The entry of independent John Frohnmayer into the Oregon Senate race will have an effect - to some degree, in some way. But how much, and what kind of effect?
He has backers who do seem to think that a well-regarded independent might win a Senate seat these days - that both political parties are so thoroughly discredited that could happen. As a matter of theory, sure; but the circumstances have to be really special, and real independents are scarce in the winner's box. The U.S. Senate has two independents at present, but one is a virtual Democrat, and the other is a virtual Republican. Frohnmayer seems to be earnestly trying to be neither.
We suspect the push to seriously shake up the two big parties today (and we have some sympathy with the idea) is going to have to wait: The stakes over control of power in Washington in this decade simply are too high. Not many Republicans or Democrats or even many independents are in much mood to experiment. Our guess would be that - because of this, not his personal qualities or positions - Frohnmayer's vote may be on the slim side. (We think it's also one of the reasons that, last year, Ben Westlund's independent campaign seemed to hit a low ceiling in the polls.)