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The majority in the North Dakota Chamber poll say Trump should not choose Burgum for vice president

MINOT — A recent newsletter sent by the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce to its members included a poll asking recipients whether former President Donald Trump should choose North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum as his running mate.

A majority of respondents said, “No, he shouldn’t.”

It's a slim majority. Over 52% said Trump shouldn't choose Burgum, while just under 48% said he should. Still, the results are shocking. While a newsletter poll isn't the most scientific measure, the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce is one of our state's largest and most consequential constituency organizations. And its members – business owners and entrepreneurs – are right in the middle of Burgum's key demographic.

A reader brought the survey results to my attention. Chamber President Arik Spencer was kind enough to send me a copy of the newsletter when I inquired about it.

Given that these are largely his kind of people, I would have expected more support for Burgum getting a spot on a national ticket. What gives?

Is this result about burgum? The governor handily won the 2016 and 2020 elections, but recently some publicly released opinion polls have suggested his approval ratings are weak. Since announcing his presidential campaign last year, Burgum has spent a lot of time out of state, and his chosen successor, Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, is proving unpopular with voters as she seeks the Republican nomination for her own term as governor.

Perhaps the Chamber members are feeling Burgum fatigue?

That could be the case, but if that's the case, I'm not sure it translates into opposition to a position on Trump's campaign. Tired of Burgum as governor does not mean rejecting Burgum as the potential next vice president. Even people who might be a little resentful of Burgum might be excited about his inclusion on a national ticket. Seeing a North Dakotan in the White House, second in line for presidential candidates, should appeal to the citizens of our often-overlooked state.

But this is Donald Trump we're talking about, so nothing is normal.

There are many reasons why Burgum sought a spot as Trump's vice presidential running mate.

Burgum has gone from someone who never made a personal political donation to Trump and said he wouldn't do business with Trump to someone who is now standing in front of the New York courthouse where Trump is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records to cover up an affair is on trial with a porn actor. He wore a Trump costume and described the procedure as a “hoax”.

Even to Trump supporters, this flip-flop must come across as recklessly opportunistic and blatantly hypocritical.

But perhaps a sizable portion of the chamber's members also aren't thrilled with the existential chaos that a second Trump term would bring, and aren't happy that Burgum is doing his best to bring about that outcome. Business leaders tell us again and again that the best environment for trade and entrepreneurship is a politically stable environment.

Trump is not known for promoting a stable environment.

Of course, the explanation for this survey result does not have to be one or the other. Maybe it isn't. The individual paths we take to reach our opinion are diverse.

Still, that result is worth pondering as it comes from the business community of a Trump-voting state where Burgum served as a largely popular, pro-business governor for nearly a decade.

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist and podcast host for Forum News Service with extensive experience in investigations and public records. He covers politics and government in North Dakota and the Upper Midwest. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.

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