It’s hard to cover Congressional races and give all 435 attention, simply because the effort in keeping up with the vast number of races would prove overwhelming. A few races that get nationalized for various reasons — say, calling an opponent a member of the Taliban, or being responsible for the collapse of the lending industry — but otherwise the national attention looks to meta-level polling and races involving leadership, or in a few cases, districts that may give tea-leaves readers a sense of proportion for the national momentum.
Oregon’s 5th CD race may be one of the latter. The district has a narrow D+1 rating, but hasn’t been represented by a Republican since 1995. Democrats have held the seat for nine of the last ten terms. The incumbent, Kurt Schrader, won the seat by 16 points in 2008, and Republicans haven’t scored above 45.1% in more than a decade. And yet, Survey USA shows that Republican challenger Scott Bruun has a 10-point lead with less than two weeks to go:
In an election for US House of Representatives in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District today, 10/20/10, Republican challenger Scott Bruun edges Democratic incumbent Kurt Schrader 51% to 41%, according to an exclusive KATU-TV poll conducted by SurveyUSA.
Bruun, elected to the Oregon House in 2004, runs strong among men and younger voters. Schrader is within striking distance among women and older voters. As it has in other geographies, SurveyUSA here probes to see if those who rarely vote in congressional elections, but who say they are uniquely motivated to vote in 2010, are voting Republican. One theory underlying much of the 2010 campaign narrative is that Republicans are uniquely motivated, Democrats uniquely dispirited. As SurveyUSA observed in data released 24 hours ago to KATU-TV in Oregon’s 1’st Congressional District, that narrative is true here: Bruun leads 2:1 among those who rarely vote in midterms. The contest is closer among those who vote in every congressional election. A question on enthusiasm reveals: those more enthusiastic about voting in 2010 than in prior elections vote Republican 3:1; those less enthusiastic in 2010 than in prior elections vote Democrat 3:1. Among the 1 in 10 voters who have already filled out a ballot, the contest is even. Schrader’s hope is that all those who told SurveyUSA they will vote but haven’t yet, won’t.
Oregon’s 1st CD is a D+8 district, and incumbent Democrat David Wu has a nine-point lead despite the “dispirited” nature of Democrats. Republicans probably never considered OR-01 a serious candidate for a pickup, but then again, they had little reason to suspect OR-05 would be one, either — until it was.
Bruun leads among both men and women, in all but one age demo (50-64YOs, 46/47), and has an 11-point lead among independents, 49/38. Among those neutral about the Tea Party movement, he holds a 24-point lead, 56/32. The one worrisome demographic is those who have already cast ballots in early voting; he narrowly trails Schrader, 46/47. Among likely voters yet to cast their ballots, he leads 51/41, the same percentage as the overall poll.
Obviously, Bruun needs to push turnout, and those interested can visit his website to discover how they can help. If Republicans take this one by a wide margin in a blue state like Oregon, it’s hard to imagine where Democrats can successfully build a firewall.