Suzanne Bonamici (D): 50
Rob Cornilles (R): 39
The way the DCCC has been spending money in the special election in Oregon's 1st district (necessitated by David Wu's ignominious resignation), you'd think there was imminent danger of losing this fairly-blue seat. (It went 61% for Barack Obama in 2008 under the district's old lines, which are the lines being used for this election.) The polls, however, just aren't showing that, making it look like it's more of a DCCC insurance policy to avoid any nasty surprises a la the NY-09 election, where they did too little too late.
Today's SurveyUSA release is the second poll of the race (and their first look at the general election), and if the numbers look kind of familiar, that's because it's the same 11-point margin as PPP found on our behalf in December. (PPP didn't include the Libertarian and Pacific Party candidates, so they wound up with 52-41 instead.)
They find that Cornilles hasn't suffered a whole lot from being on the wrong end of a lot of negative advertising and from local media exposes on his puffed-up job creation claims; he's still above water at 35/31 favorables. More importantly, though, Bonamici is well-liked, at 46/26; factor in the Democratic numeric advantage here (like a 42-30 registration advantage), and you've got the recipe for a Bonamici win. (Also, it wouldn't be a SurveyUSA poll without some weird age-related crosstabs, and their finding is that Bonamici's lead is almost entirely due to voters 50 and older. Cornilles actually leads 43-42 among the 18-49 set. Before you go blaming their not polling cellphone users, this sample does include cellphone users, but they found, contrary to pretty much every study on the subject, that cellphone users skewed slightly more Republican than landline users.)
Instead of NY-09, the analogy here might be the special election last fall in NV-02, where the NRCC jumped in early with a huge ad buy that defined Dem Kate Marshall early, helping the GOP's Mark Amodei to a double-digit win in a lean-GOP district. If anything, the DCCC may go even further here, though: the DCCC spent or reserved over $1 million in ad time here (note that they aren't locked in to spending the full reserved amount, though, so the actual amount may be less than $ 1 million). Nathan Gonzales also reports today that the Dems have already purchased a larger volume of ads here than the GOP did in NV-02 (4,579 gross rating points vs. 4,170, and that's not even considering how much more expensive the Portland market is than the Reno market). That's on top of additional ad spending revealed in the last couple days from both the Bonamici campaign itself ($80K) and their allies at EMILY's List ($87K).
Ballots go in the mail next week (Oregon is an all vote-by-mail state) and are due Jan. 31, so there's not much time left for the NRCC or GOP dark money groups to get off the pot and start spending money here. So far, only Cornilles himself has spent on advertising, and as Gonzales reports, Republican consultants are "reluctant" to get in here.
There's one final development today that further complicates Republican efforts to paint Bonamici as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal (and Cornilles' efforts to paint himself as a post-partisan problem solver): a major cross-the-aisle endorsement from Dave Frohnmayer. Frohnmayer is former president of University of Oregon, former state Attorney General, and the losing 1990 gubernatorial candidate, and sort of the remaining figurehead of the once-dominant moderate wing of Oregon's Republican Party. Cornilles' public persona would seem tailor-made for the Frohnmayer wing of the party, so for Frohnmayer to outright spurn him is a big deal.