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Oregon: DSCC Touts Senate Poll but Won’t Show All Data

A poll conducted recently for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee found Sen. Gordon Smith’s (R) electability numbers to be down from earlier this year.

But the DSCC declined to release any head-to-head numbers pitting Smith against his potential Democratic opponents, suggesting that the Republican might still be in good shape heading into his quest for a third term — at least at this point.

A poll conducted late last month for Roll Call showed Smith with a 9-point lead over Oregon Speaker Jeff Merkley, the favorite of national Democratic leaders for the Senate nomination. Merkley is battling attorney and Democratic activist Steve Novick in the primary. Neither has come remotely close to matching Smith’s fundraising numbers, which include a healthy $4 million on hand as of Sept. 30.

The DSCC poll, conducted by the Portland-based Democratic firm Grove Insight, found that Smith’s job approval rating among likely voters had plummeted from 46 percent in February to 33 percent last month, with a full 49 percent disapproving of his performance in office.

According to the survey’s results, only 30 percent of Oregonians say they will vote to re-elect Smith, with 41 percent saying they will vote for or consider someone else.

“Smith’s numbers are suffering even among his partisans,” according to the poll memo prepared by Lisa Grove and Ben Patinkin. “Nearly half of Republicans — 45 percent — are willing to consider someone else or are undecided, and an additional 10 percent say they will vote to replace him.”

“As with his job performance ratings,” the poll memo continued, “his problems aren’t limited to this one subgroup. Over half of Independents say they would consider voting for someone else or are undecided. In fact, Smith fails to garner a majority of support from any major subgroup.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee didn’t seem to be alarmed by the poll’s findings.

“Gordon Smith has proven himself to be a champion for the people of Oregon and we are confident that at the end of the day Oregon voters will re-elect Sen. Smith to carry on his years of hard work and dedication,” NRSC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said.

The DSCC’s poll of 500 likely voters was conducted Oct. 12-16, and had a margin of error of 4.4 points. The error margin for the subsamples was higher in some cases.

— David M. Drucker