Election News, 4 Days Out

Jeff Alworth

Lots going on today, so I'll dispense with the lame preamble...

Measure 36
Today's New York Times had an interesting editorial about the gay marriage bans on the ballot in 11 states:

The most promising chance to defeat one of these mean-spirited measures is in Oregon, where voters tend to bridle at government interference in personal affairs, and where the legal status of 3,000 same-sex marriages performed last March may be in jeopardy. By rejecting the amendment, Oregonians would send a message of tolerance that would help balance defeats in other states.

A pipe dream? Maybe not. The Oregonian today published the results of a surprising survey they commissioned between Oct 25-27 (more results to follow). In the survey of 608 Oregonians, the measure was leading by only four points 50%-46%, and is losing ground steadily.

This is very big news. The decline shows that the more Oregonians learn about this stinker, the less they like it. These numbers inmply that defeat is in striking distance. Given the large turnout, the sustained Kerry support, and the ongoing campaign against 36, who knows? (See Jason's analysis below for more.)

More Numbers
That Oregonian poll contained other surprising--and hopeful--numbers. Measure 37, the property compensation measure, has seen its popularity go south, as well. A month ago only 27% opposed it. Thanks to the fine work of the anti-37 folks, however, that shot up to 42% in this poll, just four points behind the yes vote. Any approval number below 50% is squishy at best.

Measure 35, the malpractice limitation measure, is also facing turbulence. It's polling at exactly 50%, as it was a month ago. The anti-35 vote has moved up from 36% to 42%.

Another finding: Kerry remains firmly in the lead, which will surprise no one.

Voter Turnout
Pat yourselves on the backs, good webfeet. Secretary of State Bill Bradbury is predicting a final voter turnout of 84% of registered voters, which pretty much kicks ass. (An even more interesting statistic may be the turnout as a proportion of voting-age population, which is the standard the US Census uses. Because the state registered so many more voters this year, it will be harder to get them all to return ballots. But as a measure of voting-age population--2.5 million in 2000--it should represent a sizeable gain.)

Also impressive, nearly a million ballots have already been turned in, or 45% of all registered voters. That's way ahead of the 2000 pace, when only 31% had been turned in.

Kevin's Continuing Fraud
Someone needs to keep Kevin Mannix away from any issue that involves the words "voter" and "fraud." Listen:

On Wednesday, State GOP Chair Kevin Mannix tried to distance himself and his party from the national party and their unscrupulous voter registration fraud efforts in Oregon. The only problem is that Sproul & Associates were operating out of local republican office and working under the supervision of Mannix and the state party officials.

Beautiful, Beautiful Irony
The Kevman's efforts to root out fraud have helped foment an amusing effort by Lars Larson. Lars, ever fearful of Salem bureaucrats, is apparently urging his listeners to hold onto their ballots.

Lars Larson, the best-rated of the conservative talk-show hosts in Oregon, is critical of the Oregon law allowing county officials to open returned mail ballots as early as seven days before the Tuesday deadline. The officials use the time to inspect the ballots and place a mark over votes that might not be read by the counting machines.... [Larson] said he's continuing to tell his listeners to "turn it in as late as possible."

To recap: Mannix, a man plagued by fraud charges over the past two years, finds himself helming a dubious anti-voter-fraud campaign by the GOP. As the GOP Chair, he's also trying to mount an effective get-out-the-vote campaign, which depends on voters turning their ballots in early so party volunteers can identify the stragglers. But the effort is being thwarted by his fringy righties who are paranoid about fraud, the fear of which Mannix has been trying to encourage.

It doesn't get much better than that.

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