It wasn't just a national tidal wave

Oregon's right-wing bloggers continue to try and understand what went wrong for them. At Upper Left Coast , blogger Ken argues that it wasn't just a national anti-GOP tidal wave that hit Oregon:

But I want to focus on the landslide in Oregon, which saw the re-election of a vulnerable Democrat governor, the Democratic takeover of the legislature, and the rejection of every conservative ballot measure. Can we attribute that Democratic slaughter to a national wave of anti-Republicanism? Perhaps partially, but I'd argue that the national picture was not solely responsible for the local landslide. ...

First and foremost, Ron Saxton did not inspire the electorate. Polls showed Ted Kulongoski was among the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation, but I don't think Saxton ever found a way to explain why voters should vote for him instead of against the governor. Saxton never hit any heart issues -- cutting government 10 percent may be attractive to some, but it doesn't rally the troops when the ballots arrive. That's not to say Gov. Kulongoski was better at putting out a vision (in fact, he was pathetic in that regard, just like his entire first term) but Saxton didn't inspire swing voters to consider him.

I think that mindset trickled down to the legislative level, as Republicans appeared to take their House majority for granted, while the Democrats were fighting tooth and nail for every fingerhold they could find. Why the GOP would take the majority for granted in blue Oregon is mystifying, but that's how it seemed to me.

Beyond the issues, he digs into the numbers:

...the county numbers show a Republican bleed across the state. Unlike the 2002 election, the 2006 Kulongoski campaign took Washington, Clackamas and Marion counties from the Republicans, including a 9-point majority in Washington County that stuck a dagger in the heart of Saxton's goals.

Saxton lost votes in 19 counties compared to Kevin Mannix's numbers, and Kulongoski gained votes in all but six counties. Just in the Tri-County area alone, Kulongoski gained more than 20,000 votes over his 2002 totals; half those votes came in Multnomah County, where Saxton also lost almost 7,000 votes (and where Mannix earned 29.3 percent of the vote compared to Saxton's 25.3).

The biggest shocker, however, was Marion County, where Saxton lost nearly 10,000 votes compared to 2002, while Kulongoski's numbers stayed static and he won a slim plurality in the county. Voter turnout in this county was 9 percent lower than 2002, and it was all Republicans!

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • LT (unverified)

    Maybe it isn't about labels like "urban moderate", maybe it is about individual voters making up their minds about individual candidates.

    The blogger made a crack about Marion County voters not going for Saxton because they knew which side their bread was buttered on or some such nonsense.

    Earth to Republicans: there are a lot of Marion County residents in "private sector" occupations like agriculture, retail, hospitality, medicine, clerical, accounting, legal who are not public employees. But maybe their next door neighbor or best friend is. Or maybe people are just tired of hearing that unionized public employees are the enemy when the salaries of management (public or private sector) are published.

    How's this for an idea: maybe people are looking for solutions that work and withstand legal challenge: "fire all public employees and hire them back without PERS" certainly didn't impress those folks.

    Just maybe people voted for individuals and looking at all party races is the wrong way to look at it. I voted for Connie Garcia (who did better in Marion County) and Paul Evans (who did better in Polk County).

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    I am mystified why anyone is shocked by Saxton's poor showing int Marion County. Saxton's campaign consisted largely of immigrant-baiting and public employee-bashing. Marion County has one of the largest concentrations of Hispanic immigrants and public employees in the state. Duh?

    Please see my post this Sunday for further details on why Republicans aren't winning statewide races.

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    Some fairly good insights, but what I'm hearing from their Democratic counterparts is that the Republicans screwed the pooch on this election big time, at least at the legislative level. First and most importantly, they got suckered into making the Minnis race the end-all be-all contest of the cycle, putting insane amounts of money into it. It can be fairly argued that perhaps they had to do that, given that she only won by a few hundred votes, but regardless, other GOP candidates did got get the support they needed.

    But what I also heard is that the GOP wasted a tremendous amount of money in races that the Dems believed were solidly in their camp, and which the actual balloting bore out. They dumped all kinds of cash into Washington County races, and mostly got skunked. The Dems did a fairly good job of keeping their plays fairly close to the chest, and they were literally laughing about the crazy way the GOP was spending its money.

    I think the main problem was that as a party, the state GOP was moribund, directionless, out of touch and as the author above noted, perhaps a bit arrogant and complacent at the legislative level.

    Too bad, so sad! ;)

  • seepeesate (unverified)

    Saxton's campaign consisted largely of immigrant-baiting and public employee-bashing.

    I'm an independent, and although I lean left I have historically voted for Republicans from time to time. I didn't vote for Saxton, primarily for the reasons Mr. Sadler states. The immigrant-baiting struck me as being more than a little racist and the public employee bashing is just an old straw man that, to me, means little more than that the basher is trying to be manipulative.

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    Let's agree we had the wind at our backs. I heard it on the doorstep working for local candidates. However....

    So far everyone has overlooked the major issue for doing better than should be expected. It was due to the campaign put together by Jeff Merkely and Jon Issacs. Let's start with the candidates that Jeff recruited. They were outstanding and those that won, and many that didn't win, were far better candidates than the ones the Republicans recruited or were forced to run again like Billy Dalto. Second Jeff started raising money two years ago and built up the funds to support an organization. Lastly, Jon ran one of the best political operations this state has seen. He polled the issues well in advance, shaped the messages, and ran a coordinated campaign across the state. This and the general anger amongst Democrats then inspired loads of volunteers to go out and work their asses off. This helped bring out dems for all the races up and down the ticket.

    We would have made gains without this effort because of what was going on nationally, but we wouldn't have done as well.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Bogus focus, noun, boxed dreams, bubbleworld lemming lockstep. Someone sincere in stereotype character, while unaware he or she is outside the theatre and not appearing on stage. Wrote this: "...focus on the landslide in Oregon, which saw the re-election of a vulnerable Democrat governor, the Democratic takeover of the legislature, and the rejection of every conservative ballot measure."

    John is right, Dems' menu had hearty stick-to-the-ribs-ers. Torridjoe is right, cold-blooded Reptilians had brain-freeze. Sadler is right, Reptilians can't spell constituent, let alone count one. And, LT, as ever, beats my line: Earth to Republicans:

    1. Governor K never was vulnerable. Notice Saxton's side ran for governer.
    2. D's didn't "takeover" nothing, the mental cases handed over their hostage, whimpering for help to get into recovery.
    3. Bushels of ballot chaff measures are always dumped out, looking for seed grain; only the Con's go on using the baskets for sneaking in fungus rot.

    That is: As long as R's think their world is what they stare at in rightwing TV and massmedia, they can never know what happened in reality. No matter which false explanation they grasp to understand what didn't happen.

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    Posted by: John Calhoun | Nov 16, 2006 4:51:10 PM

    Good comment and insight. Do you get any track on if this also benefited from the DNC 50 state strategy as well? Either directly via the DNC efforts, or because of the 36 county strategy which the DNC one inspired?

  • LT (unverified)

    Don't know about you folks but I am a big fan of Dean's 50 state strategy.

    And getting really tired of national media spin "members of Congress are angry that Dean sent money to state parties and not just to their target races".

    Earth to those members of Congress:

    As a former State Central Comm. member I know that Congress and DNC are not the same organization. If members of Congress want to try to change DNC bylaws to say "the DNC chair will act as directed by members of Congress rather than as directed by duly elected Democratic National Committee members" then let's have that fight out in the open.

    Somehow I don't think Rahm and the gang want that debate publicly. Maybe the networks are saying it is a slow news day and news directors like confrontation.

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    I'd like to echo John C's comments above - the clear, positive and consistent messages coming from Democrats can't be overlooked, and were certainly not matched on the Republican side. Well done, Jeff Merkley and Jon Isaacs, and everyone else contributing to the cause.

    I looked at some numbers too, and a couple things stuck out to me:

    1. The ratio of Democratic to Republican votes was the same (54%) in the Gubernatorial and state House races. Presumably underscores the importance of turnout and energy, and maybe the "coattail effect."
    2. Democratic victories in the Senate and House were, by and large, decisive, whereas there were numerous "just-barely" wins for the Republicans. Measured a different way, the 54% of votes that went to House Democratic candidates was not reflected in the results: only 31 seats (51.7%) went blue.

    I think this invites several conclusions:

    • We now know a number of specific districts where there's a good chance of gaining Democratic seats next time. That should be a huge boon for fundraising and volunteer recruitment in those districts in '08.
    • Oregonian columnist Steve Duin advocated today that the Democrats should open their caucuses. But with such strong support for Democrats, in a legislature that has been controlled by the GOP for some time, I would argue that voters have clearly demanded a Democratic legislative agenda. To the degree that open caucuses make it difficult to develop and pass legislation, they go against the will of the voters.
    • Secretary Bradbury is often accused of having gerrymandered the districting to favor Democrats. Such charges are decisively refuted by the results of this election. If the map were gerrymandered, blowouts would tend to go "red," while Democrats would enjoy numerous victories in close races. But that's the exact opposite of what happened: Democratic victories were strong, and Republicans won the closest races. Dems won this one without the aid of any strategic "cheating" from the Secretary of State.
    Any thoughts? Other conclusions?

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    [off-topic national stuff deleted. -editor.]

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    My "bit about that," was supposed to refer to THAT that LT said.

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