Oregon governor's race seems to be tightening

Oregon Governor's Race: Republican Knute Buehler and Democrat Kate Brown. (File Photos)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's re-election chances may have dimmed a little. The Cook Political Report recently changed the outlook for the race. It was considered a "likely Democratic" win. It's now been moved into the "lean Democratic" column.

"It's not that big of a surprise," said Jim Moore, political science professor at Pacific University. "Kate Brown, our incumbent governor, has not become more popular."

Moore says Brown's negative ratings have never been that bad. But her inability to raise her approval numbers has allowed Republican challenger Knute Buehler to make a strong showing.

"Yes, Knute Buehler can actually win," says Moore. "But it's up to him to show he can do that."

Moore says Buehler's biggest challenge is fundraising. Brown has much more money in the bank and thus, her campaign looks stronger behind the scenes.

"When you look behind the scenes, she looks pretty strong," says Moore. "She has five times as much money in the bank as Knute Buehler does. On the outside, she looks weak, but when you look at the campaign and its ability, she looks strong."

Moore says public polling on the race has been unreliable at this point. He points to internal polling as more accurate and that information gives Brown a slight edge.

Much of the national political conversation has centered around a possible "blue wave" during the midterm elections. Even if that holds true, Moore says Oregon has a proven record of bucking the national trend. Still, he admits that Buehler faces an uphill battle.

"Can he bring the social conservative, pro-Trump Republicans, who didn't vote for him in the primary, and then keep the rest of the Republicans and get Democrats, possibly 20 percent or 25 percent of them?" asks Moore.

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