KGW Poll: Measure 97 too close to call
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Democrats Hillary Clinton and Kate Brown have strong leads in Oregon in their respective races for president and governor, but the race over the corporate tax known as Measure 97 is in a virtual tie with less than a month until Election Day.
The numbers are according to a new poll conducted for KGW and The Oregonian/OregonLive by Portland-based pollster Riley Research Associates.
Measure 97 is the closest of all the races KGW and The Oregonian/OregonLive surveyed, with 47 percent of people saying they oppose the corporate tax and 46 percent of people saying they support it. Just seven percent of people say they are still undecided.
In the presidential race, Hillary Clinton enjoys a ten-point lead in Oregon. Among likely voters, 46 percent of people say they support Clinton, compared to 36 percent for Trump.
Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are both at five percent.
Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, has a comfortable lead over her Republican rival Bud Pierce. Brown leads with 48 percent, compared to 34 percent for Pierce.
The poll also looked at the Oregon Secretary of State’s race. Those results will be released on Friday.
Riley Research surveyed 608 likely voters across the state. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
Explore each poll question in more depth:
Clinton enjoys significantly stronger support among women than does Donald Trump. Fifty-three percent of women say they’ll vote for Clinton, compared to just 30 percent for Trump. Trump has a slight lead among men.
Poll results were collected both before and after the release of the Access Hollywood tapes where Trump made sexually aggressive remarks about women.
Trump fell six percentage points in Oregon between the start of the poll on Oct. 4 and the conclusion on Oct. 14. The tape was released on October 7.
Even though Trump has fewer overall voters in Oregon, his base seems to be more excited about his candidacy than Clinton’s. Sixty-two percent of Trump supporters said their vote is because they support him, as opposed to 35 percent who said they are voting against Clinton.
Among Clinton supporters, 55 percent are voting in support of her, compared to 43 percent who said they are simply voting against Trump. One-third of Clinton’s supporters said their top deciding factor was her political experience; one-quarter of her supporters described Clinton as the lessor of two evils.
Clinton’s comfortable lead in Oregon lines up with the voter registration split. For comparison, Barack Obama won Oregon by 12 points in 2012 and by about 16 points in 2008.
Nationally, Clinton has a 6.9 point lead over Trump, according to the latest Real Clear Politics polling average.
We spoke with two voters included in the poll who have very different perspectives on the presidential race. Both are the same age and both live in the Portland metro area.
Eli Fabens, 27, is a software engineer who works in downtown Portland and lives in Sellwood. He actively follows politics and says he hasn’t missed an election since he turned 18. We caught him on the phone as he was riding his bike during the evening commute one night.
Fabens is voting for Clinton, even though he admits she has had her ups and downs. But at the end of the day, Fabens thinks that Clinton cares about the country and genuinely wants to make our lives better.
He is more forceful when talking about Trump.
“I think he wants to destroy our democracy,” Fabens said.
Fabens said he’d vote for just about anyone instead of Trump.
“The last debate made me sick and this one will probably make me sick, but I feel it’s my duty as a citizen to pay attention,” he said.
Jason Eaton, 27, lives in Aloha and runs maintenance operations for an apartment complex. He said he didn’t pay much attention to politics when he was younger, but prides himself on being more engaged now that he is a bit older.
He supports Trump, despite the Access Hollywood tape and a string of allegations from women accusing the candidate of sexual assault.
“Yes, it’s definitely offensive, but that was 11 years ago and we have serious, bigger issues going on in this world,” Eaton said about the tape where Trump bragged about groping women. “This was brought up just to be a problem for his campaign.”
Eaton’s top issue at the federal level? The growing influence of Russia.
“That should be talked about more,” he said.
On a local level, his main concerns relate more directly to life. He lamented the fact that the state’s education system does a poor job of preparing students for technical jobs like construction and maintenance.
He is also upset about how the state handles people with mental health issues. His fiancée works as a nurse and Eaton said she sees first-hand how the system fails people with mental health problems.
Measure 97 will likely come down to the wire. It is failing by just one point in the poll, with only seven percent of people undecided.
Pollsters would consider a race this close to essentially be a tie.
Measure 97 would impose a tax for certain companies in Oregon on revenues over $25 million. It would raise billions of dollars for the state coffers. Supporters argue the tax gets big corporations to pay their fair share in Oregon, but opponents say it’s a stealth sales tax and will passed along to consumers.
Supporters and opponents combined have raised $30 million in this race, much of which has been spent on a barrage of advertising. The “no” campaign has raised about $18 million, while the “yes” side has combined for about $12 million.
Turnout among young voters could tilt the race, according to pollster Mike Riley. Support for the tax erodes as voters get older. About a third of voters age 18-34 oppose the measure, compared to 60 percent of voters older than 65 who oppose it.
The measure also enjoys considerably more support in the Portland area, compared to other regions of the state. Fifty-nine percent of metro area voters support it, compared to just 33 percent in the Willamette Valley, 28 percent on the coast and 37 percent in Central Oregon.
The success or failure of Measure 97 could come down to voters like Leslie Koster of Sherwood. The retired nurse is a life-long Republican, but said she isn’t afraid to break from the party if she believes in a cause.
Koster told our pollster that she plans to vote for the measure, but in a follow-up interview said she goes back and forth on the issue.
“I don’t like raising taxes, but sometimes taxes have to be raised,” she said.
Koster explained that she feels we need to do something to fix the bad situation with Oregon’s roads and schools.
“I totally believe in education for the kids and that we need to get our infrastructure taken care of,” she said.
If Koster is the voter the Yes on 97 campaign has to win over, Tom Grissom is the voter they worry about.
Grissom supports Democrats Hillary Clinton and Kate Brown but is strongly against Measure 97.
“I think that you should tax on profits, not on gross,” Grissom. He thinks the proposed tax is unfair to businesses with smaller profit margins.
Grissom also worries that the tax will be sucked up to pay for PERS and won’t end up funding education.
He doesn’t work for a company that will be affected by the tax. He said he made up his mind from the moment he first read about the idea and hasn’t been swayed by the flood of television ads.
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has a significant lead over her Republican challenger Dr. Bud Pierce, according to our poll. Forty-eight percent of voters say they’ll go for Brown, compared to 34 percent for Pierce.
The majority of voters who had made a decision feel strongly about their choice. Most said they are “very likely” to stick with their candidate.
Candidates from other parties polled between one and two percent. Thirteen percent of voters said they are still undecided.
Riley said that name recognition likely plays a major role in this race.
“Bud Pierce has never run a campaign, he’s never done a statewide race, he’s never run a local race. It’s awfully hard to come out of nowhere, even if you’re a good person, have good character,” Riley said.
He said people don’t generally pay very close attention to a race like this, making it even tougher for Pierce to sell his candidacy to voters.
Pierce’s support in the primary closely mirrored Trump’s, which helped Pierce defeat Allen Alley. Even though Pierce has since condemned Trump and his actions, his base of voters still mirrors the Republican presidential candidate.
“It’s going to be a tough, uphill battle for Bud Pierce to the end,” Riley said.
Half of Oregon voters in our poll say that the state is on the right track, compared to 41 percent who say we’re on the wrong track.
The strong “right track” number bodes well for incumbent governor Kate Brown.
“If you think we’re on the right track, that the Democrats have done a good job, why wouldn’t you support the incumbent Democrat?” Riley said.
Digging deeper into this question shows a stark contract between older and younger voters. Among 18-44 years old, 60 percent of people say we’re on the right track; only 39 percent of people older than 65 think the same thing.
“That kind of reinforces the notion, at least in the Portland area, that young people come here to retire, that it’s not a bad place to live,” Riley said. “It may not have the best economy, but young people like it here.”
There is a stark party split with this question. Among Democrats, 74 percent of people think we’re on the right track. Only 18 percent of Republicans agree with that.
Attitudes also vary depending on where you live. In Portland 58 percent of people said we’re on the right track. About half of people in Southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley agreed.
But as you move east, the outlook grows more negative. In Central Oregon, 37 people percent of people said we’re on the right track. Eastern Oregon had the lowest rate of any region in the state; only 22 percent of people think we’re on the right track.