Poll: If Reese jumps into mayoral race, he'd be competitive

Poll: If Reese jumps into mayoral race, he'd be competitive »Play Video
Portland Police Chief Mike Reese. KATU Image.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Police Chief Mike Reese hasn't officially announced he will run for Portland mayor, but a KATU News/SurveyUSA poll shows he would have at least as much support, if not more, as the other major declared candidates.

The poll found if Reese were in the race he would garner 20 percent of the vote while businesswoman Eileen Brady would get 19 percent, former City Commissioner Charlie Hales 13 percent and state Rep. Jefferson Smith 11 percent.

Reese is seriously considering a run to replace Mayor Sam Adams who said last summer he would not seek a second term, but he said he won’t make an official decision for at least a couple weeks.

Reese fared particularly well with men, younger voters, conservatives and Hispanics in the poll.

With or without Reese, no one is a clear front-runner in the race.

When respondents were polled without Reese as part of the equation, 23 percent said they would vote for Brady, 19 percent would vote for Hales and 14 percent would vote for Smith.

Under either scenario, the poll found a large number of voters are undecided. With Reese in the race, 38 percent said they were undecided and without Reese, 44 percent said they were undecided.

The pollsters found Reese's entry into the race would mostly hurt Hales.

In response to KATU’s poll Hales said, "This polling tells me this race is wide open."

He noted that whether Reese is in the race or not, no one has a clear lead.

"These early polls just tell you what the possibilities are and they tell you what voters are thinking today when it may be a little bit like running for senior class president," Hales said.

More women lean toward Brady and she’s also stronger with older voters, according to the poll.

"I'm someone who has not been in City Hall before," she said Monday. "I'm coming with a fresh perspective. I think that's interesting to voters and it seems to be resonating."

But Brady's advantage in a three-person race evaporates when Reese is included.

"I have no idea if he'll enter the race. He's a good man, and I look forward to competing against whoever enters the race," she said.

The x-factor is the undecided voter. Undecided voters are more likely to be younger and as Smith's campaign notes, they will decide who wins.

SurveyUSA conducted the poll between Nov. 2 and Nov. 7. It contacted 800 adults and determined 731 were registered voters, and out of that 731, 537 were likely to vote in the May 2012 primary.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent and was conducted as Reese was featured prominently in the news for his response to Occupy Portland and the question to whether he’ll run for mayor. So that had to help him.

But the other candidates think the economy and job creation will be the key issues in the race. For that reason, they say, they like their chances.

SurveyUSA mostly uses an automated system with a recorded professional announcer to contact participants through their home phones. In recent polls it has also contacted participants through their smartphones and other electronic devices and shown them a questionnaire.

View the full SurveyUSA results