A new poll shows that the Republican candidate for governor in the traditionally deep-blue state of Oregon holds a slight lead in the upcoming election.
The poll of 516 likely voters, conducted between May 25-27 by Oregon-based polling firm Nelson Research, found that former Oregon House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, the Republican nominee in the governor’s race, holds a 2-point advantage, 29.5%-27.5%, over Democratic nominee and former Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Tina Kotek. Independent candidate Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic State Senator running as a non-party affiliated candidate, came in third with 19.4% of the vote. The remaining 23.6% of voters were undecided.
Drazan’s lead is currently within the poll’s 4-point margin of error, but the poll’s crosstabs show that Drazan has several factors working in her favor. Drazan garners more support from her own party than Kotek does: 68.2% of Republicans supported Drazan, while 57% of Democrats supported Kotek. Drazan garnered more support from Independents as well: 19.1% of independents backed Drazan, while 14.7% backed Kotek. Johnson siphoned off a significant chunk of voters from both parties, but took more votes away from Kotek than Drazan: 18.4% of Democrats backed Johnson, compared to just 13.9% of Republicans.
The poll also presented some findings that may spell trouble for Democrats in other races in the state in 2022. A plurality of the voters surveyed, 40.1%, identified as Democrats, while 33.5% identified as Republicans, and 26.4% identified as Independents or non-affiliated voters. Despite those margins, Drazan maintains the edge, and Republicans also hold a 1-point advantage in the generic ballot, 40.0%-39.0%.
Republicans also hold a slight advantage in voters who are more likely to vote for them in November: 31.2% of respondents said they were “strongly” likely to vote for a Democratic candidate in the general election, while 35.9% of respondents were strongly likely to vote for a Republican. Republicans also held a strong advantage among Independents, the poll found.
In the generic ballot, Independents favored Republicans by a nearly 10-point margin, 33.1%-23.6%. Among voters who were “strongly likely” to support a party, Republicans held an even bigger advantage: 25.7% of Independents said they were “strongly likely” to support a Republican candidate, while just 14% said they were “strongly likely” to back a Democrat.
Drazan is basing her campaign on fixing the issues brought on by Democratic leadership, including outgoing governor Kate Brown, as well as Kotek. Drazan’s priority issues include reversing Brown’s COVID-19 mandates, as well as addressing the ongoing crises of crime and homelessness in the Beaver State. She also lists education, election integrity, the cost of living, gun rights, and pro-life as other key issues on her website.
Oregon has not elected a Republican governor since 1982, but recent political trends might favor Republicans in 2022. Kate Brown won a special election in 2016 by just 7.2 points, then won election to a full term in 2018 by just 6.4 points. President Joe Biden’s approval rating is underwater by 5 points, 46% disapprove-41% approve, according to Civiqs.
On top of that, the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman notes that, at least at the Congressional level, “the political environment has deteriorated for Democrats” so much that “no Democrat in a single-digit Biden (or Trump-won) district is secure, and even some seats Biden carried by double-digit margins in 2020 could come into play this fall.”