Writings and observations

So, in the end, the polls were more or less right – take an average of where they were in the last couple of weeks, and they didn’t run far from the final results. There were no massive underground swells, in either party (though the prospect for one was mainly held out on the Republican side).

Ron SaxtonProbable public explanation on Ron Saxton: Republicans wanted a winner; Kevin Mannix was too damaged by past losses and recent controversies; Saxton moved enough to the right in image at least to pick up a heavy slice of the conservative vote. Our take: Some truth in all of that, and a bit more besides.

One interesting early indication: There was no groundswell to the right beyond what polling already is picking up. That could have implications for a string of contests to come around the region. More on that in a day or two.

Ted KulongoskiProbable public explanation on Ted Kulongoski: Labor and several other interests weren’t strong enough to engineer a replacement. Our take: True, but the guv be underestimated as well.

In both cases, however: A number of factors have yet to be evaluated, including a closer look at the vote totals. We’ll be getting around to those soon.

There were political careers ended (Mannix) or seriously impaired (Hill, Sorensen). Atkinson did well enough electorally and impressed enough as a campaigner that he’s by no means done, if he wants to run again. Which, sooner or later, he likely will.

Implications for Ben Westlund’s independent campaign: Not especially good, at least at first glance. Both major party nominees won decisively, and a Mannix win on the Republican side (or a Hill upset on the Democratic) would have worked better for him. But this will take more evaluation.

Looks like a fun one come November – the early line at least is that Oregon apparently has a hotly-contested gubernatorial contest on its hands.

Partials from late Tuesday night:

Republican Ron Saxton 43.2% 97,629
Republican Kevin Mannix 29.6% 67,052
Republican Jason Atkinson 21.7% 49,068

Saxton got off to a substantial lead almost the moment polls closed, and never lost it. Same for Kulongoski.

Democratic Ted Kulongoski 54.3% 132,471
Democratic Jim Hill 29.5% 71,957
Democratic Pete Sorensen 16.2% 39,529

There were other indications worthy of note from the Tuesday numbers: The sweeping ouster of Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn maybe most notably. More comment on these and more results will be forthcoming.

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The Oregonian has an excellent vote resource for tonight’s elections up at its website. (There’s also an interesting experiment in webcasting going on there, but the connection has an annoying way of cutting in and out.) We’ll be tracking it and other sources this evening. (And, to be noted: We’ll be updating this post several times with results, rather than run a half-dozen new ones as we go.)

On the more hotly-contested Republican side, in the second round, Saxton’s lead continues to hold as Mannix’ percentage drops a bit, partly owing to a strong vote for Atkinson from Jackson County:

Republican Ron Saxton 45.0%
Republican Kevin Mannix 33.4%
Republican Jason Atkinson 15.5%

Saxton’s off to a decent start, and his people are probably just about to kick in the celebrations, but there’s a lot yet to go.

On the Democratic side, second round shows Kulongoski’s lead picking up and heading north of 50% – a psychological line that sorta kinda separates a technical win from an emotional win. A trend seems to show the governor doing best in rural counties, weakest in Marion, Lane and Polk:

Democratic Ted Kulongoski 53.5%
Democratic Jim Hill 27.6%
Democratic Pete Sorensen 18.9%

The conventional wisdom had Saxton winning a strong plurality and Kulongoski flirting around with a majority. Both seem to be meeting or bearing expectations so far.

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You see the expansion notices in Meridian or Post Falls, but they don’t spread evenly. Rupert today joined the list of rural places taking a hit, as Kraft Foods said it would close its processing plant there, taking 140 jobs with it, early in 2007. The plant produces cheese products.

Are there any takeaway lessons for local people, like those in Rupert, or elsewhere in Idaho or the Northwest? Well, yes, if you look closely at Kraft and its business environment.

Not, that is, at Rupert or Idaho – local conditions in that city and state appear to be irrelevant to the closure. (Not that the closure will be irrelevant to the city and state – it will put some hurt on Rupert.) Kraft was quoted as saying the closure had nothing to do with local productivity – and there’s no reason to assume otherwise – but rather is part of a series of consolidation of its processing facilities. Certainly the corporation is doing some restructuring – late last month it announced it was outsourcing most of its communications and database work.

An internal squeeze seems to be on, and in that connection you might consider this from an on-line piece basically about Wal-Mart: “In fiscal 2005, Wal-Mart saw sales grow 9.5% while inventories climbed 9.3%. Wal-Mart was able to wring out such good results by putting much of the onus on suppliers such as Procter & Gamble Co. , Kraft Foods Inc. and Estee Lauder Cos.”

Message to community economic development entities: When considering which manufacturers or base-level industries to attract to your community, or considering the mix you already have, ask who that business sells to. From that, you may be able to better determine if that business has a long or possibly short life span in your community.

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With just a short bit remaining before the Oregon polls close, a quick refresher on some of what we might learn before the night is through other than the numbers attached to winners and losers.

And listen up in Idaho and Washington – Oregon, with the first primary of the year, gets to sow some possible lessons for Idaho a week hence and Washington late in the summer.

We can consider the numbers of Democrats and Republicans casting ballots. The highest-profile office on the ballot, governor, has serious contests on both sides. Is one party voting much heavier than the other – and remember, the registration balance between the parties is close.

We can consider how the candidates’ results stack up to the polls – and consider whether the poll numbers reflected an underground surge for one or more candidates. Or whether an underground surge happened.

We can tell pretty quickly the geographical split of the candidates. And in Portland, we should get some good read on attitude in the races for county commission chair, city council and Tri-Met auditor (believe it or note). And there will be a few other local races worth watching.

Just shortly ahead.

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