We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.




ND goes from one of top 10 conservative states to one of top 10 moderate states in Gallup polling

FARGO - The staunchly conservative ideology that holds sway in North Dakota appears to be mellowing into something more moderate, as measured by a tracking poll.

We are part of The Trust Project.

FARGO – The staunchly conservative ideology that holds sway in North Dakota appears to be mellowing into something more moderate, as measured by a tracking poll.

But the magnitude of any shift in political philosophy could hinge on what poll respondents meant when describing themselves as moderate, analysts said.

North Dakota ranked among the top 10 most conservative states in recent years, according to Gallup’s “State of the States” polling.

The percentage of North Dakota residents who described themselves as conservative ranged from 49 percent in 2010, when the state ranked sixth most-conservative by Gallup, to 48.6 percent in 2012, when it ranked second in a tie with Wyoming.

Then, in 2013, North Dakota respondents describing themselves as conservative dipped to 42.9 percent and the state fell out of the top 10, to 13th most-conservative in Gallup rankings.


The trend continued in 2014, when 41 percent called themselves conservative and 40.8 percent called themselves moderate.

That drift toward the ideological center was enough, in fact, for North Dakota to find itself among the top 10 moderate states in Gallup’s rankings, behind Delaware and Rhode Island and ahead of Wyoming and South Dakota.

“I think it is a fair question to say are these moderates really moderate?” said Lloyd Omdahl, a retired political science professor at the University of North Dakota. “What is a moderate?”

The confrontational conservative tea party movement is at odds with the “North Dakota nice” culture of seeking compromise, said Mark Jendrysik, a professor of political science at UND.

“You can call yourself a moderate and still be very conservative in North Dakota,” he said. “Moderate is a warm, fuzzy term” that might appeal to some more than conservative.

Liberals lag far behind conservatives and moderates in North Dakota. Last year, 13.5 percent of the Gallup poll respondents described themselves as liberal.

That gives the conservatives a 27.5 percent advantage over liberals, as gauged by Gallup, an affiliation that helps to explain the Republican Party’s stranglehold on elective statewide and legislative offices.

“Based on election results, you absolutely are seeing these two groups come together to keep the state going in the right direction,” said Jason Flohrs, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party, referring to conservatives and moderates.


North Dakota does rank among the top 10 most solidly Republican states, according to Gallup.

Chad Oban, the executive director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, said the gain among moderates is a result of extreme positions identified with conservatives in recent years.

“When you think about North Dakota, we’re not extreme on the right or left,” Oban said. “We’re pretty moderate.”

Kjersten Nelson, who teaches political science at North Dakota State University, agreed with Oban that conservative activism on certain polarizing social issues, including so-called “personhood” amendment proposals, could be a factor in the drop in respondents describing themselves as conservative.

“I think conservatism in North Dakota tends to be more libertarian than in some other states,” Nelson said.

Another possibility is the increasing population, including an influx from other states, she said.


What to read next
A consultant's report to close behavioral service gaps in North Dakota recommends that rural hospitals be able to assess, stabilize and transfer unstable psychiatric patients. But hospital representatives say they face significant challenges.
Many trans patients have trouble getting their insurers to cover gender-affirming care. One reason is transphobia within the U.S. health care system, but another involves how medical diagnoses and procedures are coded for insurance companies. Advocates for transgender people say those codes haven’t caught up to the needs of patients. Such diagnostic codes provide the basis for determining which procedures, such as electrolysis or surgery, insurance will cover.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack responds to some of the things readers commonly ask about her writing and how she chooses topics.
Following an internal change at the clinic allowing vaccinated employees to work without masks in areas of no patient contact, the clinic's expansive Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center now allows members to work out without face coverings for the first time since the start of the pandemic.