Poll says governor's race a squeaker
The governor's race between Democratic incumbent Kate Brown and GOP candidate Rep. Knute Buehler remains hair-raisingly close, according to a new poll by Clout Research.
The phone poll of 679 likely voters between Sept. 20 and 23 shows that 41.7 percent would choose Brown, while 40.8 percent would vote for Buehler. The results have a 3.76 percent margin of error, according to Clout, a Columbus, Ohio, national opinion research firm. The poll was commissioned by Leona Consulting Co., an Oregon conservative political and public affairs firm.
The new poll is a follow-up to a poll of likely voters released Aug. 1. That survey, also conducted by Clout and commissioned by Leona, showed that in a head-to-head contest between Brown and Buehler, he would win with 43 percent, Brown would receive 42 percent and the other 15 percent of respondents were undecided.
"The results haven't changed much at all," said Lindsay Berschauer of Leona. It's "still considered a toss-up and still within the margin of error."
"Both Brown and Buehler win the support of about four of every five voters in their respective parties, but independent and non-aligned voters tilt heavily toward Buehler," said Fritz Wenzel, founder of Clout Research. "He wins 48 percent support among independents, compared to just 23 percent of indies who support Brown – a remarkable show of strength for the challenger that mitigates the voter registration advantage that Democrats enjoy in Oregon."
Another survey of 770 registered voters July 16 and 17 by Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm that has been repeatedly scrutinized by FiveThirtyEight.com, the Washington Post and others for inaccurate results, showed Brown and Buehler tied at 45 percent.
Clout receives a "C" grade from Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com and calls races correctly only about 50 percent of the time, according to that organization's pollster ratings.
Clout Research accurately projected Dennis Richardson's victory in his election as Oregon secretary of state against Democrat Brad Avakian in 2016. Its polling showed Richardson winning with 41 percent of the vote, while Avakian received 35.7 percent. Richardson won the race with 47.4 percent to Avakian's 43. 2 percent.
But in another poll in 2016, Clout projected a tie between GOP candidate Bud Pierce and Brown in that year's race for governor. In fact, Brown comfortably won with more than 50 percent of the vote, while Pierce garnered 43 percent.
Democrats generally have won Oregon governor races by single-digit percentage points. In 2014, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber won with 49.8 percent of the vote and Richardson received 44.1 percent.