"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

A useful read on the recent run of three polls in Oregon on the governor and Senate races in Blue Oregon, speculating on an interesting distinction in the polling for those two offices.

The post notes that polling for the governor’s race has been fairly consistent – the three polls (by SurveyUSA, Rasmussen and Davis Hibbitts & Midgehall) all show a close race between the two contenders, Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley.

In the Senate race, though, the pollsters diverged more widely. All gave leads to incumbent Senator Ron Wyden over Republican Jim Huffman, but the leads amounted to 10%, 13% and 30% – a big gap.

In the post, Jeff Alworth suggests: “Polls are useful only to the extent that they can predict who will turn out for an election. What I see here is the result of weighting for anti-incumbent votes. . . . But apparently, pollsters are giving a lot of credence to the anti-incumbent theory. You don’t see the same effect in the Dudley-Kitzhaber race because neither is an incumbent.”

Once, the idea in polling was that you randomly contact people and then report what they say. Over time, in recent years, that has changed: Now results are weighted and adjusted, depending on what factors the pollster thinks happen to be relevant. (Weighting in national polls for party identification has become SOP.)

Hmm. Along with the changes in technology (the old call-em on land lines approach just ain’t cutting it the way it used to), you have to wonder just how valid any of these polls are.

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The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement was one of those political creatures entirely beloved by hardly anyone – a little ungainly, something that gave a little here to get a little there. It’s what’s known among pragmatic people as a compromise.

The question came up this week, in effect, at the Klamath Falls City Council: Do we endorse a compromise or insist on our way/highway? The upshot of the latter, of course, would be more fighting of the sort that’s kept the area in uproar over water issues for a decade and more.

It was a seriously considered question, though. The council was working on the city budget, and the proposed budget had in it $22,100 which would go to three economic development groups. Those groups had been in support of the agreement.

News reports noted that “Council member Bill Adams voted against the budget, saying if he is going to support somebody, he wants them to have the same views he has.”

He was outvoted. But therein lies a glimpse of why the Klamath has been in such a mess for so long.

Read more:

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The census city estimates for 2009 for cities nationwide were released today; they’re always worth a good ponder. A note: These are not the official decade census numbers – only the annual estimates.)

Nationally, the city of Seattle now ranks at 23, Portland at 30, Boise at 100, Spokane at 104, Tacoma at 108, Vancouver at 143, Salem at 150, Eugene at 155.

Of the 19,510 places on the census list, the smallest in the Northwest (ranking 19,480 nationally) is Warm River, Idaho, with 10 people. (Yes, it is an incorporated city.) Next smallest is Hamer, Idaho, with 12.

Most of the key rankings of cities within states aren’t much disturbed. In Washington, it remains Seattle-Spokane-Tacoma (though the latter two remain close, and the estimate said that Tacoma was growing about twice as fast as Spokane). In Oregon, it’s Portland-Salem-Eugene (with Salem gently expanding that thin lead over Eugene). In Idaho, it remains Boise-Nampa-Meridian, with Meridian becoming much the fastest-growing city in raw numbers in the state, adding people much faster than Boise. Also in Idaho, the number 4 or 5 spots switch, with Idaho Falls regaining its occasional lead over Pocatello.

Those spots are of some interest in Oregon, too. Gresham remained fourth and Hillsboro fifth, but Hillsboro is growing a lot faster. In the 2000 census, Gresham had about 20,000 more people; now that lead has been cut by about three-fourths.

There are, of course, population losers as well as outright gainers. The largest city in the Northwest reported to lose population over the year was Bremerton (35,191), down 95 people over the year and still below the 2000 census numbers. Next largest was Grants Pass (32,829), off by 14 in the year but still considerably above the 2000 numbers. The next two largest were also in Oregon – Roseburg and Klamath Falls. (Southwest Oregon has taken a hit.) The largest in Idaho was Mountain Home (12,266) though that may have to do more with the shifts of military activities at its base. Next largest in Idaho was the (now) Boise bedroom community of Emmett, off by 27; maybe the recession had some impact here.

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Plagiarism is easier to detect these days than it once was, what with search engines and even web sites designed to match texts. KTVB-TV in Boise did a fine job of using that technology to take one more look at the controversial case of the congressional announcement speech by Vaughn Ward, who lost the Republican primary last month in Idaho’s 1st district.

The original controversy centered on the similarity of a relatively few lines in the speech to one several years ago by Barack Obama. But much more of it, apparently, comes wholesale from a speech by a Republican Pennsylvania congressional candidate. Asked about the speech, Ward’s former campaign manager said the speech was “outsourced.”

Like a college kid buying a term paper? So it would seem. Maybe there’s something to this call for “authenticity” in politics.

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weekly Digest

Business and economic news dominated our Washington, Idaho and Oregon Public Affairs Digests this week, as unemployment statistics and employee pay numbers stabilizing or jogged upward. Another significant piece of news for Northwest transportation and economic development: Major changes in air routes for Horizon Airlines, with significant cuts in a number of the smaller Northwest markets they serve.

There were significant legal decisions, including one in Oregon relating to medical marijuana users who seek concealed weapons permits; in Idaho, a legislator is considering introducing a medical marijuana bill in the 2011 session. Idaho also reports meth use down.

As a reminder: We’re now publishing weekly editions of the Public Affairs Digests – for Idaho, Washington and Oregon – moving from a monthly to a weekly rundown of what’s happening. And we’re taking it all-electronic: The print edition will be moving to e-mail.

That means we can include more information, and get it out a lot faster: The weekly Digests will be in your in-box first thing Monday morning. If you subscribe, of course: That’s $59 a year, for 50 issues and the yearbook. Yes, including the yearbook. The Idaho Yearbook, which we published for years up to 2002, will return early in 2011 – in printed book form – and Digest subscribers get it for free with their subscription. And the Oregon and Washington yearbooks will be coming out at the same time.

If you’d like to take a look at one of the new weekly Digests, here’s a link to the Idaho edition, to the Oregon edition and to the Washington edition. If you’d like to subscribe, here are the links (through to PayPal) for Idaho, for Oregon and for Washington.

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Cashmere World site

File this in the efforts-at-new-news-media directory . . .

Around the Northwest, there are several web sites aimed at becoming news web sites for local communities that once but no longer have print newspapers. Orting, Washington and Shoshone, Idaho are two that come to mind.

These have been sprouted by local people, sometimes those displaced by the closing of the local paper. But now comes one backed and sponsored by a daily newspaper, aimed at one of its readership-area, nearby communities.

The paper is the Wenatchee World, and the site is the Cashmere World; the town of Cashmere is about eight miles northwest of Wenatchee. It’s not a blog; it’s more like a newspaper web site. There are news stories, conventional stories, mainly on business and sports.

The paper describes it roughly: “This pilot project is Cashmere’s new community website, with the aim of helping Cashmere residents develop their own news and features about their town, their schools, their individuals and businesses. We have been discussing this with community members for some time, and held a training session for the writing of news. This program is not intended for bloggers’ comments.”

Will it work out and provide a model for other papers?

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Jim Huffman

You’d think you’d want to pause for just a moment before jumping to the defense, these days, of British Petroleum. But Oregon Senate candidate Jim Huffman, the Republican nominee (against incumbent Democrat Ron Wyden), does just that. (Hat tip here to Blue Oregon.)

In a report in the Medford Mail Tribune, Huffman said that the federal government ought not be “a dominant player in our lives,” and beyond that “the federal government can’t solve any problem.”

And: “Funding bike paths, taking over General Motors and telling BP to pony up $20 billion to a fund that the president will hand out — these don’t fit the enumerated powers of the government in the Constitution.”

So if a BP virtually destroys vast stretches of our common property, just who is it that should deal with the situation? And is he really arguing that the federal government never has solved a problem – that it cannot? If that’s the case, why is he bothering running for office in an organization so completely pernicious when it’s not ineffective? Why waste your time?

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Curious at all about who in the Northwest political sphere that British Petroleum – they of the endless Gulf oil spout – consider their friends?

You can probably make some assessment through looking at whose campaigns they have contributed to.

In the current cycle, according to the invaluable Open Secrets.org: Doc Hastings, R-WA6 ($1,000); Rick Larsen, D-WA2 ($1,000); Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA5 ($1,000); Greg Walden, R-OR2 ($1,000).

In the 2008 cycle, you get these: Larsen ($2,000), McMorris Rodgers ($1,000), Walden ($1,000), Jay Inslee, D-WA1 ($1,000), and former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith ($2,000). No one in the Idaho delegation in either cycle.

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The Seattle Times questioning whether Dino Rossi is really even interested in the Senate campaign? It did in an article today, following up with this:

“Since declaring his candidacy May 27, Rossi has scheduled few press events, skipped some chances to debate his GOP rivals and kept his campaign web site practically devoid of content. Meanwhile, he has found time to speak at real-estate seminars teaching investors how to make a profit off buying and selling foreclosures.”

That latter point has been happily seized on by Democrats, and may have left some Republicans wondering – why would he do it? Why go so far out of your way to deliver the opposition a talking point?

Another point in the article, about Rossi’s no-showing at events this season aimed at Republicans, may be more telling.

One such event is slated for this evening, directed toward Tea Party enthusiasts and other conservatives, and is expected to draw the other two significant Republican contenders, Clint Didier and Paul Akers. Rossi’s response to his nonappearances has run like this: “There is no Republican primary. There is no Democratic primary any more. It’s been wiped out,” Rossi said. “I would like to be in situations where I can compare and contrast with Patty Murray.”

On a formal level Rossi is, of course, correct: The August primary will not decide party nominees, only a top two, and Rossi is highly likely to clear that bar.

On a more pragmatic level, though, Rossi seems to be kissing off the people in his own party – the most activist segment of it – who have been arguing that people like Didier or Akers are the real conservatives and Rossi just an establishment RINO. Rossi will need those activists in November, more than he will in August, and he’s not been laying down much ground work for developing them into a loyal base. Call that a factor in the eventual Murray-Rossi contest.

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So is the race in Oregon’s House 1, between incumbent Democrat David Wu and Republican Rob Cornilles, heating up?

Chris Cillizza’s Fix at Washington Post certainly advances the possibility: “Oregon Democratic Rep. David Wu is among the more unlikely GOP targets but a new internal poll for his opponent’s campaign suggests he might be in a real face this fall. Wu takes 46 percent to 40 percent for sports business consultant Rob Cornilles in the Moore Information survey, which was obtained by the Fix …”

Obtained, presumably, from the Republican sources Cornilles’ campaign is closely tied to. Cornilles, unlike some other Republican primary contenders around the country (see Vaughn Ward in Idaho, for example) was very much the preferred choice of the national Republican establishment, and he has a solid campaign staff (including some Oregon-experienced staff) with significant Beltway links. For a Cornilles-run internal poll (which it was) to take substantial mention in the Post or National Journal isn’t especially unusual. (It does indicate a campaign staff alert to pushing all the buttons it can.)

That said, the results in themselves should be treated, as intentionally released campaign-generated numbers always ought to be, with deep caution. The sense here is that Cornilles is further back than he seems to be; Wu has for a decade now been regularly described an advance of elections as more vulnerable than he turns out to be, even in years of bad headlines, which this one isn’t. The appearance of the numbers, though, does say this: The Cornilles people are working, and if a large enough anti-incumbency opening does appear, they’re positioning themselves to take advantage of it.

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A great resource for visualizing where people in the Northwest are coming from and where they’re going: A map on Forbes.com generated from Internal Revenue Service Data. county by county, it shows where people around the country are arriving from, and where they’re headed.

Click on Multnomah County, and you can see where people in Portland are coming from (mainly California and the Washington/New York pole), if you can work through the heavy run of stats (represented here by black and red lines). But some of the most interesting bits are in the smaller counties. Idaho County, Idaho, for example, sends people to other nearby rural counties but draws them from more urban places, notably the Boise area.

Lots to play with here. (Hat tip to Jack Bog’s Blog.)

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Not entirely by way of defense of the two women who were not behaving ideally in their interaction with a Seattle police officer . . . but is this really what a Seattle police union rep really ought to be suggesting about the officer in this incident – wherein he slugged an apparently unarmed woman – in this video:

“He did nothing wrong. If anything, I think he maybe waited a little too long to engage in force because I think he was trying to defuse the situation and calm people down . . .”

Seattle is lucky a riot didn’t erupt then and there. Historically, riots have been sparks by just such incidents . . . even when not caught on video.

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