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OR: Early-early gov polling

Daily Kos/Research 2000 has out a fairly thorough set of polling on the 2010 Oregon governor’s race, which yet remains far from filling in clear contours. Just two substantial contenders – Democratic former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and Republican businessman Allen Alley – are declared at this point, but there’s little sense that the field on either side is near closed. Alley, for some reason, doesn’t even figure in the polling, maybe because his chances of winning the Republican nomination are not great.

That still leaves the pollsters in the position of polling mostly possibilities rather than actual candidates, which could have some results skewed. Still, there plenty here of interest.

The prospects polled were, on the Democratic side, Bradbury, former Governor John Kitzhaber, Representative Peter DeFazio, and 2008 Senate candidate Steve Novick; and on the Republican side, former Senator Gordon Smith (who may have taken himself out of contention), Representative Greg Walden (who seems likely to have done likewise) and state Senator Jason Atkinson, the one person polled who ran for governor in 2006. (Most frequent guesses seem to run against a DeFazio candidacy too, though that’s more speculative.) President Barack Obama also was polled for favorability.

A few observations.

bullet Obama seems to be far more popular (favorable/unfavorable 62-31, or +31) than any of the Oregonians, and practically everyone had an opinion (just 7% didn’t). The Oregon name who really stuck out in terms of everyone having an opinion was Smith, whose “no opinion” was just 13%; but that’s of no help, since his favorable/unfavorable gap is -9, into unpopular territory, no a good place from which to start a campaign. The two candidates with best standing were Kitzhaber at +20 and DeFazio at +25; the difference probably is more or less erased by Kitzhaber’s larger name familiarity around the state (28% had no opinion of him). Bradbury and Novick were in net positive territory, but the more than half of Oregonians polled had no opinion of them, so they would be virtually building from scratch in campaigning terms. Atkinson’s numbers (+10) were in the Bradbury/Novick range, and Walden’s a little better than that (+11) but a favorable still only at 36%.

bullet In head to heads, Kitzhaber and DeFazio were polling at winning not massively but solidly over all three Republicans. Bradbury was seen as winning but within the margin of error in matchups against Smith or Walden but substantially ahead of Atkinson. Novick was polled as losing to all three Republicans.

Of course, all of this is pre-campaign, and these numbers can and do change once campaigns commence. The high no-opinion factor also matters. Even two-term Governor Kitzhaber (who left office back at the end of 2002) will still have some re-introduction to do, to newcomers and some others. But as this begins, the strongest opening hands likely would be those of Kitzhaber and DeFazio; the next question is whether either of them run.

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