Writings and observations

This site would be remiss, as a reporter on politics in the Northwest, not to take note of the decision of at least one major campaign to bounce two bloggers from a press conference.

Goldy of Horse’s Ass (one of the bouncees, from a Republican Dino Rossi press conference) on the point involved: “we are a legitimate part of the media, and it is in the public interest that we be treated that way. For as more and more traditional media moves online while blogs like mine expand the quantity and quality of our coverage, the line between the two will continue to blur, making any effort to ghettoize mere bloggers nothing more than a convenient excuse to deny access to journalists who produce unflattering coverage.”

Horse’s Ass is an explicitly liberal/Democratic site, but it also produces a lot of useful, original information – dare we say original reporting. It is as useful a political site (as long as you remember where it’s coming from) as any in the region, including the large corporate variety.

Our guess is that this sort of bouncing will be happening less and less in future cycles.

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Washington

The Idaho Democratic Party sometimes has to grab on to whatever slices of good news it can find, even if the news doesn’t objective look all that great. (You do what you have to.) But this is of interest for non-obvious reasons:

A party article by Julie Fanselow highlighting county commission candidates around the state, “42 Idahoans running for county commission seats as Democrats this fall, an unusually high number.”

On one level, that’s an admission of a problem, since in any given general election year, 88 county commission seats are up for election in Idaho’s 44 counties. Democrats are contesting fewer than half of those seats; the rest will be snapped up by unopposed or virtually unopposed Republicans (apart from maybe one or two independents). And of the 42, just 15 are incumbents, an indication of how lightly represented Democrats are at the courthouses.

There is another way to look at this, though. Let’s run through recent election history and see how Democrats have done earlier this decade in Idaho county races.

bullet 2000. In this presidential year, when Democrats lost a number of relatively high-profile incumbents at the courthouses, the election record shows 39 Democratic candidates for commission seats. Of them, 12 – fewer than a third – won.

bullet 2002. A slightly more Democratic year, but not by much, saw Democrats nominating 36 candidates to the commission. That number was down a little, but their wins rose to 17, close to half.

bullet 2004. Another rough presidential year for Idaho Democrats, nominating just 31 for commission seats (a low in recent times). Still, 16 of them won, more than half this time.

bullet 2006. Democrats filled their candidate slate this time to 35 (again, out of 88 total seats). Not a great ballot presence, but the win-loss ratio was little noted: Democrats won 24 of those races, more than two-thirds.

There could be something of a pattern here.

These races are not all created equal. The Democrats in Benewah County, for example (where Democrats have held two or three of the commission seats for many decades), are simply a conservative group who have little to do with Couer d’Alene or Boise Democrats. (One of those Benewah Democrats is Republican Representative Bill Sali’s highest-profile Democratic endorser.) But taken as a whole, they’re a bit of an indicator.

How many seats do they win this time with 42 candidates? It’ll be another number to watch on Tuesday.

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Idaho

The early indications of a Democratic blowout in Oregon on Tuesday are there in ballot numbers that have been released so far. Not votes, of course: Those won’t be out until Tuesday night. But we do know now how the early voting is going for the two parties according to returns by registrants of each party. And those numbers are clear.

One comparison already pretty widely noted is that registered Democrats – of whom there are about 220,000 more in Oregon than Republicans – have been turning in their ballots at a faster clip than registered Republicans, 49% to 41%. (If the rates were even, that would still be a big Democratic advantage, given their higher registration numbers.)

Not only that, the Democrats have outpaced Republicans in ballot returns so far in all of Oregon’s 36 counties.

ballot return advantage But in looking at the Thursday afternoon ballot numbers (helpfully posted on Jeff Mapes’ Oregonian blog) you can also work out how some of the voting may go, to the extent that registration matches up with voting patterns, based on the raw numbers of ballots submitted. That’s not (as TorridJoe notes in his Loaded Lrygun post on the returns) the same as rate of returns, since counties have varying portions of registered Ds and Rs. (The map shows which counties have generated so far more Democratic than Republican ballots in raw numbers.)

A cautionary note: There are ancestral party registrations, people who have been registered with one party or other for a long time but have in practice migrated over to the other. And you also have to factor in the nonaligneds, and independents (who between them have leaned Democratic in the last few cycles).

Still.

You have here places like Clackamas County, the third largest in Oregon (Portland suburban) which broke narrowly for George Bush in 2004; as of Thurday it has returned about 45,000 Democratic ballots to 32,000 Republican. Deschutes County (Bend), very strongly Republican for – well, always – so far has returned more Democratic ballots than Republican, 16,648 to 15,660. Yamhill County, traditionally Republican, is running 8,320 Democratic ballots to 7,163. Polk County (Dallas), even more Republican traditionally, is at 7,716 Democratic to 6,753 Republican. Jackson County (Medford/Ashland), the anchor of southwest Oregon and long a Republican stalwart, is at 23,142 Democratic to 19,745 Republican – in a county with a 2300 or so Republican registration advantage. Marion County, Republican for ages (until a registration flip a few months ago), is at 27,850 Democratic to 22,842 Republican, in a county where the Democratic advantage still is only slight.

You can imagine what the Democratic counties look like – running near 4-1 in Democratic ballots in Multnomah (Portland), nearly 2-1 in Hood River, about the same in Clatsop, and more than 2-1 in Benton.

Some of this, of course, may be reflective of enthusiasm and better Democratic efforts to get out early votes. But is there any reason to think the trend is just going to hit a wall in the next three days?

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Oregon