TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Salem doctor Bud Pierce is tied with Gov. Kate Brown, according to a new poll by an Ohio firm.Democrat Gov. Kate Brown and Republican Bud Pierce are nearly tied in the race for the state’s chief executive, according to new poll results released Wednesday, July 27.

The poll by Clout Research, a right-leaning firm based in Columbus, Ohio, found Brown holds a lead of 43.4 percent over Pierce’s 42 percent. The margin of error is 3.71 percentage points.

“What we are seeing in the race for governor is the same as the race for president,” said Fritz Wenzel, pollster and owner of Clout Research. “Voters across the country are dissatisfied with the status quo.”

Pierce’s surge in support comes mostly from independent voters. About 41 percent of independent respondents favor Pierce, while 29 percent support Brown, according to the poll.

“The tsunami in Oregon right now is where independents are heavily supporting Trump and Pierce,” Wenzel said.

Pierce, a Salem oncologist, said the results don’t surprise him. “I think voters like my message of being open and transparent with them,” Pierce said. “Since the primary election I’ve been out in many Oregon communities spreading the word about what I would do to improve Oregon, if elected governor. Kate Brown has basically been an invisible candidate, not attending debates or answering tough questions. The governor has only been accessible to insiders and lobbyists. I’ve tried to make myself accessible to the people and the media.”

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - A new poll says Gov. Kate Brown is tied with Republican Bud Pierce in their campaign for the governor's office.Brown’s campaign was not immediately available to comment on the poll Wednesday. Brown and her campaign director are attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week.

About 700 voters responded to the telephone poll, which was conducted July 9 to 13. The national polling company serves mostly Republican clients, but no one commissioned this poll, Wenzel said. The pollster said he conducted the poll to satisfy his own interest in Oregon politics. Wenzel is originally from Southeast Portland.

The poll also found that support for a corporate sales tax measure, known as Initiative Petition 28 or Measure 97, is eroding. About 39 percent of respondents favor the measure, compared with 44 percent in early May, Wenzel said.

The nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office has said the 2.5 percent tax on certain corporate sales exceeding $25 million would act as a consumption tax. The tax would cost the average family in excess of $600 per year in higher prices.

“There has always been more people supportive of the measure than opposed to it, but as people learn more about the measure and who would pay the new taxes, the support appears to be dwindling,” Wenzel said. “Anytime a measures falls below 40 percent support, it is in dangerous waters.”

Our Oregon, the nonprofit behind the corporate sales tax campaign, dismissed the poll as biased. "This is a poll conducted by a consistently wrong, right leaning group," said Katherine Driessen, Our Oregon spokeswoman. "That's clear based on their inaccurate results throughout the poll. Every single finding in this poll is without credibility."

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, which rates pollsters on their accuracy, gave Clout a grade of C-. The publication stated that Clout calls races correctly about 33 percent of the time.

By Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau Reporter
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