Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oregon Senate: The Memo Said “Wyden Is Vulnerable in 2010”

By Stuart Rothenberg

Last week, the folks at Moore Information, a long-time GOP survey research firm based in Portland, Oregon, distributed a poll memo asserting that Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who has been in the Senate since winning a special election in 1996, is vulnerable this year.

Was I skeptical? Sure. But I read on because in a year such as this, any Democrat might be in trouble, even those who haven’t had tough re-elections in the past.

The memo, conducted for GOP Senate hopeful Jim Huffman, included data about the generic Senate ballot (voters preferred a Republican to a Democrat by 11 percentage points), a Wyden re-elect (44% re-elect/45% new person) and an so-called informed ballot test conducted after information was presented about the candidates’ backgrounds.

The memo also included an Obama job approval and a right direction/wrong track question, in addition to a couple of questions about issues.

No, there was no initial Wyden-Huffman ballot, no Wyden ID (with favorable and unfavorable) and no Huffman ID.

When I asked pollster Bob Moore for that data, he declined to produce it, noting that the campaign had not authorized its release.

Obviously, those crucial poll results weren’t released because they contradict the conclusion that Wyden is vulnerable. They almost certainly showed Wyden far ahead on the ballot test and with strong favorable ratings.

In fact, most recent Oregon Senate polls have found Wyden at or above 50% when matched against Huffman and leading the Republican by from 10 to 20 points.

A quick check of the two candidates’ pre-primary April 24 FEC reports showed Wyden with $3.7 million in the bank to Huffman’s $224,000.

Given how favorable the national political environment is for Republicans, Wyden may well find himself in a tougher race this time than he had in 1998, when he won with 61%, or in 2004, when he won with over 63%.

But simply asserting that an incumbent is in trouble doesn’t make it so, and nothing in the Moore Information memo suggests that it’s true. In fact, leaving crucial information out suggests that the Huffman campaign has something to hide.