PPP's newest Oregon poll finds Governor John Kitzhaber and Senator Jeff Merkley relatively popular and leading every Republican we tested against them.
Kitzhaber and Merkley have both become more popular over the second half of this year. Kitzhaber's approval rating is a +9 spread at 50/41. That's up 3 points from June when it was +6 at 45/39. Merkley's seen a more dramatic improvement in his standing. On our last poll he was at just a +3 approval spread (37/34) but now he's improved 12 points to +15 (44/29). Those are the best approval numbers we've found for him since he took office.
There are two Republicans who could be competitive with Kitzhaber and Merkley if they decided to mount 2014 campaigns: former Senator Gordon Smith and Congressman Greg Walden. Smith would trail Kitzhaber 47-42 and Merkley 47-43. That 4 point lead for Merkley over Smith is nearly identical to his 3 point win over him in 2008. Walden seems an incredibly unlikely candidate given his new leadership role but he would also come within single digits of both candidates, trailing Kitzhaber 49-40 and Merkley 47-42. Even if it's not this time Walden is probably the Republicans' best hope for winning a statewide office any time in the future- he has a +18 favorability at 39/21 and is even seen positively by Democrats at 32/24.
We also tested a trio of second tier potential Republican candidates against Kitzhaber and Merkley but none of them come anywhere close. Allen Alley trails Kitzhaber 52-37 and Merkley 53-36. Bruce Hanna trails Kitzhaber 52-33 and Merkley 52-34. Bruce Starr trails Kitzhaber 53-31 and Merkley 52-32. It's early but for now it looks like Kitzhaber and Merkley are in pretty decent shape barring a Smith candidacy.
Oregon voters are ready to legalize same sex marriage. 77% think they should be able to have a say on the issue, and 54% say they would vote to legalize it with 40% opposed. Independents support it by a 64/33 margin and there are more Republicans (17%) ready to make it legal than there are Democrats (15%) who aren't. Voters under 45 support it by a 68/30 spread.
Other notes from Oregon:
-Oregon voters prefer the Ducks over the Beavers by a 38/28 margin. Republicans are pretty evenly split, but Democrats prefer Oregon 39/23. Oregon's quirky football uniforms get positive reviews from voters in the state with 43% rating them favorably to 13% with an unfavorable view, and 44% having no opinion either way.
-20% of Oregonians say the Seahawks are their favorite NFL team to 11% for the Broncos, 10% for the 49ers, 9% for the Packers, 6% for the Cowboys, 5% for the Raiders, and 2% each for the Cardinals and Chargers.
Full results here