Kitzhaber pulls ahead in latest KATU News/SurveyUSA poll

Kitzhaber pulls ahead in latest KATU News/SurveyUSA poll »Play Video
Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley. (AP photos/Rick Bowmer)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber has pulled ahead of Republican candidate Chris Dudley by seven points, in the latest KATU News/SurveyUSA poll released Friday.

SurveyUSA interviewed 800 adults and out of those it determined 580 were likely to vote or had voted. The poll found that 48 percent favored Kitzhaber while 41 percent favored Dudley, but unlike previous polls, SurveyUSA also called individuals on cell phones with a live person. In past SurveyUSA polls, only a recorded voice conducted the interviews on landlines.

Kitzhaber did far better among cell-phone respondents than those called on landlines. He was 15 points ahead of Dudley among those users but only four points ahead of those called on landlines.

The poll found Kitzhaber gaining ground among men but Dudley leads among those who are “uniquely motivated” to vote this year and rarely vote during the midterms.

The poll found that Kitzhaber leads Dudley by 11 points among those who have already voted but the candidates are even among those who say they will vote. The pollsters note that Dudley will have to do better than Kitzhaber among those who have not yet returned their ballots to win.

Both candidates say they’re not taking the poll too seriously and are focused on the last four days of campaigning. But political experts say these final polls do matter.

Kitzhaber found out about the new poll from a KATU reporter as he dropped off his ballot at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

“I don’t pay much attention to the polls,” he said. “They’ve been up and down, and I think they’re all within a margin of error. The point here is this is going to be a very close race and we’re going to continue working just as hard as we can between now and 8 o’clock on Tuesday.

Dudley spent the day meeting and greeting people in Southern Oregon and still quotes an older poll that puts him up three points.

“Up three with four days to go,” he said. “I feel good about it - just got to close the deal – really just get out the vote, making sure everybody has a say and gets ballots in and that’s what is so important right now in closing up the stretch.”

Ron Tammen, a Portland State University political science professor, says the poll is surprising.

“It’s very interesting and it may be that Oregon defies the national trend,” he said.

While he says the candidates may brush off polls, “This is a particularly important poll because this poll picks up people that have already voted. So you’re not only getting people who say this is how I’m going to vote but this is how I have voted.”

Kitzhaber is also ahead in all ages and has a wide lead with women. Dudley has a slim lead with non-affiliated voters.

The poll was conducted between Oct. 23 and Oct. 28 and the margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percent.

SurveyUSA also found in the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Ron Wyden had 57 percent to Republican Jim Huffman’s 32 percent.

On Measure 74, the poll found that 45 percent are against state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries while 35 percent are for them and 19 percent aren’t sure.

Pollsters found that 54 percent of respondents are against a privately-owned Multnomah County casino, while 24 percent support Measure 75.