Oregon Poll: Conservatives beat liberals. Independents not independent

Moore Information Poll
More Liberal than U.S.A. Voters: Are Independents Really Independent?
A recent analysis of the Oregon electorate from a compilation of polls conducted between September 28 and November 2, 2008 shows the Oregon electorate leans left, compared to the national electorate:

In polling, voters are given an opportunity to describe themselves as Conservative, Moderate or Liberal as a way to associate them with a particular set of beliefs. While these labels have many meanings in society today, they are often a useful indicator in polling as to how voters regard and react to issues and candidates.

Compared with national exit polls on ideology, Oregonians are more likely to consider themselves Liberal than voters nationwide (28% Liberal in Oregon, 22% nationwide), and less likely to describe themselves as “Moderate” (32% in Oregon, 44% nationwide). The percentage describing themselves as “Conservative” are consistent (34% Conservative in Oregon and nationwide).

Voter Ideology — Oregon vs. U.S.A.“If you had to label yourself, would you say you are a Liberal, Moderate or Conservative in your political beliefs?”

The Geographic Divide

The Oregon electorate is very typical of most states in that urban centers (Multnomah County/Portland) are the bastions of liberalism. In fact, nearly half of Multnomah County voters define themselves as Liberals (46%). The Portland suburbs (Clackamas and Washington Counties) are a mixed bag ideologically, while Southern, Eastern and Coastal Oregonians are more likely to affiliate themselves with the Conservative label.

Philosophical Differences by Party

The analysis of voter ideology gets interesting when we look at the correlation between voter party registration, and personal political philosophy. For example, Republicans (32% of the state’s registered voters) are philosophically cohesive, with fully 71% of Oregon GOPs describing themselves as “Conservative.” Democrats (43% of the state’s registered voters), on the other hand, while clearly leaning left of center (49% describe themselves as “Liberal”), are more willing to linger in the middle, as 35% of Democrats describe themselves as “Moderate.” Oregon’s non-affiliated/Independent voters (25% of the electorate) are most likely to consider themselves Moderate, and the remaining Independents are divided between the Liberal and Conservative labels.

Age and Gender

Beyond the correlations between voters’ partisanship and ideology, there are also some trends in voter philosophy by age and gender. Younger men and women (age 18-44) are more likely to affiliate with the Liberal label, while older men are more likely to find themselves in the center or right of center, and older women are only slightly more likely to align themselves with the Conservative label than the Moderate or Liberal ideologies.

Oregon’s Independents Aren’t so Independent After All

Whether they are registered as Republican or Democrat, Oregon’s partisans stick closely to their respective parties when it comes time to cast their ballots. Specifically, 74% of registered Republicans say they vote Republican (53% usually vote Republican, 20% always vote Republican), while 75% of registered Democrats say they vote Democrat (53% usually vote Democrat, 22% always vote Democrat). Independent voters, however, behave much more like Democrats when it comes to their actual voting behavior – 33% of Independent voters in the state say they truly do “split” the ticket more often than not, but the balance is heavily weighted to Democrats, as 34% say they usually vote for Democrats, while only 18% usually vote for Republicans.

Looking more closely at the voting behavior of Independents, we uncover several notable findings. In Multnomah County, the Independents behave largely as Democrats when it comes to voting, with the majority voting for “mostly or only” Democrats (54%). As we move out to the suburbs in Washington and Clackamas Counties, only a plurality of Independents there are true ticket splitters (47%), but the balance lean Democrat by a significant margin (34% vote Democrat, 19% vote GOP). In the rest of the state, the majority are true ticket splitters, but only in Southern Oregon do we find the balance leaning more toward the GOP.

Among Independent voters, there are no significant differences with regard to gender, however, by age, younger Independent voters (18-44) are most likely to vote Democrat, while Independent voters age 45+ are most likely to be ticket splitters. The following table illustrates these findings.