A Race Still Too Close to Call

The campaign for Oregon governor is still a horse race -- some say it's the closest race for governor in the nation. Behind-the-scenes efforts, not polls, will determine whether Dudley or Kitzhaber wins the election. 

A series of polls conducted through mid-September show the race between Chris Dudley, Republican, and John Kitzhaber, Democrat, is razor close. The most recent public poll  shows Dudley leading Kitzhaber 49% to 43%. Others find the race a dead heat.

Six points looks large, but Nate Silver in his FiveThirtyEight Forecasts blog says the race is still too close to call.

There is no doubt we will see a lot more advertisements, some about issues, others slinging mud. But it is the behind-the-scenes campaign activity during the last three weeks before November 2 that will really make the difference.  Those include:

  • Democrats trying to secure their base. Roughly 20% of Democratic voters favor Dudley. The party and its traditional allies, such as organized labor and pro-abortion groups, will work to cut into that support.
  • Democrats running an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign. Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 200,000 voters statewide. Getting Democratic partisans, who aren't as energized as Republicans in this election cycle, to vote will be critical.
  • Republicans targeting Independent voters. Independents favor Dudley over Kitzhaber by more than a two-to-one margin. Defending that spread will be important.
  • How the Portland Metro area votes is the key to the election. According to the SurveyUSA/KATU poll, support is evenly divided between Dudley and Kitzhaber in the Portland area. If this doesn't change, Dudley wins.