Writings and observations

1st poll in the 1st, but …

The first polling – the first to go public at least – in the Oregon 1st district Democratic contest, is out. It indicates a massive lead for state Senator Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton. (It apparently was not done specifically for a candidate but for Emily’s List, which is backing Bonamici.) From the National Journal today:

The first poll in the race, obtained from a Democratic source, shows Bonamici with a 24-point lead over her two closest opponents. Bonamici takes 34 percent of the vote, while state Rep. Brad Witt registers at 10 percent. Oregon state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is in single digits with 8 percent.

When the candidates’ biographies are listed, Bonamici’s lead widens to 29 points, and she has the highest favorability of all the candidates. Bonamici, a former consumer protection attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, is the only candidate currently on TV. … The poll was conducted by Grove Insight for EMILY’s List from September 26-28, and surveyed 400 likely Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

If the poll is an accurate reflection of the electorate, then the primary is as good as done. But is it?

Bonamici is a strong candidate. If she wins the primary, that would be no great shock. Her two opponents are more in the line of dividing a common base of core support (labor and related interests), and she’s one woman running against two men – not a bad structural advantage. And her campaign looks plenty strong. A poll showing her in the lead would not be surprising.

These poll numbers, though, suggest not just a lead but a massive blowout. Avakian has held statewide office and been on the ballot statewide. He was in the race two months longer than Bonamici – about twice as long – and his political history in Washington County goes back further than hers. He has been, on balance, no more controversial than Bonamici. (Supporters of each would argue about the merits of the issues bedeviling each, but as negatives they come close to a wash.) As to matters of issue and ideology, they have some distinctions but are not terribly far apart; both has been mainstream Democratic caucus members in Salem. Bonamici has been on the air with one commercial, a good one but not a rock-your-world kind of message, not enough to massive shake up the district.

So a poll showing her not just in the lead but with 34% and him with 8% (and the third candidate, state Representative Brad Witt, at 10%) has some ‘splainin’ to do.

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