Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Canby State Representative Christine Drazan holds a two-point lead over her Democratic rival, according to a new, nonpartisan poll released this week.
The new survey by Emerson College Polling found that 36% of respondents backed Drazan, who served as House minority leader before stepping down this January to focus on her gubernatorial bid, while 34% supported Democratic nominee and former House Speaker Tina Kotek.
Drazan has consistently, though narrowly, led Kotek in a number of polls. Her path to potential victory in a state where registered Republicans are a distinct minority and the GOP has not won the governor’s office in 40 years is largely thanks to this year’s unique, three-way race.
Joining Drazan and Kotek in the fray is dark horse candidate Betsy Johnson, a longtime conservative Democratic state lawmaker who is running as an independent. Johnson garnered 19% support in Emerson’s poll.
An additional 9% of respondents said they were still undecided. The poll was based on 796 respondents and carried an estimated margin of error of 3.4%.
The survey’s favorability ratings also brought good news for the Drazan campaign, finding that slightly more respondents had a favorable opinion of her, with 42% viewing her favorably and 41% unfavorably.
Meanwhile, 50% of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of Kotek, while 38% viewed her favorably.
More than half of respondents (52%) said the economy was their biggest motivator in planning to vote for Drazan, while nearly 60% of Kotek supporters said they trusted her most on the issue of threats to democracy in the United States.
The poll comes after a Cook Political Report last month shifted the state’s gubernatorial race toward Republicans, moving it from the “lean Democrat” rating to a “toss-up.” Polling aggregation website FiveThirthyEight also rates the race a “toss-up.”
And, later this week, news broke that Nike co-founder and Oregon’s richest man Phil Knight had officially defected from the struggling Johnson campaign in favor of Drazan, writing a $1 million check to the 50-year-old Republican.
Knight had previously contributed $3.75 million to help prop up Johnson’s attempt to become the state’s first unaffiliated governor in nearly a century. That figure was historic in its own right: amounting to the most an individual donor has ever contributed to a politician in Oregon.
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