Nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson, Democrat Tina Kotek and Republican Christine Drazan sparred over guns, abortion, education and drug policy during a debate at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Screenshot)
Republican Christine Drazan and Democrat Tina Kotek are in a neck-and-neck race for Oregon governor with just over five weeks to go until Election Day, according to a new poll.
The poll of 620 likely voters from Salem-based Nelson Research showed 33.4% would most likely vote for Drazan, 31.5% for Kotek and 19.2% for nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson. There was a margin of error of 3.9%, leaving Drazan and Kotek in a statistical tie.
The results mirrored a poll conducted for The Oregonian/OregonLive late last week that also showed Drazan and Kotek in a dead heat. With the exception of a poll paid for by Johnson’s campaign, every poll since June has shown Kotek and Drazan in a tight race with Johnson a distant third.
Associated General Contractors Oregon-Columbia Chapter, a trade association for the construction agency, paid for the Nelson Research poll. The association primarily backs Republican candidates, and it has given $100,000 apiece to Johnson and Drazan this year, according to state campaign finance records.
Like a previous poll from Nelson Research, the new survey included a slightly higher share of Republican voters and lower share of Democratic voters than voted in recent midterms.Democrats made up 42% of the electorate in 2018 and Republicans 30%, while 40% of poll respondents identified as Democrats and 32% as Republicans.
Close poll numbers have brought more national attention, and money, to Oregon. Following the release of the two polls this week, the political forecasting site FiveThirtyEight reclassified Oregon as one of only two toss-up gubernatorial races in the country, though it still estimates Kotek will win in 56 out of 100 scenarios. She had seven-in-10 odds of winning earlier this month under the same model. Political forecasters at the Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics also deemed the race a tossup earlier this summer.
Ballots will be sent to voters beginning Oct. 19, and they must be postmarked or returned to a drop site by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.
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