A poll out this week shows Democratic state treasurer candidate Ben Westlund has opened up a double-digit lead over Republican rival Allen Alley, but there's less there than meets the eye.
The telephone survey of 500 registered voters around the state, done for the Portland Tribune and Fox 12 News by the nonpartisan firm of Davis, Hibbits & Midghall Inc., shows Westlund with a 12-point lead, 34% to 22%. The catch is that a huge number of voters - 40% - remain undecided.
The poll showed a similar situation in the race for Oregon secretary of state between Democrat Kate Brown and Republican Rick Dancer, with Brown at 33%, Dancer at 25%, and 38% undecided.
According to the Portland Tribune, pollster Tim Hibbitts said the Democrats' lead is mainly due to the Democratic registration edge in the state.
"What this means is the Republicans have to play catch-up," he said. "You've got to get a disproportionate number of the undecideds to win."
In the presidential race, the poll shows Democrat Barack Obama with a solid 10-point lead over Republican John McCain, 50% to 40%. "I do not believe that Oregon is going to be a battleground state this year," Hibbitts commented. "This is probably as good as it's going to get for the Republicans, this general range, unless Obama's campaign implodes. Obama's been ahead all summer, and has captivated Oregonians to a degree."