Writings and observations

The difficulties faced these days by Republicans in Washington and Oregon, and Democrats in Idaho, are underscored by a study released today by the Gallup Poll.

The study as a whole concerned how people identify themselves in terms of political party – Democratic or Republican, leaning to one or the other, or independent. It has been conducting the polls for some years. Nationally, it found that 34% called themselves Democrats or leaned that way, 30% Republicans or leaned that way, and 34% independents.

How do the numbers stack in the Northwest?

In Washington, which the poll again suggests is the most Democratic of the three, the Democrats accounted for 54%, Republican 36% and independents 10%. If that’s an accurate measure, Republicans in Washington have some serious work cut out, with an 18% gap to make up.

In Oregon, things are closer but not really close: Democrats 49%, Republicans 41%, independents 12%. (Oregon has one of the higher independent percentages in the country.)

In Idaho, as you might expect, things are reversed – very much so. Washington is the 12th most Democratic state (in this survey) among the 50, and Oregon ranks 24th – smack in the middle. But Idaho is the second most Republican state in the union, behind only Utah. In the Gem State, 54% call themselves Republicans, 35% Democrats and 11% independent – an almost perfect mirror image of Washington.

If Washington is becoming a mirror image of Idaho . . . well, we’ll go there another time. But if true, then the current Democratic domination of the legislature, for one thing, may not be a short-term phenomenon.

(See also the analysis of the polling on the MyDD site.)

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Idaho Oregon Washington

Reflect for a moment on what you know about the patterns of growth in Oregon, and then consider these numbers, included in the annual report on school enrollment issued by the superintendent of public instruction. The numbers reflect 2006-07 enrollment figures for the 10 biggest school districts in Oregon, and how they changed from 2005-06.

1. Portland 46,348 (-1.4%)
2. Salem-Keizer 39,585 (+1.7%)
3. Beaverton 37,719 (+2.9%)
4. Hillsboro 20,077 (+1.8%)
5. Eugene 18,312 (-0.7%)
6. Bend-LaPine 17,436 (+2.6%)
7. North Clackamas 16,987 (+2.7%)
8. Tigard-Tualatin 12,544 (+1.6%)
9. Medford 12,465 (-0.6%)
10. Gresham-Barlow 12,053 (+0.2%)

In the main, not far off from what you might expect. We know (have known for some time; it’s been the topic of headlines) that Portland’s under-18 population is diminishing, at least as a percentage of the total. The parallels in Eugene and Medford are intriguing, though.

It’s the Bend number that really catches our attention. By all accounts Deschutes County is the wild-growth part of the state. Portland’s suburbs may be adding people, and maybe more people in raw numbers, but Bend’s overall percentage growth has been much higher.

Not among kids. Note that Beaverton and North Clackamas both register higher increases in student population. Children are coming to Bend, of course; but is this an indicator of Bend more generally as an adult – maybe senior – hangout?

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Oregon

One more reminder about something new here: Chats, tentatively dubbed “Wednesday Wanderings,” with your scribe and a co-host, Idaho pollster Greg Smith. All are welcome to join in. The time is 6 p.m. Pacific, 7 p.m. Mountain time. Topics Northwestern will be fair game.

To send, come to this page and then look down the right-hand column to a box asking you to fill in a nickname. You can use your real name (preferred) or something else (allowed). Click on “enter chat,” and you’re on. Type your comments in the box at the bottom of the page.

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