Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a strong lead over President Donald Trump in Oregon as most voters continue to express strong concern about the economy and the continued spread of COVID-19, according to a new poll released Friday.
The former vice president leads Trump 51% to 39% - virtually the exact same margin Democrat Hillary Clinton won Oregon by in 2016. The online survey of 502 registered voters - excluding those who said they were probably or definitely not going to vote — was conducted by DHM Research of Portland from Sept. 3-8. On Thursday, the firm released other results from the poll on voter attitudes about the Portland protests.
The survey, which has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, showed that 67% remain worried about the spread of the pandemic in their community. The firm found similar levels of concern when it surveyed Oregon adults in April and May.
Oregon voters are sharply divided by their political leanings in how they assess the seriousness of the virus. Among Biden supporters, 85% are very or somewhat worried about the disease. Among Trump supporters, just 43% expressed serious concern.
At the same time, almost half of voters, 47%, think the spread of the virus is staying about the same as it has been, while 28% think things are improving and 20% think the situation is getting worse. Those responses also had a partisan divide, with Republicans expressing more optimism.
New COVID-19 cases have declined in Oregon since the end of July, but they continue to be at higher levels than in April and May when the state was in a strict lockdown. Restrictions on the size of gatherings and some businesses has continued while Oregon’s unemployment rate is still much higher than it was before the pandemic. The latest figures show joblessness was at 10.4% in July. That’s down just over a point from June.
The DHM survey found that 46% of respondents believe the economy is getting worse, while another 39% say it is about the same. Only 9% say it is improving. Likely Trump voters are more likely to say that Oregon’s economy is getting worse than are Biden supporters.
The poll also found that most Oregon voters continue to give Gov. Kate Brown negative marks for her job performance, with 51%t expressing disapproval and 43% approving. She’s received similar ratings in DHM polls conducted in June and October of 2019. However, the latest survey did show 52% of voters approve of her handling of the Covid crisis, while 45% disapproved.
Brown has been slower than many governors – particularly Republicans – to lift restrictions on gatherings and business activities. She’s also issued a controversial statewide mandate requiring the use of masks in public.
The Oregon Republican Party sought to recall her this summer, saying in the petition that she used the pandemic to “unlawfully restrict our freedoms, causing needless economic ruin.” The petition failed to gain enough signatures to make the ballot.
The president is more unpopular than Brown among Oregon voters. Sixty percent gave him negative job ratings and 59% said they did not approve of the way he has handled the pandemic.