Rep. Knute Buehler this week posted a message on his facebook page calling for an independent investigation of President Trump:
As a Republican, I feel a special obligation to speak-out against the actions of the President of my Party – even a candidate I didn’t support.
He also revealed that he didn’t vote for Trump in November
It’s no secret that while President Trump ran as a Republican, he was never this Republican’s choice for President (I wrote-in Ohio Governor John Kasich).
While the majority of commentators were Republicans who criticized Rep. Buehler a large number also applauded him for speaking out. But here’s why Rep. Buehler’s position will ultimataly pay off.
Take a look at this poll that we ran last week, and remember, Oregon as a whole is a safe Democratic state.
If our poll results are accurate, then Rep. Buehler could lose 30% of self identified Republicans. While the Republican vote statewide runs around 43%, that includes both Republican party members (about 29% of all voters) and Republicanh leaning non affiliated and independent voters who make up another 13-15%.
It seems unlikely that 30% of Republican leaners would refuse to vote for Dr. Buehler because of charges of being a RINO. And in any event, those Republicans who do refuse to support a non conservative Republican certainly aren’t going to vote for Kate Brown. And the fact is, regardless of a conservatives vow to not support a RINO, are they really going to skip the Governor race if the polls show Buehler and Brown neck and neck? I don’t think so.
So yes, Buehler will lose some voters, perhaps 30% of the Republican membership. Lets call these “skippers”. That means that rather than starting out with 43% of the vote (Republicans and leaners), he starts out with 33%. But, by sitting out the race, that 10% doesn’t move into the Brown column, they just skipped it. So Brown still has a starting point of 57%.
How many Democrats and Democratic leaners will Buehler gain?
The poll results showed that 57% of Democrats – which also likely includes registered Democrats and Democratic leaners – could support a “liberal” Republican in a safe Democratic district. That means 32% of all Oregon voters are Democrats or Democratic leaners who could vote for a “liberal” Republican. I call these voters “switchers” Because they aren’t likely to skip the race.
That was a lot higher than I expected, and shows the extent of the unhappiness with the people that responded to the poll.
The real significance of these Democrats and Democratic leaners is that because they are more likely switchers than skippers The value of their vote to Rep. Buehler (or any liberal Republican in a blue district) doubles because for every vote Buehler gains, Brown loses a vote.
Lets assume my poll overestimated the number of switchers in a Buehler / Brown race. What if Democratic switchers is merely equal to Republican skippers.
First, just taking into account skippers but not switchers, Brown starts at 57% and Buehler at 33% and 10% are skippers. (I realize there is no way to vote to skip, but I use the 10% as a placeholder. The winner of a Buehler /Brown race where 10% are skippers is therefore 45% plus 1.)
If the switchers are also 10%, then Brown’s share is reduced to 47% while Buehler gains that 10% and his total share climbs to 43%. Now we’ve got a race. And that’s assuming a rate of switchers only 1/3 of what our polling indicated.
If we were to assume a 12% rate of switchers – still much less than the 32% predicted in the poll, the final vote would be Brown 45%, Buehler 45% and skippers 10%.
Now what happens when those skippers realize that in the race for Oregon Governor, Republican Buehler and the Democratic Brown are in a dead heat two weeks before the election.
If Rep. Buehlers statement regarding President Trump is a gamble, it’s a pretty good one. In fact, it’s the only path to a Republican win against Governor Brown.