PORTLAND, Ore. – Gov. John Kitzhaber has said the failure of Cover Oregon could harm his chances of re-election in November, and an exclusive KATU/SurveyUSA poll shows there might be some truth to that.
A majority of voters hold him personally accountable for Cover Oregon's failure, but if the election were today, Kitzhaber, a Democrat, would likely win a historic fourth term as Oregon's governor.
The survey polled 560 likely voters across Oregon last week and 48 percent of them said they’d vote for Kitzhaber while 35 percent would vote for his Republican challenger state Rep. Dennis Richardson of Central Point.
In Portland, however, Kitzhaber holds a 21-point lead over Richardson, but in the rest of the state, Richardson and Kitzhaber are tied.
For some perspective, there are more registered Democrats in the Portland area than Republicans.
As far as Cover Oregon goes, voters are pretty evenly split about how much of a factor its failure will have on their vote: 37 percent said it will be a major factor, 27 percent said it will be a minor factor and 30 percent said it will not be a factor at all.
But here’s something to watch. A majority of voters think Kitzhaber is personally to blame for Cover Oregon’s failure. Twenty percent said he’s to blame for all of Cover Oregon’s problems, 19 percent said he’s to blame for most of the problems and 37 percent said he’s to blame for some of the health exchange’s problems. Only 19 percent said he deserves none of the blame.
It could be a huge hurdle for Kitzhaber to overcome if he didn’t already have strong support from voters in his party.
The poll also surveyed likely voters on Oregon’s race for U.S. Senate. In that race, Democratic incumbent Jeff Merkley has a strong lead over his Republican challenger Monica Wehby, a pediatric surgeon. Right now, 50 percent of likely voters back Merkley while 32 percent support Wehby.
Women voters support Merkley 50 percent to Wehby’s 29 percent.
SurveyUSA also asked about some of the issues that may be on the ballot this November, including legalizing recreational marijuana.
Fifty-one percent support legalization of pot, 41 percent oppose legalizing it and 8 percent aren’t sure.
Regarding Initiative 10, the “Oregon Castle Doctrine,” which would expand laws allowing you to use deadly force in your home if someone is trespassing, 47 percent said they would definitely vote to expand those laws, 14 percent said they would not vote to expand the laws and 38 percent weren’t sure.
Other questions the pollsters asked:
How much of a factor will the future of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, be in determining how you will vote in the race for United States Senate? A major factor? A minor factor? Or not a factor at all?
48 percent Major Factor
26 percent Minor Factor
24 percent Not a Factor
1 percent Not Sure
On Initiative 27, which would require some genetically engineered food to be labeled as such. On Initiative 27, are you ... Certain to vote yes? Certain to vote no? Or not certain?
51 percent Yes
14 percent No
35 percent Not Certain
All questions had a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.
Pollsters contacted respondents via cellphone and landlines.