This will not be as in-depth as I originally intended, but the necessity I found in publishing it at all overcame my desire for a deeper analysis of the region. Eastern Oregon is a geographically and politically diverse region, or really collection of neighboring regions. There are more counties there than in other parts of Oregon, and while there are many communities and settlements they tend to be small, and settlement is focused on several hubs, I will gloss over a lot of the particularities unless they are notable. The Gorge and Columbia region extends from Cascade Locks to the end of the Columbia River’s run as the northern border of the state. The Northeast stretches from there through the Blue Mountains to the Idaho border. Central Oregon is largely defined by the city of Bend and its satellite communities. Southeastern Oregon is sparsely populated but vast (bigger than West Virginia in land area). It is also the only region in the east that has never had a strong Democratic presence in Oregon’s modern history.
All of these regions are within Oregon’s 2nd Congressional district represented by Republican Greg Walden. All of the areas are fully represented by Republicans in the legislature, although within the last 20 years several have had Democratic legislators at times. Of the seventeen counties in the region Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden both carried three counties in this region in their most recent US Senate campaigns, Barack Obama carried two in 2008 and one in 2012, and John Kitzhaber only carried one county here in either of his 2010 or 2014 gubernatorial elections.
This post is mainly just for show. I will have more analysis later when I have the time. These are not exactly precinct maps, but use census tracts, and only in some areas do they line up exactly. In some areas they overlap, in some areas one precinct covers several tracts, and in others on tract has several precincts. They also cross over borders between congressional and legislative districts. I've done my best to represent the precinct results with the tracts. Where I do not have precinct results, the results by county or district will be shown.
Quick color guide, for the maps that are just the results:
Darkest Blue: 85% or more of the 2 party vote was Democratic
Next Darkest Blue: 75-85% of the 2 party vote was Democratic
Middle Blue: 65-75% was Democratic
Next Lightest Blue: 55-65% Democratic
Lightest Blue: 50-55% Democratic
Pink: 45-50% Democratic
Salmon: 35-45% Democratic
Dark Salmon: 25-35% Democratic
Brown: 15-25% Democratic
Dark Brown: under 15% Democratic
Numerous publications, and many candidates, are saying that control of the Oregon state senate is at stake in this election. Facially it's true of course, because there are enough seats up that if either party won enough, they would control the senate. Looking at individual races, though, I am doubtful that control is really in play this year.
Democrats currently have a 16-14 majority in the senate, which certainly looks close. There are two relatively marginal districts that Democrats hold which are up this year, too. District 16 is on the North Coast, with Columbia County and parts of Washington and Multnomah counties, too. This is the Democratic district up with the lowest performance by the president last year, about 54.2% of the two party vote. There moderate Democrat Betsy Johnson had no Republican file to challenge her, and she actually won the Republican nomination via write-in, so her only challenger is someone running on the Independent Party and Working Families Party lines. Failing to recruit a strong candidate in this district really cut down the Republican Party's ability to take the senate.
Among all of the other Democratic seats up, they only recruited two reasonably strong challengers. Meanwhile there are six Republican seats up this year, and only one of them is strongly Republican. Two more of them lean Republican a bit, but in one Democrats didn't field a candidate. Democrats are playing for the remaining four races, making it that much harder for Republicans to gain the two seats they would need to take the senate.
Since my hard drive crashed and I'm still in the early stages of rebuilding my data, I decided it was time to take a look at some demographics and other data and to see if we can understand the changes going on in the state better, and in doing so be able to predict with at least a little confidence what will happen in the future.
I think a lot of people know a bit about Oregon's demographics, like that its overwhelmingly white, but we're still somewhat a misunderstood state. There's a lot more going on under the hood for those willing to take a peek.
I have beaten this particular horse to death, but if you went looking for a state that is white and working class, Oregon wouldn’t be a bad place to end up. Just 1.6 percent of Oregonians are African-American (though it does have its share of Hispanic and Asian voters). It ranks below the national average in income levels while having one of the nation’s higher unemployment rates.
And yet, there may be something about Oregon’s political DNA that’s a little different. As I mentioned previously, Oregon has the most left-leaning Democratic electorate in the country.
I wrote a post a while back covering this and thought I would write a new one about how voter registration has changed among Oregon's counties in recent history. Below I cover the changes since 2001 and 2012.
California and Washington state have adopted the Top 2 primary system in the last few years, and now business interests are putting up lots of money to fool Oregonians into implementing it too. However, in crafting it they have attached a poison pill that, when exposed, should convince any Democrat to oppose the ballot measure. Below I will explain.
I am going to just go over the key sections of the ballot measure that concern me, but the whole thing is linked below if you'd like to read it. Now you might want to go grab some snacks and a beverage because shit's about to get real.
There are 60 state house districts, and while in the past I've gone through each one, this year I'm not going to do that. I will simply describe what I expect to be the top races, and then some other races that may prove interesting. Rather than 60 races, this will end up covering more like a dozen.
Currently Democrats have a majority in the house of 34 out of 60, Republicans have 26 seats. Democratic seats are mainly from the Portland metro area, including most of the suburban seats, two seats in the Salem area, every seat in the Eugene-Springfield area, all but one of the seats on the Coast, the seat in Corvallis, and a seat in southern Jackson County, where Ashland is. The rest of the state is represented by Republicans. Most of the action is usually in districts on the outer edge of the Portland suburbs, and that will be no different this year.
Below I cover some of the key races, races that expect will determine the make-up of the house in the next session, as well as some other races to watch below that which I don't expect to, but may prove interesting for one reason or another. For key races the fundraising numbers were collected from Orestar since yesterday afternoon (7/17) until this morning (7/18), for the races to watch they were from about a week earlier.
Not the US Senate election for Jeff Merkley, but the state senate. Roughly half of the 30 member state senate is up for election in 2014, and this group of districts was last up in 2010, prior to redistricting. Below I'll briefly discuss each of the districts where right now it looks like there may be an interesting race this year, with some 2012 election results and the result of the senate race in 2010, and I listed each of the other districts that will also be up but where there is no reason to think there will be a serious contest yet, and the percentage of the vote that Barack Obama received in those districts, which generally explains why they probably won't. Finally I will conclude with a little overall analysis.
Among the 2012 data that I include is the "Democratic average", which is the average of the results for the elections for Treasurer, Attorney General, and Secretary of State only including the Democratic and Republican candidates, and should be compared with the statewide average, which was 58.1% Democratic.
I might have information about the latest fundraising estimate for campaigns, or if there have been any more candidate filings recently, but ORESTAR is down. For reference here are maps of the districts.
I generally say that more heavily Hispanic areas in Oregon have trouble with turnout. Below I use maps and charts to illustrate my research into whether I am truthful in asserting that.
Oregon is a big state. The 9th biggest in the country. It has 36 counties, and some of them are quite large as well, particularly in eastern and southern Oregon. However, not many people live there, and so those regions have a disproportionately smaller impact on election results in the state.
For example, the 10 counties that voted for Obama in 2012 cast over 61% of the votes in the whole state, despite being only 10 of 36 counties. In fact, the 7 most populous counties in the state cast over 70% of all of the votes in the state. That population concentration has grown over the years, and it should scare Republicans. Obama may have won only 4 of those 7 most populous counties in 2012, but he won 6 of the 7 in 2008. None of them have shown a long-term Republican trend, but many are becoming more Democratic.
They are also becoming a larger share of the vote. The counties Obama won in 2012 cast only 59.7% of the statewide vote in 1996, but 61.3% in 2012. The 7 largest counties only cast 68.4% of the vote in 1996, but 70.6% in 2012.
Blah blah blah, Newt Gingrich is a loser, and tonight we'll find out how much of a loser Republicans think he is, too. I'll be following the Mississippi, Alabama, and Hawaii presidential elections, along with congressional primaries in Alabama and Mississippi that appear competitive.
Polls are all over the place, but suffice it to say I wouldn't be surprised if any 2 of Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich won a state tonight... perhaps all three.
There's also an event in American Samoa but I don't even know where that is, much less if there are more than 3 Republicans there in the first place.
7:11 p.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN: Exits: more than half of voters in Miss. & Ala. say @MittRomney not conservative enough (those voters split btw Gingrich & Santorum)
Former Independent Governor Angus King of Maine has decided to run for the US Senate now that Olympia Snowe is retiring. There has been much talk of where he stands on the issues, and which party he would caucus with. There has been a lot of speculation. At least as far as where he stands on the issues, I'd like to try to settle some of that here.