Oregon appears to be in play

My Senate polling roundup from a few days ago did not include the Oregon race between incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkeley and Republican Dr. Monica Wehby (Wehby isn’t the Republican candidate yet, but she’s favored to win the nomination). That’s because the polling organization whose work I reported on, Magellan Strategies, did not conduct a survey of that race.

The Oregon race only recently has come to be widely considered competitive. This new view of the race can be attributed in part to Wehby’s compelling “Trust” ad. As John said after seeing it, Dr. Wehby (a pediatric neurosurgeon and no relation to Marcus Welby, M.D.) is playing for keeps.

Now, a new poll has Wehby ahead of Sen. Merkeley. The poll was conducted for the Daily Caller by Vox Populi Polling. It shows Wehby with the support of 40 percent of registered voters, while another 5 percent say they are leaning toward voting for her. Merkeley has the support of 39 percent, while another 2 percent say they are leaning in his favor.

As always seems to be the case when a Democratic incumbent polls badly, Obamacare is a significant factor. 46 percent of those surveyed said that Obamacare and Cover Oregon, the state’s joke of a health care exchange, were failures. Only 17 percent said they were successes.

The Vox Populi poll is only the second one I’m aware of that tests Merkeley against Wehby. The other poll, taken a month ago, had Merkeley leading her by 46-34.

But that was before Wehby began running her Trust ad. It seems to have had a significant effect, as John predicted it would.

The ad presumably resonates particularly strongly among female voters, and the new poll shows that she’s doing reasonably well with them. She trails, as one would expect, but only by 37-44.

If the Vox Populi poll is a reliable guide, the female undecideds (of which there are more than 17 percent, compared to only 10 percent male undecideds) will probably determine the outcome of a Merkeley-Wehby race. It may be hard to derail Wehby through a “war on women” attack, but the Dems will leave no stone unturned in trying to drive down her popularity among female voters in this Blue state.

For example, we saw in the Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown race how warnings of a Republican Senate takeover can affect a Blue state race. It isn’t always necessary to persuade voters that a particular Republican hates women; it may be enough to claim that Republicans as a party do.

Wehby is untested as a political candidate so it’s difficult to say how she will hold up. But right now I think it’s fair to say, as Vox Populi’s Brent Seaborn does, that Oregon is in play for the Republicans.

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