Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos. 10/16-17. Likely voters. MoE 2.8% (No trend lines)
Chris Dudley (R) 47
John Kitzhaber (D) 48
Obama is coming to Oregon tomorrow, and it's not a moment too soon. Former governor and current Democratic candidate John Kitzhaber has the endorsement of just about every major newspaper in the state, and he dominated the debate the two will held in front of a statewide television audience, in what will probaby be the only televised debate of the race.
The problem for Kitzhaber is a slow start and reluctance to define Dudley from the beginning, thus Dudley has been able to define himself. He's only known for his past history as a Portland Trailblazer, joining when the team was still in it's glory days and hugely popular. His lack of ability to move "beyond the hi-lighted talking points" as one analyst described him in the debate, doesn't seem to bother voters this cycle. He's nearly as popular as the former governor, with a favorable rating just one point below Kitzhaber's. For this cycle, Kitzhaber's 49% favorable isn't bad, but he has to drive down Dudley's numbers in the next two weeks.
The other, serious, problem Kitzhaber faces in this race is a familiar one--the enthusiasm gap. PPP's Tom Jensen notes that this "is definitely a state where if not for the enthusiasm gap Kitzhaber would be headed for a comfortable victory. 2008 turnout would put him ahead 51-42." Obama won the state, 57-40. That's not just reflected in the polling, voter registration for Democrats is significantly down in the state from 2008.
The race has been essentially tied since early last summer, and the two most recent polls besides PPP, SUSA (Kitzhaber 46, Dudley 45) and Rasumussen (Kitzhaber 48, Dudley 46) all peg this race as too close to call.
Obama's visit is hopefully well-timed. The ballots in Oregon's all mail-in election hit doorsteps over the weekend and early this week, so hopefully Obama's presence will energize Dems enough to get them to sit down, fill out their ballots, and get them in the mail. It doesn't take a great deal of enthusiasm for Oregon voters, since they don't actually have to go to the polls. They just need to find a stamp.