SALEM (AP) — Candidates for offices up and down the ballot are running out of time to win over voters as they enter their final days of campaigning and thousands of ballots are returned every day.
State figures on Tuesday showed one in four registered voters already had returned a ballot. Still, two new polls indicated there were plenty of voters left to be persuaded. The surveys showed a large number of voters were still making up their minds in two of Oregon’s most competitive races — secretary of state and labor commissioner.
Candidates are working overtime to get their supporters to return their ballots, and to entice last-minute voters to take their side.
“Right now we’re working on the blocking and tackling of campaigning, which is turning people out,” said Kevin Curry, a spokesman for Republican secretary of state candidate Knute Buehler.
Buehler has energized Republicans this year with a strong campaign in a low-profile race. The new polls showed an edge for Democratic incumbent Kate Brown, but also a large number of undecided voters.
A survey for The Oregonian found Brown led Buehler 38 percent to 23 percent among likely voters, with 36 percent still undecided. A survey for Oregon Public Broadcasting and KPTV, the Fox affiliate in Portland, pegged Brown’s lead at 43-37 among registered voters, with 15 percent undecided.
Despite trailing in both polls, Curry said Buehler’s campaign viewed the large number of undecided voters with optimism, saying they’re clearly unhappy with the incumbent.
“We imagine a number of polls will be released in the coming days, but none of them will change how we’ll be spending our time between now and Election Day,” said Jillian Schoene, a spokeswoman for Brown’s campaign. “For the next seven days we will be reaching out to voters to make sure they vote to re-elect Kate Brown, the experienced leader we need as our secretary of state.”
The Oregonian poll was conducted by Elway Research Inc., between Oct. 25 and 28. Researchers questioned 405 likely voters, and the survey had a 5 percent margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level. For the OPB-KPTV poll, researchers from Davis Hibbitts & Midghall Inc. surveyed 500 registered voters between Oct. 18 and 20. The poll had a margin of error between 2.6 percent and 4.4 percent.
The Secretary of State’s Office reported 25 percent of voters had returned their ballots — a one-point improvement over the same day in the 2008 cycle.
Republicans and Democrats were running even with 28 percent of ballots returned. Since Democrats outnumber Republicans, however, there were 53,000 more Democratic ballots returned. Seventeen percent of unaffiliated voters had returned ballots.
Nearly 86 percent of registered voters ultimately returned a ballot in each of the last two presidential elections.
Brown has benefited from a late surge in advertising funded by $290,000 from unions and a top Democratic donor. Buehler responded with a $150,000 loan to his campaign, bringing his total contribution so far to just over $200,000.