The Campaign Spot

A Slightly Better Outlook for Oregon Republicans, but Not Enough Yet

Here’s the slightly good news for Dennis Richardson, the Republican candidate for governor in Oregon: The latest poll by YouGov puts him down, 48 percent to 42 percent, to incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber. That’s a bit better than the last one, which had him down 49 percent to 42 percent.

Here’s the news that could cut either way: So far in this vote-by-mail state, only a tiny fraction of ballots have been returned: “As of Friday, 9.6 percent of the ballots statewide had been returned, with Wasco County leading the pack at just over 16 percent.”

There’s been a surge of voter registration this year, mostly among college students. At first glance, that’s not good news for a Republican candidate, but young voters may be not as warm to the Democratic party as expected:

A big part of the increase came in a voter registration drive spearheaded by the Oregon Student Association, which claimed to register 55,000 students around the state. Officials involved in registration drives during the summer and early fall had said that many of their registrants were shying away from registering with the major parties.

Remember that Survey USA asked the 60 percent of the sample paying close attention to the governor’s election and who are following news stories about the scandals surrounding First Lady Cylvia Hayes, and found that 18 percent of those respondents agreed, “I was going to vote for Kitzhaber but now I will vote for Richardson.” Only 1 percent “were going to vote for Richardson but now will vote for Kitzhaber.” In other words, there is some segment of the electorate that is upset enough with Kitzhaber to vote for the GOP’s Richardson — and SurveyUSA characterized those respondents as “disproportionately young, male, independent, liberals.”

In Survey USA’s sample, 856 respondents were registered to vote and 407 were paying attention to both the campaign for governor and the Hayes scandals. Eighteen percent of that sample 407 is 73.26, so let’s assume 73 people. That 73 people out of the 856 registered voters suggests that 8 percent of registered voters are switching.

At this point, the evidence suggest the Hayes scandals are going to make this race closer — but it’s far from clear it will be enough to put Richardson over the top.

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