Poll: Hales increases lead over Smith in Portland mayor race

Poll: Hales increases lead over Smith in Portland mayor race »Play Video
Portland mayoral candidates Charlie Hales (left) and Jefferson Smith

PORTLAND, Ore. – A new poll shows Charlie Hales leads the race for Portland mayor over Jefferson Smith one month before the election.

According to a Survey USA poll conducted exclusively for KATU News, 37 percent of voters polled said they would vote for Hales if the election were held today, while 30 percent said they would elect Smith.

"Well it's certainly progress and progress is something we're happy to have," Hales said. "But obviously thousands of people are still making up their minds and we want to let them know that I'm the guy that can get things done."

The poll shows each candidate has plenty of room for movement with 33 percent of voters undecided. Members of both campaigns said they plan to start airing campaign ads on TV soon.

"With a third of voters undecided and a polling firm that had us way down, almost throughout the primary, what this should tell anybody who looks at it is first of all, let's not fixate on polls," Smith said.

Voters were polled nearly one week after revelations that Smith was involved in a fight with a woman when he was a college student at the University of Oregon in 1993. Smith said during a news conference on Oct. 1 that he struck a woman at a college party, although he claims he acted in self-defense.

The altercation was first reported by Willamette Week.

The poll was, however, conducted before Willamette Week and The Oregonian first reported the existence of the 1993 police report that said Smith told Eugene police that he struck the woman with his fist.

Survey USA found Smith's support among Republicans has eroded. In an identical Survey USA poll conducted three weeks ago for KATU News, Smith trailed Hales 34 percent to 30 percent among Republican voters.

In Wednesday’s poll, Hales’ lead among Republicans has increased to 25 points; 42 percent to 17 percent for Smith.

Hales also increased his lead among voters over 50. He led 47 percent to 30 percent in the poll conducted three weeks ago and now leads 52 percent to 27 percent.

There is a bright spot for Smith: Younger voters between the ages of 18 to 34.

They account for nearly a third of all likely voters, and they are overwhelmingly choosing Smith. And even better news for Smith, knowing he needs to make up ground, nearly half of younger voters say they're undecided.

Wednesday’s poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

The candidates' campaign websites:

Voters divided on fluoridation, but want issue on ballot

Voters remain divided on the issue of Portland water fluoridation. 47 percent said fluoride should not be added to the city’s drinking water, while 46 percent said it should. Eight percent said they were not sure.

The poll’s margin of error was +/-4.1 percent.

The overall results are nearly the same as a poll conducted by Survey USA for KATU News three weeks ago, although men and women have switched positions on the issue.

Men had opposed fluoridation, but now support it by a 51 percent to 44 percent margin. Women had supported fluoride, but now oppose it by a 50 percent to 41 percent margin.

Voters age 18-34 overwhelmingly oppose fluoridation while most voters age 35 and older support it.

Regardless of whether voters support fluoridation or not, the poll shows they believe voters should have the final say on the issue.

77 percent of voters said a decision should be made by Portland voters, while 20 percent said the Portland City Council should decide the issue.

Little movement in Portland ballot measures

On the Portland arts tax measure, 21 percent of voters said they were certain to vote yes and 22 percent were certain to vote no. 58 percent of voters polled were undecided.

The measure would create a $35 annual income tax to fund the arts and arts education.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

The Portland School District bond measure is not as close. 42 percent of polled voters said they support the measure, which would issue up to $482 million in bonds to improve Portland schools.

24 percent of voters said they do not support the measure. 34 percent said they were undecided.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

The Multnomah County Library taxing district creation measure, which would create a dedicated fund for county libraries, maintained nearly a two to one lead.

41 percent of voters support the measure, while 20 percent do not. 39 percent said they were uncertain.

The poll has a +/- 3.8 percent margin of error.