For the second time in less than a week, a public poll has cast the Portland mayor's race as a statistical tie—while also confirming strong, late momentum for East Portland State Representative Jefferson Smith, who has closed a significant gap in recent months over his two main rivals, businesswoman Eileen Brady and former city commissioner Charlie Hales.
And it likely won't be the only major poll unveiled tonight. The Oregonian is expected to release its own public survey, sources say.
KATU's phone poll of 563 likely (and actual!) voters, conducted by Survey USA on May 4-7, finds the three major candidates just three percentage points apart. Brady is ahead, but barely, followed by Smith and then Hales. That spread is smaller than the margin of error for the poll—4.2 percent—which still means anything can happen. In a poll released last week by OPB and KPTV, based on calls made before ballots began dropping, Hales led both Brady and Smith, but the spread was still just five points. (The reshuffling could be statistical noise, or it could reflect fallout over Hales—whom we endorsed—having been caught in a fib over his efforts to help Portland Public Schools back when he was on council.)
But perhaps the most interesting finding in the KATU poll? Among voters who have sent in ballots early (only 35,700 ballots have been counted so far), Brady, at 36 percent, led Smith by seven points and Hales by 10. The top two finishers after ballots are submitted on May 15, of course, get to keep playing until the November runoff.
Meanwhile, the KATU poll also shows a dead heat in the race between incumbent City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and State Representative Mary Nolan. Nolan leads Fritz 34 percent to 31 percent—but the poll also shows 15 percent of respondents saying they'd vote for one of the other candidates in the race, including Bruce Altizer, David Gwyther, and Teressa Raiford. If that holds up, that could send the race into a runoff, too.