PPP's first look at the Oregon Senate race finds Jeff Merkley starting the general election with a 14 point lead over Republican challenger Monica Wehby, 50/36.
For a Republican to win in Oregon they would need to take independents- likely by a substantial margin- and get a strong level of crossover support from Democrats. But right now Wehby isn't succeeding on either of those fronts. Merkley leads with independents by the same 14 point margin he has overall, 45/31. And both he and Wehby are winning 11% of voters across party lines, which given the state's Democratic advantage plays to Merkley's benefit.
The bad news stories Wehby's had to deal with over the last few weeks have caused her to make an overall poor first impression on Oregonians. Only 26% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 40% with a negative one. Merkley's approval numbers aren't setting the world on fire- 41% approve and 34% disapprove, but they're good enough given Wehby's early struggles. It is likely though that the race will tighten at least some- among undecided voters only 21% approve of the job Barack Obama is doing to 63% who disapprove.
John Kitzhaber starts out with a similar lead to Merkley in his reelection quest for Governor. He's at 49% to 35% for Republican challenger Dennis Richardson. Kitzhaber's lead comes despite the fact that he is not very popular- only 42% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 46% who disapprove. One big reason Kitzhaber outperforms his approval numbers is that even though only 64% of Democrats say they approve of the job he's doing, 76% still say they would vote for him over his Republican foe.
Oregon voters are pretty much on board with gay marriage, which became legal in the state last week. 54% say they think it should be legal to just 40% who believe it should be illegal. That support will just continue to grow. When you look just at voters under 45, there is 65/30 support for gay marriage and when you look at just those under 30 there is 75/15 support. The only thing keeping the numbers remotely close overall is that seniors continue to oppose it 42/53. Just 24% of voters in the state say gay marriage being legal has had a negative impact on their lives, with 76% saying either that it's been positive or had no impact at all.
Full results here