By Jacob Vandever
Oregon is often painted as a liberal stronghold, unmoved even during big conservative waves such as in 2014. However when you dig into the numbers that idea is not as true as many would think. When you look at the statewide results of the 2016 election it would not be unreasonable to think about telling a different story.
While Republican’s might not necessarily be popular in Oregon, there is an argument to be made that Democrats aren’t as popular as you might be lead to believe. During her race for Governor Kate Brown achieved a comfortable 7 point victory over her Republican opponent Bud Pierce, but still only received a little more than 50% of the vote.
Brad Avakian, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State and Tobias Read, Democratic candidate for Treasurer both only received 43% of the vote. Even in one of the less competitive statewide races, sitting Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum only receive 54% of the votes cast in Oregon.
If you take the average of the percentage of votes received by Democratic Candidates for State offices you only get to 47.5%. This is despite Democrats massively outspending their Republican opponents in statewide races.
Kate Brown outspent Bud Pierce by around $860,000. Brad Avakian outspent Dennis Richardson by almost 1 million dollars. Ellen Rosenblum outspent Daniel Crowe by a little more than $415,000, and Tobias Read outspent Jeff Gudman by somewhere in the ballpark of half a million dollars.
Even in the bluest of blue Oregon, Democratic candidate for President Hillary Clinton was barely able to get over 50% of the vote. Compare this to California where Hillary got 61.6%, Washington where Hillary got 52.5%, and Maryland where Clinton got 60.3% and even Maryland has a Republican Governor.
It seems to me that it isn’t so much that Oregon is dominated by liberals as conservatives have just not found a way to win. When you think about it, around half of our fellow Oregonians were not even liberal enough to have voted for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. Combine that with the solidly “libertarian” streak Oregon voters tend to have on Statewide ballot measures and the idea of Oregon as an unshakable bastion of progressivism seems to melt away.
Oregon is without a doubt a blue state and the voter registration numbers hold that up, but it is not so blue that it should be entirely written off by conservatives. Especially by those clever enough to develop outside the box strategies.