A new public radio poll shows that incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley may be more vulnerable than previously thought. The survey commissioned by Oregon Public Broadcasting found that heading into this year's election, less than half of voters have a favorable opinion of the first-term Democrat.
The poll of 400 registered Oregon voters has some good news for Merkley: Nearly twice as many voters have a favorable opinion of him than have a negative opinion. But more than a third of Oregonians polled either have no opinion or haven’t heard of him at all. John Horvick of Portland polling firm DHM Research says that's a potential Achilles’ heel for the incumbent Democrat.
"It presents a real opportunity for whoever the Republican candidate is, with an effective campaign, to at least make an attempt to try to define who he is to Oregonians," Horvick said.
The GOP primary for U.S. Senate is coming down to a race between Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby and central Oregon State Representative Jason Conger. Wehby is already garnering a lot of attention on the state and national stage. But Merkley still maintains a sizeable fundraising lead. The Oregon primary is May 20.
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