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Why Do Polls Show Dramatically Different Results In Senate Race?

Jeff Merkley and Monica Wehby.

Two polls released nearly back-to-back this week paint dramatically different pictures of the Oregon Senate race. 

One shows challenger Monica Wehby in a statistical dead heat with incumbent Jeff Merkley. The other shows Merkley with a double-digit lead. 

It may come as no surprise that the poll that puts Wehby in a dead heat with Merkley was sponsored by her campaign.

Tim Hibbitts of DHM Research says partisan-sponsored surveys can be skewed by asking questions in a way meant to favor a certain candidate.

Hibbitts?, a longtime Oregon political pollster, says the other poll released this week was non-partisan, and it stacks up fairly closely to two other independent polls released since Wehby won the May GOP primary. This latest one showed Mekley with an 18 point lead.

"That is going to have a certain dampening effect on Ms. Wehby's ability to raise money," Hibbitts said. "Consequently, what they want to do is trot out some numbers showing that ain't so."

Wehby is a pediatric neurosurgeon. A key part of her platform is her opposition to the Affordable Care Act. 

Merkley is seeking his second term in the U.S. Senate. Among other things, his campaign highlights his push for clean energy and his efforts to reform the financial industry.