Thom Hartmann: Oregon is a Bellwether State

Thom Hartmann was watching the returns on Tuesday when he heard a TV commentator observe:

"Well, yeah, those folks out in Oregon, those mostly white folks out in Oregon, they did vote for Barack Obama, but, you know, they're the exception in this country because they're just so weird. They are so liberal out there in Oregon. You can't use them as any kind of barometer or metric for anything about what could happen in the real election."

It enraged him enough to track down Kari Chisholm, with whom he regularly talks on Tuesday mornings on KPOJ, and post some of the excerpts on the Huffington Post.  Here's one exchange:

[Kari Chisholm]: I think that's right. You know, Barack Obama's win here, which was about 58 to 41, and was a state-wide win, you know, there were some, certainly some counties in the East of the state where he split with Hillary but, you know, he didn't just win in the Portland metro area. Barack Obama won out on the coast in Lincoln County where there are more cows than people. He won He won in Jackson County and Josephine County and Curry County on the South West corner of the state. Barack Obama's win...

[Thom Hartmann]: These are very rural, relatively low income areas.

[Kari Chisholm]: Yeah.

[Thom Hartmann]: This is not the yuppie outposts that people think of, incorrectly, think of rural Oregon as being.

Read the rest and discuss it there.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    Queen of Appalaichia...Nice touch, Kari...

  • (Show?)

    It's not accurate to say that Oregon is a bunch of latte' sipping liberals, no. But it IS accurate to say that Western rural whites are somewhat different culturally from Appalaichan rural whites, or southern rural whites, or Midwestern rural whites, or even Northeastern rural whites (although they probably have the most in common with whites in states like VT and NH).

    The boob tube commentator was trying to make a Hillary kind of point that Oregon "doesn't count," but Obama's victory in Oregon is neither something to be discounted, nor a bellwether for "rural whites" in general.

    I think the most salient response Hartmann could have made is to note that Oregon's rural areas ARE a lot like Washington's, and Idaho's, and Montana's, and Colorado's. And what one notices is that Obama is able to do very well among those voters, including indies and even Republicans. Barack's gift is that he alters the electoral map. Ohio and Florida are not absolute musts; particularly if Virginia is now in play (which today's SUSA says it is), all he needs is a couple western states and he's made his nut.

  • (Show?)

    Obama won Maine, too, and check this out, from the 2006 Census:

    Total Maine population: 1,274,923

    White persons, 96.7% Black persons, 0.8%
    American Indian and Alaska Native persons, 0.6% Asian persons, 0.9% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.2% Persons reporting two or more races, 1.0% Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, 1.0%

    So if uber-white Maine, which has elected two Republican U.S. Senators, can vote for Obama, then why not believe that as goes Maine, so goes the nation.

  • (Show?)

    One minor correction: The cows on the north coast live largely in Tillamook County, not Lincoln. Argh.

    Now, I gotta get me some of that Lincoln Cheddar Cheese I've heard is so good.... :)

  • (Show?)

    You also said Wallowa (which Obama did indeed win) was the home of Smith. I didn't include that passage. Actually, Pendleton's in Umatilla--which Clinton won. But no worries, we all make mistakes. For example, when I posted this, I was going to remove comments. D'oh!

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    Kari, Lincoln County has more Sea Lions than people, except for the months the Salmon run is high on the Columbia and they vacation near Bonneville....

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)

    Nice job Kari, I heard part of the interview on the way home yesterday. Good stuff! Thank you for mentioning Josephine and Jackson Counties which Barack won. Trust me, these are by no way liberal bastions!!

  • Eric Berg (unverified)

    Another minor correction: Gordon Smith's hometown of Pendleton is in Umatilla County.

    My big beef isn't with the national media-types stereotyping Oregon. That's to be expected.

    I'm a native working class Oregonian and proud Portlander who grew surrounded by forests and farms. I've also lived on both sides of the Cascades. I often get frustrated with the disconnect between Portland-area creative class-types and the rest of the state.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, Pendleton is in Umatilla. ARRGH!

    Lesson learned: Do not do national radio interviews on the morning after election day while hungover.

  • (Show?)

    Oregon, Bellwether? Sorry Kari, does not compute for me. I'm with TJ on this one.

  • The Libertarian Guy (unverified)

    I'm not sure Portland is all that affluent. Maybe compared to the rest of the state, but compared to anything else it is average and maybe a bit down scale.


  • Brian (unverified)

    I tend to agree with the nameless commentator/pundit. We Oregonians are a weird lot. In a political sense, the vibe around the Portland metro area reminds me an awful lot San Francisco, which is anything but mainstream. Be weird and accept the fact that you are with pride.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Union, Baker, Wallowa, Grant, Gilliam, Wasco all voted Obama. FYI Baker Co median income $31.5K vs $44.3K nationally, 96.6% white, 5.5 people/ sq mi. Um, rural, blue collar, white????

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    I hope we don't get too complacent about Obama's victory in Oregon. Remember, he won Baker, Grant, Gilliam, Jackson, Josephine, Lincoln, Wallowa, Wasco and Union counties in the Democratic primary--and there aren't that many Democrats in those counties.

  • (Show?)

    Oregon, Bellwether? Sorry Kari, does not compute for me.

    Well, I didn't say that. Somebody else did.

    The only point I was making was this: The national media spin - "Obama can't win working-class whites" - is flat-out wrong. Oregon has working-class whites. Obama won here.

    The only working-class whites he can't win are in Appalachia.

  • Brian (unverified)

    If you need an example of just how weird Oregonians can be, look no further than Chuck Butcher. Here's a dude who lives in rural Eastern Oregon, owns a small business, claims to be a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and is opposed to illegal immigration. Surely he's a Republican or Independent, right? Nope, he's a hardcore lefty who expresses admiration for Kucinich, Obama and the like. No matter where you see yourself in the political spectrum, that's just plain "weird".

  • Iris (unverified)

    To: [email protected]; [email protected] Subject: RE: Obama - Ask Hillary First! Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 15:23:21 -0700

    To Thom Hartmann

    So you want to tighten the corporate noose around our necks even more!

    After talking and writing so much about how the corporations run our government and are ruining our country you, like Michael " if you can't beat them join them" Moore, have now succumbed to the completely irrational worship of corrupt politicians.

    When things fall apart, should the dems win, I am holding you partly responsible for perpetuating this myth that living under rule of dem corporatists is somehow less bad than repub corporatists.

    You know as well as I do that there are presidential candidates running who rage against corporations. If you had any guts you would support them, and not expect them to cave in!

    You are a hypocrit at best,a shill for the corporatists, and proud of it. Shame on you!


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