PORTLAND, Ore. - Republican Chris Dudley is widening the gap over his Democratic opponent, John Kitzhaber, in the race for Oregon’s governor, a new KATU News/SurveyUSA poll released Wednesday showed.
Dudley garnered 49 percent to Kitzhaber’s 43 percent of 562 likely voters surveyed. Seven weeks ago a KATU News/SurveyUSA poll found Dudley getting 46 percent of the vote to Kitzhaber’s 44 percent.
According to the pollsters, Dudley is doing well among men and independents, leading Kitzhaber by 19 points and 33 points respectively.
The pollsters note, however, that Kitzhaber has gained ground with women and may be making progress with older voters.
Constitution Party candidate Greg Kord got 3 percent while Libertarian Wes Wagner got 2 percent. Three percent said they were undecided.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.
On Tuesday Riley Research Associates released a poll that found the governor’s race tied. In that poll Kitzhaber received 40 percent of the vote while Dudley received 39 percent. Sixteen percent said they were undecided.
That poll surveyed 392 voters and had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
In three consecutive KATUNews/SurveyUSA polls, Kitzhaber has never polled above 44 percent and Dudley has never polled below 46 percent. Additionally, Kitzhaber has never led.
As far as his popularity with men, Dudley said he doesn’t think his history as an NBA player has much influence with those voters.
“I don’t necessarily think so,” he said at an Albany area Chamber of Commerce event where he unveiled a plan to create jobs. “I think maybe it gets the initial attention, but then someone’s going to look at what your policies are.”
The chair of the political science department at Willamette University, Melissa Buis Michaux, said in recent elections men have been more likely to vote Republican, but Dudley’s 19-point lead suggests something else is afoot.
“The Dudley campaign is offering something to men that is appealing to them,” Michaux said. “And this might just be a case where his basketball career is appealing to male voters.”
“Statistics probably would show men are bigger sports fans and probably follow (the) NBA more, so he’s probably more of a known quantity,” said Dan Ripplinger, a Dudley supporter.
One female voter called Kitzhaber “nurturing,” which may explain why Kitzhaber is gaining ground with women and why she dislikes Dudley.
“He’s (Dudley) kind of a run of the mill macho guy-style,” said Maiah Scalise. “He really evades a lot of issues that need to be talked about.”
The Kitzhaber campaign said the KATU News poll shows Dudley is the one not resonating with voters.
“What is most noteworthy is that he isn’t pulling ahead even after outspending us 2 to 1,” said Kitzhaber spokeswoman Jillian Schoene.
“They’re probably not real happy with where they are,” said Dudley. “After all, you have someone who was governor for eight years and in government for 22 years.”
The KATU News/SurveyUSA poll also found that Democrat Ron Wyden has a strong lead over Republican Jim Huffman 54 percent to 38 percent in Oregon’s U.S. Senate race.
To see the full results, click here.
- Melica Johnson reported from Salem.
The Race for Governor - KATU.com interviews with Chris Dudley and John Kitzhaber
(Click on the pictures below to watch and read about the candidates' ideas on jobs and the economy)