger, by a commanding 59 percent to 28 percent, with 13 percent undecided, according to the poll of 500 likely voters taken Oct. 12-15.
Dalrymple also has a significant lead among independent voters, capturing 58 percent compared to the 24 percent favoring Taylor, a state senator from Towner. Eighteen percent of independents polled remained undecided.
The Republican is especially strong among male voters, older voters and voters in central and western counties, according to the poll, conducted by Essman/Research of Des Moines, Iowa.
Dalrymple polled progressively stronger in each age demographic, from the 53 percent support among respondents ages 18-30 to the 66 percent support with likely voters older than 65.
Sixty-five percent of male poll participants favored the governor to 26 percent for Taylor. Dalrymple was favored by 53 percent of women compared to 30 percent for Taylor.
Geographically, Dalrymple's appeal is strongest in Burleigh, Stark and Williams counties, where the poll shows him with 70 percent or more - though the sample sizes in the poll weren't statistically significant in Williams or Stark.
In Cass County, where Dalrymple has a farm near Casselton, he leads 57 percent compared to Taylor's 29 percent, with almost 14 percent undecided.
Among the counties the poll highlighted, support for Dalrymple was weakest in Grand Forks County, where 50 percent of respondents favored him compared to 32 percent for Taylor.
Based on the results of the Forum Communications poll, North Dakotans are more willing to vote across party lines in the governor's race than in federal contests this year.
More self-identified Republicans who were polled said they would vote for Taylor - 9 percent - than for either of the Democratic candidates for House or Senate. Dalrymple, in turn, polled higher among self-identified Democrats - 17 percent - than either of the Republican candidates for Senate or House.
Barring an upset, it appears Dalrymple will finally win a statewide office in his own right, and not as Hoeven's running mate.
Dalrymple first entered politics in 1984, when he was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives. He served in that capacity from 1985 to 2000.
His first attempt at a statewide run came in 1988, when he lost a bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. That race would have pitted him against Democrat Quentin Burdick.
When Burdick died in 1992, Dalrymple again threw his hat in the ring for a Senate bid, this time winning the GOP nomination but losing in the general election to Democrat Kent Conrad, whose retirement this year leaves the seat open.
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Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522