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OR: 49 up, 50 down

The conventional wisdom has held, on Oregon’s two big ballot issues (49 on land use, 50 on tobacco tax/child health insurance). We haven’t seen complete statewide numbers yet, but the figures from the Portland metro (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas) are clear enough to tell the tale: 49 is passing, easily, and 50 is failing, though by how much is still unclear.

A big win on 49 has been foreshadowed for some time. 50 was wide reputed to be close, with the weight of opinion, generally including ours, that it would go down. Over the last week we began modifying that, partly out of a thought that a really strong yes vote on 49 might add to the 50-yes tally, and partly out of speculation – really no more than that – that the tobacco-industry-backed TV campaign against it might have been too much, and might backfire. (That’s not a complete flyer: Last year just that happened in a couple of Washington state elections.) So in the last few days, we uneasily leaned that way.

But the affirmative campaign on 50 seemed too weak, and voters in Oregon as most places need a strong argument to make a change. They got it with the strong 49 campaign, but not on 50. What they got on 50 was not really a strong argument against, but enough generated doubt to block its passage.

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