Oregon Primary May 20 Could Be a Close Race

The Register Guard today reports the Democratic primary in Oregon could be a close race.

Oregon’s demographics may portend a close race, said Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts. “We have strong liberal pockets like Portland and Eugene, more moderate Democrats in the suburbs, and some blue-collar and working-class Democrats who are amenable to Clinton’s campaign,” he said. “You throw it all together and it’s a fairly competitive race.”

Oregon gets 65 delegates to the DNC, 52 pledged, 12 superdelegates and 1 add-on. It has 7 electoral college votes. Barack Obama made three campaign stops in Oregon this week.

Obama, of course, dropped in on Eugene, Salem and Portland on Friday, as well as Medford on Saturday, and many assume both he and Clinton will visit again before early May, when Oregon voters will start receiving their ballots in the mail.


In 2004, Oregon voted 52% to Kerry, 48% to Bush. In 2000, it was 47% for Gore, 46.5% for Bush. In 1996, it voted 47% for Bill Clinton, 39% for Bob Dole.

Here's the county map showing party strength. The Democrats get he Northwest portion of the state, the rest of the state leans red.

Older polls hadObama has been doing better in polling against McCain and in convincing Republicans to cross-over to vote for him. There are no recent Oregon polls.

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    The most interesting aspect of OR is mail-in (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Pacific John on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:38:49 PM EST
    The primary, like the general, is 100% mail-in. This has resulted in the highest turn-outs in the nation, and has been very good for Democrats. Mail-in turned Oregon blue.

    And high turn-out mail-in should offer an edge to Hillary. Demographically, OR is around 90% Anglo, 10% Hispanic, with small smatterings of other ethnic groups. Income and age are at just about the national average. It's a closed primary. Key factors show a series of slight edges for HRC.

    As a Hillary volunteer, I like it. It looks like a tough fight we'll win.

    A side note: the linked CNN map is a little misleading. 3/5 of the population is up around Portland, so if you weight for population density, OR is blue.

    Does the Clinton campaign (none / 0) (#5)
    by shoephone on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:45:33 PM EST
    have much of a presence in Oregon? From everything I'm hearing and reading, Obama has put lots of money into the state and lots of people on the ground there.

    Press reports (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Pacific John on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:25:27 PM EST
    indicate the HRC field campaign has just started.

    The Obama campaign has been doing grassroots organizing for months, and of course had a series of events up and down I-5 Friday and Saturday.

    As often happens with grassroots organizing, productivity takes a backseat. This may have been on display this week: blog reports from the Portland event paint an overall picture of confusion. Something went wrong because an advance team can usually pull this sort of thing off, despite poor volunteer coordination. Allegedly being on the ground for 12 months and not being able to pull off the first big Obama event is a great sign for the opposition... as in other primary states, the Obama volunteer effort is more smoke than fire.  

    For a reference frame, one can recall that HRC did not have a large volunteer operation until a few weeks ago, right after Super Tuesday. And that operation was effective in the first test drive in TX and OH. It's an untold story how the two volunteer operations stack up against each other.

    For BHO in OR, as with the HRC campaign, things won't actually happen until professional staff hits the ground.


    Insider (none / 0) (#17)
    by 1jane on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:38:19 PM EST
    From the Oregon Obama volunteers and from the Obama staffers who are the advance team we saw a group of total stangers work together and pull off huge events across the state. In our county the Obama supporters made strong demands that were met by the advance team. The sense was everything was well organized, from where to park, handicapped access, security screeners, volunteers holding sheets of instructions, overflow areas, orders from the secret service, local police, motorcade routes, reserved seating for certain groups, and so forth. Watching the crowds emerge there was not a sense of frustration, but a sense of satisfation. The only disaapointment reported was not being able to get in because the capacity for seating ran out.

    Oregon is not a lock for Obama (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by caseyOR on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:57:51 PM EST
    I moved to Oregon more than 30 years ago. It has always leaned toward moderation. Even our Repub. governors (when we still had them) were moderates. People outside of Oregon tend to think that Oregon is defined by Portland. Not so.

    The city of Portland is quite liberal and loves to tout its creative class. Most of the AA vote is in Portland, but AA's are a small part of Oregon's population. Outside the city limits, even in the Portland metro area, things are different.

    For example, Washington County, just west of Portland and part of the metro area, is home to Nike and the silicon forest (Intel, etc.), so one might think ooh the creative class, but not so. Dems have kept that congressional seat for a number of years, but it has never been a sure seat. And it has a large latino population, and I believe latinos have been pretty much breaking for Hillary in the previous primaries this year.

    Linn/Benton counties (Oregon State U. and Western Oregon U.) outside the college towns is much more moderate to conservative.

    Lane county, home of the U of O at Eugene, is, once you get outside of Eugene, not so liberal. This was a big logging county with many mill towns. Very blue collar. The economy has never really recovered from the downturn in logging and related industries. Lunch bucket issues.

    Now the salmon fishing will likely be completely shut down on the west coast. This is a big hit for the coastal communities. Once again, lunch bucket issues.

    So far, working class concerns have not favored Obama. If the economy continues to tank, and people are really looking at economic issues I think it could well be advantage Clinton.

    As others have said, southern Oregon and east of the Cascades is pretty red, but suffering economically. And Bend has been hit hard by the housing crisis.

    I don't think that Ted Kulongoski's endorsement of Hillary or Earl Blumenauer's endorement of Barack will carry that much weight.

    We do have an interesting democratic primary battle for US senate. Not sure what impact that will make on the presidential primary, but it could boost even further the number of  democratic votes.

    Oregon just put into place a new set of requirements for obtaining a drivers license. They are quite restrictive, and make it pretty much impossible for the undocumented to get a license. If this issue bubbles up in the primary, it could affect the latino vote.

    That was a lot of good info (none / 0) (#22)
    by shoephone on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:00:51 PM EST

    Thanks (none / 0) (#27)
    by waldenpond on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 04:04:07 PM EST
    Hoppy Easter! (none / 0) (#1)
    by Angel on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:26:36 PM EST

    anyone can enlighten me? (none / 0) (#3)
    by ghost2 on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:41:20 PM EST
    Aren't certain pockets of Oregon liberals like those in Washington state, Wisconsin, or Vermont?  [ I don't remember what they are called?)

    If that's the case, isn't that an advantage for Obama? Is Oregon more like Vermont, WA, or is it like CA?

    It is expected to favor (none / 0) (#9)
    by waldenpond on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:01:23 PM EST
    Obama.  His campaign projected it for him.  Seems pretty similar to Washington...

    Oregon >65 12.9%    WA  11.5%
    Oregon Bachelor or higher 25%  WA 27.7%
    Oregon median income $42, 568  WA $48,438

    I'm sure someone somewhere has the demographics per county and how they will swing.


    Yes, but WA was a caucus. OR is a primary (none / 0) (#25)
    by Manuel on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:45:00 PM EST
    It will be close.

    OR is like WA (none / 0) (#12)
    by badger on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:12:14 PM EST
    The urban west (Seattle or Portland) is very liberal and the more rural east is very conservative. There are exceptions - Bend, OR or Spokane, WA are in the eastern half, but more moderate - but as a general rule the model holds.

    The Cascades divide the two sections of each state. In WA, 80% of the votes are west of the Casades - I think in OR it's slightly less. There are suburban and rural pockets on the west side that lean more R, which is what brings the balance closer to even.

    In WA, the votes on the east side only count when the election is very close (Gregoire). For most elections, you can drop all of the D votes in E WA and the Democrat still wins comfortably (Kerry, Murray).


    Most of Oregon is quite red (none / 0) (#4)
    by shoephone on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:41:42 PM EST
    Even Ashland -- one of the bluest cities -- lies in Jackson County, which is reliabaly red, overall. I think Medford may be up for grabs if Dems can put on the charm offensive. One of the scariest parts of the state is the southwest tip, just over the California border where you might imagine some liberalism. But driving through there always gives me the willies. It's more libertarian than anything, and in sort of a hostile way.

    With Gordon Smith trying to play both sides of the fence on Iraq and other issues, who knows what could happen in November? I would still be surprised, however, if Obama doesn't beat Clinton by at least 5 points in the primary.

    Yes (none / 0) (#7)
    by zyx on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:51:07 PM EST
    I have lived in Oregon for five years.  I think unless Obama gets (or stays) in real trouble in the next few weeks he will win by some margin here.  Oregonians seem to go for the more-hip.  Funny, cos I ask folks I work around, Obama or Clinton? and they think a little and say, probably Obama.  And if I say I worry about his lack of foreign policy experience, they start to agree and then say nice things about Clinton.  But that is a sample size of three or four.

    Add in the economy.... (none / 0) (#16)
    by BarnBabe on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:34:51 PM EST
    In 1992, Bill Clinton had to turn around the economy after #41 and the 90's did well. The economy is back in the forefront and there is experience there if only talking over the DR table. HRC knows what needs to be done in that regard.

    Southern Oregon... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Alvord on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:52:03 PM EST
    ... has seen some migration of conservative/libertarians fleeing California.

    heh State of Jefferson (none / 0) (#28)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 05:28:55 PM EST
    The funniest thing is driving though northern cali and southern oregon and seeing signs for the "state of jefferson".  It's an idea that this region should form a new state.  Very libertarian and not top thrilled with more liberal state leadership.

    Agree with other posters on demos.  Just want to add that my impression is that while there used to be a pretty vocal christian conservative movement about 15 years back, their rhetoic turned a lot of folks off and really hurt the state gop.  Many more conservatives are of the libertarian bent.  Especially southern farmers who got mad when the clinton admin tried to shut off access to rogue (?) River irrigation.  Bush reversed this.  Not sure if they'd still hold against clinton, but they are repubs anyway.


    Klamath River (none / 0) (#29)
    by caseyOR on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 05:35:30 PM EST
    Progressive Oregon (none / 0) (#6)
    by 1jane on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 01:46:38 PM EST
    The Obama campaign flew out of Medford, in Southern Oregon yesterday. We expect a visit from Senator Clinton or former president, Bill Clinton in the next few weeks. In my county, the Obama supporters have been organized for over a year. They have been self-organized, meeting weekly over brown bag lunches resulting in a strong base of  about 160 folks. The Clinton supporters began organizing 2 weeks ago. Both groups include good strong local Democrats who've organized campaigns in the past. The tilt for enthusiam goes to the Obama group because they have been passing out literture, bumper stickers and buttons at local events for the past year. When the announcement came that Senator Obama was on his way, the Obama group was ready. Fortunately, the Clinton supporters have a few weeks to get it together. The Clinton folks hit the state 5 days ago. They plan to set up 5 offices across the state soon.
    Oregonians will receive their ballots by mail on May 2nd. There ballots must be returned by May 20th.

    We expect voters to return around 80% of the ballots.

    The statewide Republican Party recently declared themselves bankrupt. The Oregon House and Senate are majority Democratic, with their leaders solidly Democratic. We are in charge for the first time in 16 years. The 2007 legislative session was a landmark session, passing a long list that is already causing real positive change in Oregon.

    Oregon leans to Obama at this time..it is not a toss-up election. The Clinton campaign will need to work hard.


    Who has the gov of Oregon (none / 0) (#10)
    by americanincanada on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:05:29 PM EST

    Governor Ted (none / 0) (#11)
    by zyx on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:07:24 PM EST
    endorsed Clinton loooong time ago.  So did my rep, Darlene Hooley, one of our four (D)s in Congress.  One of the other (D)s has endorsed Obama--Earl Blumenaur, I think.  The others are still mum AFAIK.

    How much pull (none / 0) (#13)
    by americanincanada on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:18:10 PM EST
    or influence does gov Ted have? What does it feel lik on the ground there?

    The governor (none / 0) (#19)
    by zyx on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:53:36 PM EST
    is just one guy--not hugely charismatic, just a pretty good guy.

    It feels like Obama will win by a bit.  We aren't a big state, population-wise--a little bigger than half the size of Washington State, so I think that Clinton won't campaign hard here--the Democratic constituency is a bit more of the latte-sipping Obama types and that is the way of it, and she'll do better in PA and Kentucky and West Virginia and Puerto Rico, I suppose.  But it won't be the "blowout" that Washington was, because we don't have a caucus, we have a primary, and it's darned easy to vote.  I am a relative newcomer and don't know a huge number of people, but I think there are plenty of older Democrats and women voters and yes, people who are getting anxious about the economy and remember the nineties as better times who will be happy to vote for Clinton.  


    I have heard repeatedly (none / 0) (#14)
    by kenosharick on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:20:38 PM EST
    that Obama as a shoe-in for another blowout. This is good news.

    Funny... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Alvord on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:07:13 PM EST
    ... I live in the Portland metro area and I haven't heard anything about an Obama blowout. What I have heard is that Obama is favored but that Hillary is close. It will be interesting to see what effect the mail-in balloting in Oregon has on the race. I suspect that mail-in voting will work to Hillary's advantage but time will tell.

    I WAS watching a lot of msnbc and they (none / 0) (#30)
    by kenosharick on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 09:28:43 PM EST
    insisted he was expected to win huge there every time they mentioned Oregon- I never did see them cite polls now that you mention it.

    I've lived in the Portland area (none / 0) (#18)
    by ruthinor on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:41:54 PM EST
    for about 4 and a half years now and I would agree with the poster above who said that OR would probably lean Obama because he would excite the young, "hipper" group of dems.   I lot of Obama's support seems pretty mindless to me..."hope and dreams"

    Having moved here from the Boston area, I really love the mail-in vote.  It's convenient and probably really helps those who would have difficulty getting to the poles or standing in line for long periods.

    I lived in Boston for a short time (none / 0) (#20)
    by shoephone on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:54:45 PM EST
    and I don't think you could find a more polar opposite approach to politics than between Boston and Portland, Ore!

    BTW (none / 0) (#24)
    by zyx on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:26:47 PM EST
    It does rain TOO DAMN MUCH here!

    LOL (none / 0) (#26)
    by shoephone on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:47:46 PM EST
    It took me many years to get used to the Seattle weather. But the payoff is May through September when you go hiking and realize how lucky we are for all the beautiful greenery. And the water.

    And yes, the NW is all rain today.


    Jeralyn this (none / 0) (#32)
    by Andy08 on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 03:36:21 PM EST
    is one of the most lucid and intelligent posts I have read on this subject.

    Thank you.

    No, actually (none / 0) (#33)
    by zyx on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 04:02:00 PM EST
    I think Oregon will still be one of the most competitive for Obama of the remaining states because it is the least-churched of states, and the Wright flap will have a smaller effect than in other areas.

    I am interested in what effect the Wright controversy will have in Indiana.  Previously I understood Obama and Clinton to be running 50-50.  I would think this controversy would have a significant impact there, but I am pretty far removed from Indiana and its inhabitants.