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Oregon Poll: Clinton Gains Big Lead Over Trump; Measure 97 Opposition Grows

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with audience members during a campaign stop in Coral Springs, Fla., Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with audience members during a campaign stop in Coral Springs, Fla., Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.

Matt Rourke

A new poll by a Portland research firm suggests that voter sentiment in Oregon is moving strongly in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton and turning toward opposition to the Measure 97 corporate tax initiative.

The Sept. 29-Oct. 1 telephone survey of 605 likely voters was conducted by Hoffman Research. The firm’s chief executive officer, Tim Nashif, is also a Republican activist. But he says the poll was conducted independently and was not influenced by his own political views.

The poll found that Clinton is supported by 45 percent of voters, to 33 percent for Republican Donald Trump.  Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is backed by 8 percent and Jill Stein is supported by 3 percent. 

Another 11 percent of voters are undecided.  More than half of those undecided voters said they couldn’t choose one of those candidates even if they absolutely had to vote for one.

Clinton’s lead in Oregon is driven by stronger levels of support among Democrats than Trump receives from Republicans and by higher support among those who aren’t registered with either major party.

Support for Johnson and Stein is strongest among voters between age 18 and 34.  Of voters in that age group, 17 percent back Johnson and 15 percent support Stein.

Nashif said he thought Clinton’s strong debate performance on Sept. 26 helped to cement her lead in Oregon.  “Since that debate, the numbers around the nation have improved for Hillary,” he said.

Democrats have won every presidential election in Oregon since 1988, so it’s no surprise that Clinton is leading, he added.

Previous polls taken for Measure 97 have shown a lead among Oregon voters.  It would hike taxes on corporations in the state with annual sales of more than $25 million. Nashif says forcing large corporations to pay more is an appealing concept, particularly since money is supposed to be directed toward schools, health care and senior services.

But the Hoffman Research poll finds that 47 percent of voters are opposed to the tax measure and 41 percent are in favor. 

The poll comes days after the corporate-funded opposition to Measure 97 launched an expensive TV ad campaign portraying it as a hidden sales tax that would affect average Oregonians.

“It almost comes across as a sales tax,” said Nashif, “and as you know, Oregonians don’t like sales taxes.”

Opposition is particularly high among Republicans and a plurality of independent voters are also opposed.  Older voters are also much more likely to be opposed.

The margin of error for the survey is 4 percentage points, plus or minus.

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