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Poll: Majority of Oregon voters approve of Kitzhaber, but he has vulnerabilities

A majority of Oregon voters approve of Gov. John Kitzhaber's job performance in this election year. But he shows signs of vulnerability, according to a new OPB poll released Wednesday.

The poll by DHM Research found that 49 percent of voters believe it's time to replace Kitzhaber. That compares with 35 percent who say he deserves to be re-elected.

Pollster John Horvick says that some of the governor's problems stem from Cover Oregon and its troubled website.

"Those who have a strong feeling about Cover Oregon, that they're following closely and have strong opinions about it, are more likely to say that they disapprove of him, are less likely to say that they want to vote for him for re-election," said Horvick.

"So if that issue becomes prominent, if Dennis Richardson is able to capitalize on that it certainly looks like, in our data, a potential weakness for the governor."

The survey also looked at the potential match-up between the governor and Republican candidate Dennis Richardson. That showed Kitzhaber enjoying a 12-point lead.

The poll sampled 400 registered voters in Oregon and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

The survey also found:

• More Oregon voters (49 percent) say that it is time to replace Gov. Kitzhaber than say he deserves to be re-elected (35 percent).

• Concerning for the governor is that just 58 percent of Democrats believe he should be re-elected. He is also showing weakness with Independent voters, of which a majority (54 percent) would like to see him replaced.

• Additionally, frequent voters (those who have voted in at least 3 of the last 4 elections) were more likely to say that the governor should be replaced (47 percent) than re-elected (43 percent).

• However, in a head-to-head match-up with state Rep. Dennis Richardson, Gov. Kitzhaber has an edge. When asked who they are likely to support in the general election, 48 percent would support Gov. Kitzhaber compared to 36 percent who would support Rep. Richardson.

• Gov. Kitzhaber’s support is strongest among Democrats (78 percent), voters ages 55 and older (59 percent), and those in the Willamette Valley (58 percent).

• Disapproval is highest among Republicans (64 percent), those ages 35 to 54 (46 percent), and Tri-County residents (42 percent).