Oregon Gov. Kate Brown holds a narrow lead of 3 percentage points over Republican challenger Knute Buehler in a new independent poll conducted by a Portland firm.
Hoffman Research Group found that Brown is ahead 45 percent to 42 percent for Buehler, a state representative from Bend. She also leads by 6 percentage points among those who said they have already voted.
Overall, the survey paints a similar picture to the last three public polls conducted in the heated governor’s race. All of them showed a 5-point lead for Brown.
The latest poll was of 694 likely voters and conducted by telephone on Monday and Tuesday, a week before the election. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.
Hoffman Research is owned by Tim Nashif, a Portland businessman who has been active in Republican politics. He regularly conducts polls, including this one, that he says are independent of his partisan activities.
Nashif said Brown is benefitting from Oregon’s strong Democratic registration edge. Democrats have won the last nine elections for governor.
“The only thing I see that has going for him is her high negative ratings,” Nashif said.
His poll found that 43 percent rated the governor unfavorably while 41 percent were favorable.
In contrast, 37 percent gave Buehler positive marks while 33 percent viewed him unfavorably. Another 30 percent said they had no impression of him or had never heard of him.
Nashif questioned the significance of Brown’s stronger support among people who have already voted. He noted that in past elections, Republican-leaning voters have been slower to turn in their ballots.
As of Wednesday, records from the Oregon Elections Division show registered Republicans and Democrats returning their ballots in similar percentages.
At this point, Buehler appears to have only a small advantage among third-party and unaffiliated voters. To win, Buehler needs to make bigger inroads among this group, Nashif said.
So far, 7 percent of voters said they were undecided. Another 4 percent said they backed Independent Party nominee Patrick Starnes — who announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing from the race and endorsing Brown.
Nashif noted that Starnes would remain on the ballot, and he predicted his withdrawal would only make a difference if the final outcome was extremely close.
The other poll released this week was from the polling unit at Emerson College in Boston. It showed Brown at 47 percent and Buehler at 42 percent. The poll’s sample included 747 voters and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.