Why Doug Burgum Could Surprise In The 2024 Republican Primary (2023)

2024 Election

Why Doug Burgum Could Surprise In The 2024 Republican Primary (1)

It’s high season for glossy campaign videos and American flag bunting. In the last 16 hours, three Republicans have announced they’re running for president — an unfortunate syzygy for candidates whose meticulously crafted messages are now in danger of getting drowned out. And with his virtually nonexistent national profile, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum likely has the most to lose from sharing the news cycle with former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. On the other hand, he may not care too much: Thanks to his deep pockets (and the other candidates’ lackluster prospects), Burgum may have the most upside of the three.

You could be forgiven for never having heard of Burgum before. He’s governor of the nation’s fourth-smallest state by population, and until a couple weeks ago, virtually no one outside of North Dakota was talking about him as a potential future president. (Those reading in-state media, though, were hip to it as early as March.) The first polls to include him as an option in the primary were released on May 24 (he received 1 percent in one and 0 percent in the other), and Morning Consult’s latest poll found that only 23 percent of potential Republican primary voters knew enough about him to form an opinion of him.

Who is Doug Burgum the North Dakota governor running for president? | FiveThirtyEight

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So why does Burgum think he has a shot at the White House? Maybe because he’s gone from anonymous dark horse to Republican primary winner once before. In 2016, everyone assumed that then-North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem would be the state’s next governor. He led Burgum 59 percent to 10 percent in a February poll of the GOP primary, and he received the official endorsement of the North Dakota Republican Party at the party convention in April. But in the June primary, Burgum defeated Stenehjem 59 percent to 39 percent.

How did he pull it off? A big part of it was money. Burgum is a software executive — and a very successful one. He was an early investor in Great Plains Software, which he sold to Microsoft in 2001 for $1.1 billion. With the help of one William Gates of Seattle, Washington, he outraised Stenehjem at least $966,000 to $752,000 in that 2016 primary. And we say “at least” because that number doesn’t include whatever Burgum self-funded — at the time, North Dakota law didn’t require candidates to disclose contributions they made to their own campaign.

Burgum is reportedly going to use the same playbook in 2024: A source told ABC News that he will self-fund his presidential campaign. Considering that his net worth as of last year was reportedly more than $1 billion, he could probably pump several million dollars into the race without breaking a sweat. And that would immediately make him one of the primary’s top fundraisers. It was a couple months ago, but as of March 31, only two Republicans had raised more than $12 million or had at least that much money in the bank.1

Only a few presidential candidates are flush with cash

Fundraising total receipts and cash on hand for Republican presidential candidates as of March 31, 2023

Candidate Total Receipts Cash on Hand
Donald Trump $18,272,903 $13,931,948
Vivek Ramaswamy 11,418,449 9,367,288
Nikki Haley 5,125,431 4,069,549
Perry Johnson 3,763,396 2,036,476
Tim Scott 1,646,202 21,912,915

According to political science research, the connection between spending money and winning elections isn’t automatic — just ask former New York City mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. But one of the contexts in which campaign cash can be very helpful is early on in a primary when the candidate is not very well known. This, of course, is exactly Burgum’s situation. His lack of name recognition is actually an asset when paired with his fat wallet; it will allow him to define himself however he wants for a national audience. As governor, Burgum has been a bit hard to pin down ideologically, and it will be interesting to see how he defines himself once he enters the GOP race. Will we get the wonky, temperate Burgum who geeks out over energy policy and once called an anti-LGBTQ+ resolution “hurtful and divisive”? Or the rock-ribbed conservative Burgum who signed multiple pieces of anti-transgender legislation and one of the strictest abortion bans in the country?

Now, let’s not get carried away: Burgum is very unlikely to win the actual nomination. (As you may have heard, there’s this guy named Donald Trump who has a dominant lead in both polls and endorsements, both of which have historically been pretty predictive.) But Burgum could spend enough to have a meaningful impact on the race.

Let’s say Burgum really commits to the bit and kicks in $50 million of his own money before the end of the year. The list of presidential candidates who have raised the equivalent of $50 million in 2023 dollars by that point in the cycle is full of notable names. If they didn’t win the nomination, most of them were at least an important part of the narrative of the election cycle in which they ran.

Free-spending candidates do well in presidential primaries

Democratic and Republican candidates who have raised at least $50 million (in 2023 dollars) in incumbent-less presidential primaries before Jan. 1 of election years since 2000 and where they eventually finished in the primary, based on delegates won

Candidate Party Year Total Receipts Self-Funded Finish
Tom Steyer D 2020 $244.8m $240.3m T-8th
Michael Bloomberg D 2020 237.7 237.5 4th
Hillary Clinton D 2008 173.1 0.0 2nd
Barack Obama D 2008 151.9 0.0 1st
Hillary Clinton D 2016 147.9 0.5 1st
Mitt Romney R 2008 131.8 0.1 3rd
Steve Forbes R 2000 129.8 120.3 4th
Bernie Sanders D 2020 129.0 0.0 2nd
George W. Bush R 2000 125.0 0.0 1st
Elizabeth Warren D 2020 97.3 0.0 3rd
Bernie Sanders D 2016 96.0 0.0 2nd
Rudy Giuliani R 2008 90.2 0.0 T-8th
Mitt Romney R 2012 77.0 0.0 1st
Joe Biden D 2020 72.4 0.0 1st
Ben Carson R 2016 69.2 0.0 5th
Howard Dean D 2004 68.2 0.0 3rd
John Edwards D 2008 64.8 0.0 3rd
John McCain R 2008 61.6 0.0 1st
Ted Cruz R 2016 60.3 0.0 2nd
Al Gore D 2000 52.7 0.0 1st
Marco Rubio R 2016 50.6 0.0 3rd
Bill Bradley D 2000 50.6 0.0 2nd

The 2024 Republican primary already has a clear front-runner in Trump and a clear main alternative in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But after that, the field is wide open; according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average, the third-place candidate nationally right now is former Vice President Mike Pence with only 5 percent support. Burgum would need his money to give him only about a 5-percentage-point boost to become the main alternative to the main alternative. And given that DeSantis has faced questions about his awkwardness and political skills — coinciding with his national polling average falling from 30 percent on March 21 to 21 percent today — that could be a valuable place to be.

That, to be clear, is Burgum’s best-case scenario. He may not spend $50 million — and even if he does, he may not surpass DeSantis, or even Pence. But his first barrage of spending — whether it comes immediately or in several months — will be worth watching closely. In politics, candidates who spend a ton of money eventually encounter diminishing returns — in other words, Burgum’s first $20 million spent will get him further than dollars 100-120 million. Once we see how much he is willing to spend and where he ends up once he has spent the first wave of it, we’ll know a lot more about whether Burgum is a candidate to watch.


  1. One name you might not recognize in the table below is Perry Johnson. He’s a businessman running a quixotic presidential campaign who, decent fundraising aside, doesn’t qualify as a major candidate by our definition.

Nathaniel Rakich is a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight. @baseballot

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2024 Election (79 posts)2024 Republican Primary (66)North Dakota (42)Republican Primaries (27)Campaign Finance (24)Republican Governors (23)Doug Burgum (2)



Is Mr Burgum a Republican governor of North Dakota? ›

Douglas James Burgum (born August 1, 1956) is an American entrepreneur and politician serving as the 33rd governor of North Dakota since 2016. A member of the Republican Party, Burgum was an angel investor in and the president of Great Plains Software and is a candidate in the 2024 United States presidential election.

Why is Burgum running for president? ›

“We need a change in the White House. We need a new leader for a changing economy. That's why I'm announcing my run for president today,” he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

How many major Republican candidates were there at the beginning of the primary caucus season in 2012? ›

However, the field was down to four candidates by February 2012: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, former Governor Romney and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

How old is Doug Burgum? ›

Is North Dakota a Republican state or a democratic state? ›

North Dakota, a rural state covered in the Midwestern Plains, is one of the most reliably Republican states in the nation.

Who won governor in North Dakota? ›

Who is Burgum running for president 2024? ›

Doug Burgum joins 2024 presidential race against Trump, DeSantis. "There's a value to being underestimated," he has said. He is the 12th Republican to announce his candidacy.

Is Gov Burgum running for president 2024? ›

North Dakota Gov.

To unlock the best of America, we need a leader who's clearly focused on three things: economy, energy and national security. [cheering] And that is why today, I'm officially announcing I'm running for the president of the United States of America.

Who is Doug Burgum's campaign manager? ›

On June 12, it was reported that Burgum had become the top-spending candidate in both Iowa and New Hampshire, mostly on television advertisements. On June 21, 2023, Politico reported that Burgum hired Mike Zolnierowicz, former Chief of Staff to Bruce Rauner, as his campaign manager.

How many times has the Republican Party won the presidency? ›

Six of the nine current U.S. Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents. Its most recent presidential nominee was Donald Trump, who was the 45th U.S. president from 2017 to 2021. There have been 19 Republican presidents, the most from any one political party.

When did party primaries become popular? ›

The first primary elections came in the Democratic Party in the South in the 1890s starting in Louisiana in 1892. By 1897 in 11 Southern and border states the Democratic party held primaries to select candidates.

Who ran against Obama in his first election? ›

Obama won a decisive victory over McCain, winning the Electoral College and the popular vote by a sizable margin, including states that had not voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1976 (North Carolina) and 1964 (Indiana, Virginia, and Nebraska's 2nd congressional district).

What kind of name is Burgum? ›

Name origin. BURGUM is listed in the book 'Surnames of the U.K.' by William Harrison (published by Eaton Press in 1912). It states... 'BURGUM, BURGHAM (Eng): Belonging to Burgham = the field or enclosure of the stronghold (Old English - Burg, a stronghold; and ham - an enclosure, a piece of land). '

Is Doug Burgum up for reelection? ›

Doug Burgum (Republican Party) is the 33rd governor of North Dakota. He assumed office on December 15, 2016. His current term ends on December 15, 2024. He was last elected in the general election on November 3, 2020, on a joint ticket with Lt.

What is the net worth of Doug Burgum? ›

His net worth was estimated to be over $1 billion. Burgum's entrepreneurial journey began when he mortgaged his inherited farmland in 1983 to invest in Great Plains Software.

Is North Dakota more liberal or conservative? ›

The political leanings of the state since its creation have been largely conservative. However, there has also been a vein of political progressivism within the state's history, particularly with populist efforts to gain better conditions for subsistence farmers.

What is the most Democrat state? ›

As of 2018, Massachusetts was the most Democratic state, with 56% of residents identifying as Democrats, while only 27% of residents identified as Republicans.

Can a felon vote in North Dakota? ›

North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, or Washington State

In these states, you only lose your right to vote if you are currently incarcerated for a felony conviction. If you lost your voting rights because of a conviction, you can register to vote immediately after your release.

What is North Dakota known for? ›

North Dakota is known for its Badlands, now part of the 70,000-acre Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Roosevelt's journey to the Dakota Territory in 1883 to hunt bison was among his Western ventures that instilled in him a fervor for preservation of natural lands, and ultimately the first national parks.

How much does the governor of North Dakota make? ›

Governor of North Dakota
FormationNovember 20, 1889
DeputyLieutenant Governor of North Dakota
Salary$135,360 (2020)
WebsiteOfficial website
9 more rows

Who picks the president in Russia? ›

The president is elected on basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage through secret ballots. The president is to be elected for a term of six years.

Who is the governor of North Dakota now? ›

Who is APC 2023 president? ›

Hadley Wilson, MD.” The new ACC President for the 2023-2024 term, Wilson is a third-generation cardiologist, with Atrium Health, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute Adult Cardiology Kenilworth (Charlotte, NC).

How long is bidens presidency? ›

Who is the wife of the governor of North Dakota? ›

Kathryn Burgum became First Lady on December 15, 2016, when her husband Governor Doug Burgum was sworn in as the 33rd Governor of North Dakota. As First Lady, Kathryn's priority is supporting and developing initiatives to eliminate the shame and stigma of the chronic disease of addiction in North Dakota's communities.

Who is the governor of South Dakota? ›

South Dakota Governor. Today, Governor Kristi Noem announced that she will appoint Randy Frederick and Randy Rasmussen to serve on the South Dakota Board of Regents.

What President won 3 times? ›

Roosevelt won a third term by defeating Republican nominee Wendell Willkie in the 1940 United States presidential election. He remains the only president to serve for more than two terms.

Which is the largest and strongest political party in the world? ›

Parties with over 50 million members
1Bharatiya Janata Party Indian People's PartyBJP
2Chinese Communist PartyCCP CPC

When was the last time a President was not a Democrat or Republican? ›

Millard Fillmore, a member of the Whig party, was the 13th President of the United States (1850-1853) and the last President not to be affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties.

What's the point of primary elections? ›

The Primary Election is held to nominate political party candidates to the General Election ballot; therefore, candidates not affiliated with either political party cannot participate in the Primary Election.

What state holds the first primary? ›

It is generally followed by the New Hampshire primary, the first primary by tradition since 1920 and by New Hampshire state law.

How do primaries work? ›

All primary candidates for an office are listed on a single ballot, and only the two candidates who get the most votes in the primary election will move on to the general election. Write-in candidates for voter-nominated offices can still run in the primary election.

What percentage of all veterans voted in the 2008 presidential election? ›

Number of veterans who voted in the 2008 presidential election. Seventy-one percent of veterans cast a ballot in the presidential election.

Who opposed Obama in 2012? ›

On September 5, 2012, he again became the nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2012 presidential election. Along with his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, Obama was opposed in the general election by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, along with various minor candidates from other parties.

Who lost to Obama in 2008? ›

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Is Bernt a German name? ›

Bernt as a boy's name is of Old French and Old German origin meaning "strong and brave bear".

Where does the name Bergum come from? ›

Norwegian: habitational name from a farmstead named Bergum from the dative plural of berg 'mountain hill'.

Is heiser a German name? ›

South German:: variant of Häuser (see Hauser ) or Heuser . This surname (possibly also in the sense 2 below) is also found in France (Alsace and Lorraine). nickname for a person with a rasping voice from Middle High German heiser 'hoarse'.

Is Gov Burgum a Republican? ›

Douglas James Burgum (born August 1, 1956) is an American entrepreneur and politician serving as the 33rd governor of North Dakota since 2016. A member of the Republican Party, Burgum was an angel investor in and the president of Great Plains Software and is a candidate in the 2024 United States presidential election.

How long is a governor's term in South Dakota? ›

The governor is the chief executive of the state and is elected to a four-year term in nonpresidential election years. The candidates for governor and lieutenant governor of each party must run as a team. South Dakota law also permits independent candidates to file for the general election.

Is North Dakota conservative? ›

The political leanings of the state since its creation have been largely conservative.

Does North Dakota have a Democratic governor? ›

The current officeholder is Republican Doug Burgum.

Who is the Republican senator from North Dakota? ›

Kevin Cramer was elected to the United States Senate on November 6, 2018 after serving three terms as North Dakota's At-Large Member of the United States House of Representatives. He is the first Republican to hold this Senate seat in his lifetime.

Who is the Republican presidential candidate for North Dakota? ›

GOP presidential candidate Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota, makes Iowa debut. Clad in cowboy boots and a branded campaign vest, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum made his first Iowa visit Friday in his long-shot presidential bid.

What is the most conservative state to live in? ›

Republican, or "red," states are the most conservative-leaning states. Wyoming is the most Republican state in the U.S.. 67% of residents in Wyoming identify as Republican or Republican-leaning.

What is the least conservative state? ›

A new report from the Center for Legislative Accountability (CLA) has ranked all 50 states from most to least conservative, with Alabama leading as the most conservative state in the U.S. and Massachusetts as the least conservative.

What is the most liberal state? ›

Most Liberal States [Updated April 2023]
  1. Massachusetts. Massachusetts is the most liberal state in the U.S., with 35% of voters identifying as liberal. ...
  2. Hawaii. Hawaii is the second-most liberal state in the United States. ...
  3. Rhode Island. ...
  4. California. ...
  5. New York. ...
  6. Vermont. ...
  7. Maryland. ...
  8. New Jersey.

Is Doug Burgum a Republican or Democrat? ›

Doug Burgum (Republican Party) is the 33rd governor of North Dakota.

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In the United States, a governor is the chief executive officer of a state or a territory. As of January 18, 2023, there are 26 states with Republican governors and 24 states with Democratic governors. Additionally, four U.S. territories have Democratic governors, while one has an independent governor.

Is Montana a red state? ›

Montana has been reliably Republican in recent presidential elections, having voted for only two Democrats since 1952.

How cold is Dakota? ›

The Rocky Mountains frequently block air masses from the southern Pacific Ocean from reaching the state. North Dakota's average annual temperature ranges from 37° F in the northern part of the state to 43° F in the south. January is the coldest month.

Is North Dakota a good place to live? ›

North Dakota comes in below the national average for both violent crime and property crime. And the crime rate is further dipping with every year. Homes are generally affordable in North Dakota. The average cost of buying a home in the state is $204,500, which is lower than the national average.

What party controls South Dakota? ›

The South Dakota Republican Party controls all ten statewide offices and holds majorities in the South Dakota Senate and the South Dakota House of Representatives. Republicans also hold both of the state's U.S. Senate seats and the state's at-large congressional seat.

Has North Dakota always been Republican? ›

In 1986, Democrats for the first time won control of the State Senate, as well. After a century of domination by the Republican Party, North Dakota now has a vibrant two-party politics.

What president lived in North Dakota? ›

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, came to the Badlands of what is now North Dakota for the first time in 1883. Excited about the prospects for an open-range cattle industry, he invested in a ranch along the Little Missouri River near Medora before returning to New York.


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