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Kitzhaber, Merkley Retain Double-Digit Leads

The word "corruption" and Oregon politics don't usually go together and GOP gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson's efforts to couple them haven't appeared to narrow Governor John Kitzhaber's double-digit lead.

Survey USA conducted a statewide poll for KATU-TV that shows Kitzhaber clinging to a 51 percent to 38 percent lead over Richardson, with only 6 percent of the electorate still undecided. The survey was conducted between October 16-19 with 561 likely voters, interviewed by both landline and cell phones.

If only men voted, the race would be tighter, as Kitzhaber holds a narrow 48 percent to 46 percent lead. But the governor seeking an unprecedented fourth term wallops Richardson among women voters by 54 percent to 30 percent.

Kitzhaber tops Richardson in the 18-34, 50-64 and 65+ categories and ties him at 45 percent each in the 35-49 cohort.

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Handicapping Oregon's Ballot Measures

Oregon mail-in ballots will begin to arrive any day, so it's timely for voters to get the equivalent of a horserace handicap on some of the measures they will decide November 4.

Oregon Public Broadcasting shared results of recent statewide polling on four ballot measures, which shows two of them have tenuous leads, one is an election-day longshot and the other is, as they say in politics, a "dog that won't hunt."

The measures with the best poll numbers at this important pre-vote moment are the ones to legalize marijuana and require labeling for genetically modified foods. The measures that have underwater polling numbers would allow Oregonians who can't document their legal residence to obtain a driver card and permit state bonding for college scholarships.

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Selfie Generation Tunes in Brand Journalism

Online brand journalism is connecting with the selfie generation. Millennials view branded content as part of the creative mix online they talk about and share.

These conclusions flow from an online study, “Hashtag Nation: Marketing to the Selfie Generation.” It was commissioned by integrated marketing agency Havas Worldwide and based on 10,574 responses from people between the ages of 16 and 29 in 30 countries.

For marketers, the good news is that young people don't disdain brands, but instead invite them into their online social circle. "Nearly half of all young respondents characterize brands as “essential” to them — compared with just a quarter of those aged 55+," according to Havas Worldwide. But a word of warning to marketers: 4 in 10 respondents aged 16‒34 say brands don’t take young people seriously enough.

Survey results suggest younger people think of many brands as part of pop culture. "Far more than older generations," says Havas Worldwide, "young people say pop culture has helped to form their personalities (51 percent) and attitudes (50 percent)."

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Big Data and Little Kids

Children are the latest data-mining targets as software track student progress, learning skills, behaviors and even where they sit in the classroom and at lunch.

The data is viewed as necessary for an assessment-driven analysis of student and school performance. But since much of the information collected could leak into the hands of non-educators, it could become a treasure trove for companies seeking to gain a better understanding of their target market. 

Marketplace Tech, a segment on NPR, is running a series of reports this week on what it calls the "Quantified Student."

"From the time they get on the school bus, until they close their laptops at night, there’s a good chance data are being collected on their whereabouts, their learning patterns, their classroom behavior, what they eat for lunch, the websites they browse on their school computers, and maybe even the amount of sleep they get," reports Adriene Hill.

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Poll Numbers Buoy Military Intervention

For a nation weary of war and wary of the Middle East, the swing in poll numbers supporting U.S. military action against Islamic radicals in Iraq and Syria is nothing short of remarkable.

As President Obama addresses the nation, a new poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News indicates 61 percent of Americans favor confronting the Islamic state. A third of respondents approved of both airstrikes and ground troops to degrade and destroy the radical group that has swept through and captured large chunks of Iraq and a portion of Syria. A year ago, only 21 percent of Americans supported U.S. military action in the Middle East.

The videotaped beheading of two U.S. journalists has played a role in reversing American attitudes to support a more aggressive posture, which presumably wasn't what the radicals had in mind. The WSJ/NBC News poll was conducted just after the beheadings.

The swing in attitude toward the radicals gives Obama a chance to revive his sagging 32 percent approval rating on his handling of national defense and foreign policy issues. It also gives him more latitude in selecting a strategy.

Ironically, Obama may have newfound GOP support for counterterrorism. In a meeting with Obama, Republican House Speaker John Boehner expressed support for training and equipping Iraqi security forces and Syrian rebels and for sending U.S. troops back into the region if the mission was to eliminate the radicals.

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