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OPB poll: Wheeler, Novick, gas tax lead in Portland races

Clinton, Trump are ahead in their presidential primary races

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - State Treasurer Ted WheelerState Treasurer Ted Wheeler is far ahead of his closest opponent in the Portland mayor's race in a new poll commissioned by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

But Wheeler is below the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win the race outright in the May 17 Primary Election, and the largest single block of voters are undecided with only one week left to return vote-by-mail ballots.

According to the poll by DHM Research, Wheeler leads Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey by 33 percent to 9 percent. Thirty-nine percent of the voters are undecided.

"The survey shows that many Portlanders have yet to make up their minds — but that Wheeler, the best-funded candidate in the race by far, may have the momentum he needs," writes OPB reporter Amelia Templeton. "Thirty-nine percent of those polled were undecided. If those votes are distributed proportionally, researchers determined, Wheeler would capture 59 percent of the poll’s likely voters."

Wheeler campaign manager Michael Cox was encouraged by the results.

"We are heartened that Ted's progressive policies to address housing affordability, homelessness, more jobs and better wages are resonating with so many Portland voters. Our focus remains on the only poll that counts -- when votes are counted on May 17," Cox told the Portland Tribune.

Bailey had a similar reaction.

"The only poll that matters is Election Day," Bailey told the Portland Tribune.

It's more likley that Commissioner Steve Novick will be forced into a runoff election, according to the poll. Although he leads all challengers with 24 percent, more than half the voters are undecided. None of his opponents has more than 4 percent, however.

"I will continue to let people know that I have worked hard and will continue to work hard to ensure that all workers are treated fairly, to prepare the city for the earthquake, to help reduce our carbon emissions, and, of course, to fix our streets and make them safer," Novick told the Portland Tribune.

Architect Stuart Emmons, who is considered Novick's strongest opponents, says he wasn't discouraged by the results.

"I am optimistic about this race and about my blueprint for a thriving Portland that addresses homelessness, affordable housing and helps strengthen our schools. The poll is encouraging. More than half of voters haven't made up their minds -- I intend to earn their votes," Emmons told the Portland Tribune.

The poll also shows the temporary 10-cent-a-gallon city gas tax passing by a margin of 55 to 35 percent. That result cheers Novick, who sponsored the measure and contributed $25,000 of his contributions to the ballot measure campaign.

"As you know, I've poured a lot of my energy, time and campaign money into the gas tax, so that we can make long-delayed investments in street repair and traffic safety. I'm very glad that it looks like that has a very good chance of passing," Novick said.

And the poll also shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading Vermont US Senator by 48 to 33 percent in the Democratic presidential primary race. And it has Donald Trump leading with 45 percent in the Republican primary, compared to 14 percent each for Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

OPB stories on the poll can be read at opb.org.

The poll of approximately 900 voters (400 in Portland) was conducted between Friday and Monday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percent statewide and 4.9 percent in Portland.

OPB released the first results Tuesday afternoon. The Portland Tribune will also post more results as they become available and publish them in Thursday's issue.

The Portland Tribune and OPB are news partners.

For an earlier Portland Tribune story on the Portland races, see pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/305827-183087-as-election-nears-few-fireworks-punctuate-city-races