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Posts published in “Day: May 20, 2008”

Obama over the pledged top

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

There was a little color detail tucked into an Oregonian story about the presidential campaigning around Portland on Sunday: Former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea were there at a couple of events for Senator Hillary Clinton, and near midday they stopped into a downtown eatery called Mother's Bistro. (We've dined there, and it was a good choice.) Only problem was, Mother's is located just a few blocks from the waterfront park where Senator Barack Obama was about to deliver his rally speech. This was the famous rally where he drew about 75,000 people. Meaning that the Clintons had to wade through crowds of people headed for the Obama rally as they made their way through downtown . . . what an experience that must have been . . .

But it seems a reasonable metaphor for what just about everyone expected out of Oregon this evening: A decisive Obama win, at about 58% roughly on the button of what we had thought likely. And enough, more than enough, to send the Illinois senator over the majority of pledged convention delegates.

Oregon was never likely to be a Clinton state, unlike same-timed Kentucky, on the opposing pole. But a strong Obama organization probably kicked up the numbers a little.

The map of the results explains a bit of why. (These percentages reflect 78% of the vote in.) Obama did best in the metro regions of the state - in fact, he took almost all of the most populous counties: Multnomah (a whopping 64%), Washington (57%), Clackamas (53%), Lane (62%), Marion (52%), Jackson (59%), Deschutes ( 60%), Yamhill (52%), Benton (69%). The major population-center exception was Linn County (the Albany area), which he barely lost.

Clinton won a string of counties too, but they were nearly all rural, and most of them are relatively remote. Her best in the state (among the 34 reporting so far) is lightly populated Morrow County (60%); other counties she won include Malheur, Lake, Harney, Grant, Umatilla, Klamath. The biggest county she won was Douglas (the Roseburg area), which is very rural, and much of it quite remote from any urban area. Tillamook County (which narrowly went for Clinton) sort of fits the mold too.

Having said that, here are some of the other counties Obama won: Curry, te very remote county at the far southwest of the state; Wallowa, very remote at the far northeast, and Grant County in the middle of the state, a truly rural and out of the way stretch.

These patterns will be worth kicking around again in the days ahead.

OR Sen D: Close, and not

Say first that the numbers overall in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary were in fact fairly close. Prognosticators around Oregon split deeply in calling this race - it was a tough call - and with two-thirds of the vote out, you have House Speaker Jeff Merkley at 45% and attorney Steve Novick 41%, a gap (at this writing) of about 18,000 votes out of around 400,000 votes cast. Considering the organizational and structural advantages Merkley had, Novick's race was remarkable: He turned a longshot into a near-win.

You have to notice something else too, though.

With just two counties not yet reporting ballots (two of the state's smallest, Wheeler and Gilliam), a geographic pattern of wins has emerged, and it is stark. The race was fairly tight mainly, specifically, because of Multnomah County, where at present Novick has an edge of about 11,500 votes. In the whole rest of the state (excluding, again, those two late counties) Novick won just two counties, Benton (46%-43%) and Clatsop (where he leads by 19 votes - that county realistically still is too close to call). Novick had the serious Portland appeal, but elsewhere Merkley sold better. And it wouldn't have been just the TV ads: He won decisively too in the rural counties where those ads were less seen.

OR H5: What didn’t work

Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson

Kevin Mannix

Kevin Mannix

The Republican Party's leadership and many of its key activists, and the establishment for that matter seemed aligned in the hot primary contest in the Oregon 5th House district: The man was Kevin Mannix, he of legislative background and two failed governor's and AG's races - he was the guy who would win that 5th District U.S. House seat back for Republicans, specifically recruited by party insiders. Never mind that, months before, 2006 nominee Mike Erickson was already running and geared for a rematch - that was just an annoying detail. Mannix was gonna be the guy - he was far and away the Republicans' best shot at the seat. Just about all the visible Republicans seemed to say so.

They evidently didn't fully get the message on down to the Republican Party voters, who were buffeted wildly in this race. First came a ferocious series of attack ads from Erickson aimed at Mannix. Then came a single, fiercely explosive shot by Mannix at Erickson - the release of the abortion/cocaine email. The prevailing view in recent days seemed to be that Mannix was surviving all this better than Erickson.

A suggestion here on why he didn't, why Erickson seems on the way to crushing hat may have been Mannix' last hurrah, based on this principle: If you launch an attack, you're far more likely to succeed if your credibility is already much higher than your opponent's.

It is true that Erickson's cred suffered in the 2006 race, when Democratic incumbent Darlene Hooley (in response to some fierce Erickson ads at that time) unleashed the hounds of hell back at him. But that was a Democrat's attacks, so for Republican primary voters, they sort of might not count; besides, that was two years ago. And Mannix has had enough negative headlines in recent years that voters were conditioned to believe bad things (never mind that the recent run of ads were pretty dishonest, even if not technically inaccurate) about him. And the added worry: The guy had lost four major races in a row. Was he really - the Republican establishment notwithstanding - the right guy to carry the banner? Or so might have gone the thinking . . .

This was the specific corner of Oregon that Mannix was supposed to extremely well in, especially in his long-time home turf of Marion County (the Salem area). But with about two-thirds of the vote in, Mannix was leading, narrowly, in only one of the district's seven counties, the slice of Benton County; he was losing even his home base of Marion.

Two conclusions here.

One is that this probably was, indeed, Mannix' last hurrah. Yeah, many thought so after the last gubernatorial, but this was supposed to the race tailor-made for him. Where could he go from here?

The other is that Democrats' odds of holding this seat have just improved drastically. Those odds probably were somewhere around even a month ago, before the bomb-throwing on the Republican side. As of now, with state Senator Kurt Schrader easily cruising to an uncontroversial win after having expended little money and no blood, facing a Republican severely damaged and despised by much of his own party's establishment - key spokesmen having recently called on Erickson to drop out of the race - this contest abruptly, for the general, leans Democratic.

The statewides

And we thought the two statewide contests - for attorney general and seretary of state - were going to be tighter than this. As the numbers come in, they aren't looking very close at all.

We thinly thought state Representative Greg Macpherson would emerge a little ahead, though the back-and-forth in the last few weeks seem to have damaged him. Definitely seem to have damaged him: Law professor John Kroger seems to be emerging (with more than a quarter of the vote in) with a not overwhelming but a decisive win. Chalk one for the conventional wisdom (this being one of the few places where we departed from it). A possible secondary factor: Kroger ran as a boat-rocker and Macpherson didn't; and this looks like a boat-rocking year.

But if so, how to explain the sweeping Kate Brown win in the secretary of state's race? She seems to be headed toward an outright majority win in a race with three major and strong contenders, racking up about twice the vote for fellow Senator Rick Metsger and around three times that of Senator Vicki Walker. The money for marketing undoubtedly helped, but that doesn't seem likely to be the only factor. Of the three, Walker was the one who was out to seriously rattle cages, while Brown focused more on capable administration and broadly-based issues.

These two contests pulled in different directions. So what will that say for the rest of the ballot?

The numbers race

The other Oregon contest this evening is, of course, who reports reports the election results fastest. So - now as the polls close and the numbers await release - we'll keep a look by way of checking on various sources.

Wil be updating. Among those checked will be the secretary of state's office (unofficial numbers), KGW-TV (which will draw from the Associated Press), the Oregonian (do they have a chart up or are we missing it?) and nationally at Talking Points Memo.

Back soon.

UPDATE The sec state's numbers were up fairly fast, but they accumulated faster at KGW - and in the presidential (not in the other contests) faster yet at Talking Points Memo, which was first to report past the 50% mark.

UPDATE 2 Once the Oregonian chart was up, it was quick and delightfully thorough. And they had a good early call in the 5th District Republican contest. 50 minutes in, this has become the best place to check for details.