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Oregon on the cusp

The excellent New York Times Five Thirty-Eight blog (there’s hardly any more fun reading for those into presidential political statistics) has a piece out on Oregon, taking a look at its presidential voting proclivities. And coming up with an interesting idea:

“Mr. Obama’s 16-percentage-point margin of victory in Oregon in 2008 was very much out of character for the state. It was the largest win there by a presidential candidate in more than four decades. In 2004, Senator John Kerry won Oregon by four percentage points. In 2000, Al Gore eked out a win there by less than 7,000 votes. Oregon’s electoral trajectory is actually very similar to the arc Wisconsin has followed. The two states both sit right on the cusp of competitive and safely Democratic states.”

That feels about right. The Obama 2008 numbers were unusual. And the Democratic lead in voter registration, massive in 2008, has retreated a bit since.

The idea isn’t that Republican Mitt Romney has a substantial chance of winning Oregon. (He hasn’t been contesting it, and neither has Barack Obama.) But the gap between the two, in a state where the legislature is almost perfectly split between the parties and the governor had an extremely tight contest in 2010, is apt to be smaller this time.

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