Political analysts are starting to shift their projections for the Oregon governor’s race, signaling a potential Republican gubernatorial win in the state for the first time in 40 years.
Cook Political Report recently shifted its rating for Oregon from “Likely Democrat to Lean Democrat,” pointing to the three candidates involved in the race as a primary reason. The site noted that if a third-party candidate, in this case, unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson, a longtime moderate state senator, is “well-funded,” this can give the minority party a chance to see success.
Political analysis site FiveThirtyEight also shows Oregon as a “lean D” state for the governor’s race, giving former Oregon House Minority Leader Republican Christine Drazan a 31% chance of victory as of Wednesday.
The Cook report discussed the recent non-partisan poll by Nelson Research, which was conducted in late May and revealed that Drazan was in the lead with nearly 30% of likely voters saying they would elect her. Democratic candidate and former speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Tina Kotek received around 27.5% support in the poll, and Johnson received around 19.4%.
“Our momentum is unmistakable, Christine Drazan is ready to flip Oregon this November,” John Burke, Drazan’s communications director, told The Daily Wire in a statement. “Oregonians from all walks of life are stepping up and calling for change. Unlike Tina Kotek and Betsy Johnson, Christine is ready to deliver for them.”
A poll paid for by Johnson’s campaign showed Kotek in the lead, Johnson coming in second, and Drazan in last place. Another poll, funded by Republicans, showed Drazan at 32.4% and Kotek at 31.4%.
Dr. Jim Moore is a psephologist — who studies voters’ habits in elections — and professor at Pacific University in Oregon. Moore told The Daily Wire via email that polling has revealed “a three-way race” since the primary election.
“Cook, which is good on polls but not that good on history and context in individual states, is right to move the race into a more competitive category,” Moore added, saying the race is still Kotek’s to lose. While Democrats don’t win by landslides in the state, he said, “Republicans have a real hard time getting more than 40–45% of the vote.”
While Oregon’s gubernatorial bid does include a third-party candidate and other factors, the state is also experiencing much of the political distress of the rest of the country, The New York Times pointed out last month.
A DHM Research poll from May showed that a mere 8% of voters said Portland, Oregon, was going in the right direction. Before the pandemic, that number was at 38%. The area is very liberal. In the last presidential election, 79.2% of the people in Portland’s Multnomah County, Oregon, voted Democrat.