Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Big Oregon Poll News

From the trib:

By Steve Law

The Portland Tribune, Oct 28, 2008, Updated 4.5 hours ago

Democratic state Sens. Kate Brown and Ben Westlund are in solid position to become Oregon’s next secretary of state and state treasurer, according to a new poll for the Portland Tribune and Fox 12.

Brown, a Portland Democrat, leads Springfield Republican Rick Dancer, a former television journalist, 38 percent to 32 percent in the secretary of state’s race, according to a new poll by Portland polling firm Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall Inc. Portland software engineer Seth Woolley, running on the Pacific Green Party ticket, had 4 percent in the poll, while 25 percent were undecided.

Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall Inc. polled 500 registered voters around the state from Oct. 23 through Oct. 25. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Six weeks earlier, a Tribune/Fox 12 poll by the same firm found Brown led Dancer 33 percent to 25 percent, with 38 percent undecided.

Westlund, a Bend-area Democrat, leads Lake Oswego Republican Allen Alley by 39 percent to 28 percent in the treasurer’s race, the new poll showed. Constitution Party candidate Michael Marsh, a McDonald’s maintenance worker from Salem, is favored by 3 percent of voters, while 29 percent remain undecided, according to the poll.

A Tribune/News 12 poll by the same firm six weeks ago found Westlund led Alley 31 percent to 20 percent, with 45 percent undecided.

There still are a high number of undecided voters, giving Dancer and Alley a shot at winning, said Tim Hibbitts, who conducted the poll for Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall. But neither has narrowed the gap significantly since the last survey six weeks ago, and many Oregonians have already cast their ballots.

“Nobody’s really gained. What’s happened is the undecideds have dropped,” Hibbitts said.

If that pattern continues, “it benefits the Democrats,” he said. “It would be an upset for either Republican to win.”
New voters could swamp GOP

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and Oregon Treasurer Randall Edwards are stepping down after serving two terms. Neither is allowed to run again because of term limits. Bradbury is pondering a run for governor in 2010, while Edwards is exploring his career options.

Kate Brown, who has served in the Legislature since 1991, was Senate majority leader until she relinquished that position last year to run for secretary of state. A lawyer by training, she has worked in family law.

This is Dancer’s first run for elective office after a long television news career in Eugene.

Dancer entered the race late, while Brown has been campaigning since the 2007 legislative session ended. She has raised $1.6 million since August 2007, much of it spent on a competitive primary against fellow state Senators Rick Metsger and Vicki Walker. Dancer has raised $370,521.

Westlund gained statewide name recognition in 2006, when he switched from the Republican Party to run for governor as an independent. He later pulled out of the race and switched to the Democratic Party.

Westlund made a fortune in the bull-breeding business, and also co-owned a kitty litter manufacturing company. He works as a health care consultant.

Alley left his post as Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s deputy chief of staff to enter the race. He is a former venture capitalist, and former executive at two local technology companies. He was president of Pixelworks Inc. and vice president of InFocus Corp.

Alley is relatively new to politics but his business credentials helped land several newspaper endorsements. Alley appeared to be picking up momentum with the endorsements, which can prove helpful in a race where voters know little about the candidates or the office.

But Alley entered the race late, after initially announcing he wouldn’t run. Westlund has been actively campaigning since the 2007 legislative session ended, and has raised $754,977. Alley started collecting money in March of this year, and has raised $463,993.

The souring economy and President George W. Bush’s lackluster support among voters makes Hibbitts and most other political analysts doubtful of any Republican gains in Oregon this year. The one exception is Westlund’s state Senate seat. He initially won election as a Republican, not a Democrat, so the GOP has a good shot at reclaiming the seat.

Oregon Democrats’ success in enlisting new voters makes it even tougher for Republicans. Oregon Democrats added 158,321 registered voters from January through September, an increase of 20.9 percent. Republicans added only 979 registered voters during that period, an increase of 1.4 percent.

Democrats have a 43.3 percent to 32.5 percent voter-registration advantage over Republicans statewide, as of Sept. 30. At the end of 2007, Democrats led Republicans 38.8 percent to 35.2 percent among registered voters.

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