OR-GOV: Swing State Project moves Kitzhaber/Dudley race to "tossup"

Carla Axtman

"Swing State Project moved OR-Gov to Tossup largely on the basis of polling showing, almost without exception, a race within a point or two either direction."

One of the reliably good progressive blogs doing "horse race" political blogging is Swing State Project. What's more, they're very, very good at predicting races. Last week, the boys at SSP made a whole slew of adjustments to their general election prognostications and if their look at the Oregon Governor's race is right, Team Kitzhaber had better step it up. They've moved the race from "Leans D" to "Tossup".

I bumped into DavidNYC, JamesL and Crisitunity during last week's Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas. Crisitunity is the blogger who generally covers the Pacific Northwest. He talked with me about the team's decision to bump the race over.

"Swing State Project moved OR-Gov to Tossup largely on the basis of polling showing, almost without exception, a race within a point or two either direction," said Crisitunity. "That's primarily the prolific Rasmussen (whose reputation precedes them), and a few other pollsters we're leery of (openly Republican pollster Magellan, and SurveyUSA), but also Tim Hibbitts, who has a sterling reputation in Oregon. Even if the intangibles seem to support a Kitzhaber victory -- Oregon's Democratic lean, its long track record of electing Democratic governors, and the difference in candidate quality and gravitas -- the difficult nature of the year and the potential for Dudley to outspend Kitzhaber mean it can't be taken for granted and Kitzhaber could just as easily lose as win."

Crisitunity went on to say that they're "alarmed" by chatter they're hearing that Kitzhaber seems to be coasting on his well-earned reputation. They believe Kitz may also be viewing the race through an "outdated prism of bipartisanship and amicable problem-solving". Swing State is concerned that the former Governor is waiting for the inevitable need to throw some punches and define Dudley instead of trying to somehow "transcend politicking as usual."

Crisitunity also said that this race reminds him of a mini-version of California, where there's also a semi-legendary, successful former Governor trying for a repeat, but trying to stay above the fray. This is unwise against a Republican candidate who's saying nothing, hiding behind a lot of expensive ads and vague platitudes, and who's counting on that amorphousness to get over the top in a blue state. The Republican opposition needs to be given some form, before it's too late.

When I asked for a response from the Kitzhaber folks to Swing State's change in the race, new spokesperson Jillian Schoene said, "The numbers are not surprising; they have spent a lot of money buying TV time for a celebrity candidate who sticks to his talking points. But Oregonians are going too see through that pretty quickly."


But given that Dudley is heavily outraising Kitzhaber right now, I'm wondering how Oregonians are going to see through a message that's essentially going uncountered, even if it is a bunch of empty platitudes and vague bullshitting.

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    not sure where "chatter" is coming from, but i live a few blocks from Kitz hq, and everytime i've gone in, there've been people hard at work. i get weekly calls asking me to canvas or otherwise participate. Kitz may be coasting, or even paying attention to his other jobs, but the team isn't. and at this time of year, the grassroots work of volunteers is what sets the groundwork for the real campaign season. apparently in their models, SSP hasn't figured that part out yet.

    and on top of everything else, Duds hasn't had to open his mouth & reveal how little he knows. remember how the Merkley-Smith race seemed to shift after the debate when Merkley handled Gordo so well. Duds is living on borrowed time.

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    Sooner or later, Dudley is going to have to explain himself beyond platitudes and rhetoric, although I'll grant that a lot of people are happy with just that.

    He's already proposed to eliminate the OLCC and put a fee on liquor sales.

    We're going to want to know how big that fee is going to be in actual dollars, and note that those liquor retailers that the Dudley team wants to put out of business are small businesses located in every community across the state.

    Let's have the details of the actual plan, starting small with a small agency and a small number of people that Dudley wants to put out of work.

    Then we can work on the big problems like education, corrections and putting grandma out on the ice floe.

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      I sincerely doubt a proposal to eliminate an outdated byproduct of prohibition like the OLCC will prove to be unpopular by any means. I can't think of one person I know who doesn't want to eliminate the OLCC.

      If Initiative 1100 passes in Washington it will do more to drive liquor stores in Portland out of business than eliminating the OLCC.

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    Dudley also doesn't want to do anything about the Kicker which costs the state money in real dollars to process and send out every time. And he is "open" to offshore oil drilling and refuses to ban it, this said even after the Gulf tragedy. This neophyte is downright dangerous.

    There is a lot of grist for Kitz's mill here. http://www.theskanner.com/article/view/id/12916 Dudley is clueless and Kitz needs to make hay with it. Starting right now.

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      I have 16 smart cats and they all are for Kitz. Dudley only cares about the rich fat cats' profits, not the people of Oregon like Governor Kitzhauber does.

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    The point is missed that Kitz is an incumbant in all but name. He MUST run against his own past and Dudley can sit out and watch. In this election cycle incumbants are at a disadvantage. Incumbants who left town in a petulant pout are even more disadvantaged.

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    Dudley seems full of empty platitudes and if anyone is trying to coast it's him.

    I agree with him on opposing use of lottery profits for the waste of $$ MAX line to Milwaukie while bus service is gutted.

    But one issue doesn't get my vote.

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