September 27, 2004


Kerry Can't Take Oregon for Granted (Sam Howe Verhovek, September 27, 2004, LA Times)

Democrats have not lost a presidential election in Oregon since Ronald Reagan's landslide reelection two decades ago. And it would seem relatively safe territory for Sen. John F. Kerry: Anti-Iraq war sentiment runs strong here, and the state has had the nation's highest unemployment rate for parts of President Bush's term.

Yet the double-digit lead Kerry rode in polls here earlier this summer has narrowed sharply, reflecting his general slide in national polls but also the unease many Oregonians express about Kerry's credentials as a commander in chief.

Now, just a month after Kerry drew 40,000 to a boisterous waterfront rally in Portland, Oregon's seven electoral votes are in play. The Democrat will have to spend time and money to hold onto this state, which Al Gore narrowly won in 2000. And based on the nationwide political landscape, carrying Oregon appears vital to Kerry's presidential hopes.

Bush's Oregon prospects could get a boost from a conservative turnout for a ballot measure that would amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage. Current polls indicate the initiative is headed for passage by a wide margin. [...]

Of the four most recent statewide polls, two showed Kerry with a modest lead, one put Bush up slightly, and the fourth had the race at a statistical tie.

"I think overall, Kerry has a lead here, but it's precarious, and he's going to have to work to keep it," said Bill Lunch, the political science department chairman at Oregon State University in Corvallis and a radio analyst for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

OR is the kind of state that would seem a better target for the Bush campaign than NJ because they might pick up House seats and Ron Wyden's Senate seat behind a strong enough showing for the President and the turnout for the ballot measure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2004 8:41 AM

I haven't seen anything suggesting that Wyden is in trouble. The gay marriage initiative could definitely help swing OR to Bush. WA and CA are next door but seem to be longer shots (especially CA). Right Bush's best shots seem to be the upper midwest (MN, WI, IA) and PA for states to steal from Kerry.

Posted by: AWW at September 27, 2004 8:58 AM

There are also no indications that Frank Church, George McGovern and Birch Bayh are in trouble.

Posted by: oj at September 27, 2004 9:10 AM

I've been spending some time at this site, an electoral college projection from a lefty bias. Right now it is showing Bush winning with 280 evs, even though it gives Florida and Pennsylvania to Kerry and has New Hampshire and Minnesotta tied.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 27, 2004 9:22 AM

Didn't Wyden vote against Porter Goss? Seems like this would be a dangerous thing to do right before an election in the age of the security-mom (don't they have soccer playing kids anymore?)...

Posted by: brian at September 27, 2004 1:39 PM