The challenge for Heitkamp, whom Democrats have touted as a top-flight recruit to keep a Senate seat in a GOP stronghold, is that her party is likely to lose the state at the presidential level badly. In the sweep of 2008, Barack Obama still lost North Dakota to Sen. John McCain by eight percentage points. This year, Heitkamp is running against Republican Rep. Rick Berg, who likely only has to match his party nominee's electoral performance. Heitkamp may have to best Obama's showing by double-digits. It's no wonder she promises to be an "independent voice" in Washington and avoids calling herself a Democrat on the state's airwaves.