Elections | Local | Politics

Oregon Solidly Behind Obama, Other Races Still Waiting On Undecideds

OPB | Oct. 29, 2012 10 p.m. | Updated: Oct. 30, 2012 1:53 a.m. | Portland

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A new poll, commissioned by OPB and Fox-12, finds that Oregonians are likely to choose Barack Obama for President this election, and Portand voters seem to be poised to pick Charlie Hales as their next mayor.

The poll also finds many Oregon voters remain undecided about several key state races.

Up to 60 percent of registered voters have yet to decide on the statewide race for labor commissioner, and 15 percent don’t know who they’re going to chose in the Secretary of State race.

And in Portland, 34 percent of voters are undecided about whether to pick Mary Nolan or Amanda Fritz for their city commissioner.

Which means, those races may still be up in the air with one week to Election Day.

But at the top of the ticket, there are few undecided voters.

Pollster Tim Hibbitts

Pollster Tim Hibbitts

Kristian Foden-Vencil / OPB

The poll finds that 49 percent of Oregonians who are registered to vote plan to vote for Barack Obama, while 42 percent say they’ll pick Mitt Romney and 5 percent say they’ll vote for one of the minor candidates. 

Tim Hibbitts of Portland pollsters, DHM Research, says that while he’s predicting an Obama win, it’ll be by a much smaller margin than the 17-points Obama enjoyed in 2008.

“Now we’re looking at a 7-point margin and that clearly is an indication that President Obama, while he’s going to carry Oregon, he’s going to carry it by substantially less than he did in 2008.”

Jim Hulsey is a retired iron worker from Coos Bay who supports Romney.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t enthused about Romney, but the more I see of him, the more I like. It’s more like for Romney now, than against Obama.”

Hulsey says Romney is better equipped to turn the economy around.

Anne Donato is a retired hairdresser from Eugene. She’s voting for Obama.

“It’s pro-Obama, but high negatives for Romney as well. I think Romney is so greedy and so unwilling to study any reasons that anything might be the way it is,” Donato says.

The poll was conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 500 registered voters from Oregon were called and the poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percent.

It also looked at races for statewide office.

Kate Brown

Kate Brown

Michael Clapp / OPB

The battle between Democratic incumbent Secretary of State Kate Brown and her Republican challenger, Knute Buehler has been an expensive and barbed battle.

Brown is  ahead in this poll at 43 percent. Knute Buehler stands at 37 percent. But says pollster, Tim Hibbitts, there’s a large chunk of voters — 15 percent — who remain undecided.

“There is a chance that Mr. Buehler could pull off an upset, though I think it’s a long shot, he is within striking distance because of this large number of undecideds.”

Knute Buehler

Knute Buehler

Michael Clapp / OPB

Former Clackamas County worker, Alvin Flynn, says he’s voting for Buehler.

“Read the voters pamphlet that they send out and of course watching their  stuff that they put on TV. I just liked him better than I did her.”

Banks homemaker Dalice Sawyer says she voted for Kate Brown because she has met the candidate while doing part-time work at the state elections office.

“Each year that I work there she comes in to visit everyone to see how we’re doing. And goes around, shakes everybody’s hands. And I was just impressed with her. I know her and she’s already been doing the job and I haven’t heard any complaints,” Sawyer says.

While the battle between Buehler and Brown is close, the statewide race for Labor Commissioner is wide open.

Pollster Tim Hibbitts says a full 60 percent of voters have yet to decide.

“You’ve got a race where Avakian is at 22, Bruce Starr is at 19. You’ve got 60 percent of the voters undecided. This race is completely up in the air. I mean you might want to give Avakian a very very slight edge because he is the incumbent and he has a slight lead. But I have no idea what’s going to happen in this race.”

The poll also had a catchall question: in the election for the state legislature, will you vote for the Republican candidate; or the Democratic candidate in your district?

The split was 49 percent voting for Democrats or leaning in that direction,  and 36 percent voting for or leaning Republican.

“What this tells me is the Democrats are very very likely to take the Oregon House. The number of seats that they’ll have is questionable, will it be 31/29 or will it me 34/26? So I’m looking at this in a macro sort of a way, but with this kind of a margin it certainly tells me that the Democrats are likely to at least gain the one seat back, and possibly more to retake the Oregon House,” Hibbitts says.

DHM did a second poll for OPB and Fox 12. It surveyed 400 registered voters from Portland, and it has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Michael Clapp / OPB

Hibbitts says it puts Charlie Hales well ahead in Portland’s Mayoral race — with 44 percent of those polled going his way. 25 percent say they’re for Jefferson Smith — particularly among voters between 18 and 34.

What’s interesting in this poll says Hibbitts, is that people were asked if they might lean toward writing in the name of another person. 12 percent said yes, they would.

“I’ve polled in this city for 36 years. And I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a race in which so much stuff has come out,” Hibbitts says.

Susan Overback works for the census in Portland. She doesn’t think she’s going to write in a candidate, she just hasn’t decided yet between Hales and Smith.

Michael Clapp / OPB

“I haven’t had the time to decide by reading enough about each one of them and what they’ve said and so on. It’s that simple. I told myself that within the next several days that I would just sit down, read what I can and then decide.”

And the poll found there are many undecided voters in the race for Portland City commissioner, between Mary Nolan and Amanda Fritz.

“We have now Amanda Fritz leading with 37 percent, Mary Nolan with 29 percent.  And a huge 34 percent still undecided.  If Amanda Fritz was ahead by eight points and there were only 10 or 15 percent left undecided, I would say she is in great shape to be re-elected.  But with this many voters still undecided, I think it raises some uncertainty about the outcome. I think that Amanda Fritz is probably the favorite, but by no means is this race over,” Hibbitts says.

One side point, that has little to do with the election this season, but Portlanders remain pretty bullish on their town. 55 percent say the Rose City is headed in the right direction. 30 percent say Stumptown is on the wrong track and 14 percent say they just don’t know.


Statewide Survey

Portland Survey

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