Friday, September 21, 2018

Oregon Governor- Race of the Day

46 Days Until Election Day

Oregon Governor

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

It has been 40 years since a Republican was last elected Governor of Oregon. Since that time though, with just one reelection exception, every single one of the victories for the Democrats was with a vote percentage total of 52 percent or fewer. They have become experts at winning the office narrowly, although sometimes third party candidates have also played a role. This year, it seems both possible that a Republican might either finally win or a Democrat might hit 53 percent or more. I would say the latter is more likely, although she probably will not get much more support than that.

This will be the third straight national general election in Oregon for Governor. A special election was held two years ago, in which interim Governor Kate Brown won by a reasonably solid 51-43, although polls had predicted a likely double digit victory. She had become Governor in early 2015, elevated from the office of Secretary of State, because the state's newly reelected Democrat Governor resigned under scandal after he and his fiancee were alleged to have used their positions for personal gain. Brown, who is married to a man, has the distinction of being the nation's first openly bisexual Governor, although on issue, she might be described as far more liberal than bipartisan.

A lot of the nation's Governors have low approval ratings and dissatisfaction over their management styles or accomplishments and Brown has seemed to be one of them. While Republicans had been bitterly disappointed in Gubernatorial elections before, there was the hope that this time, the incumbent may really be vulnerable, after having won the office on her own. The GOP would need to pick its strongest candidate possible though, as Brown was taking 82 percent in a three person May primary.

Two out of the nine candidates in the Republican field emphasized their conservative bona fides and attempted to present themselves as a contrast to the perceived GOP frontrunner, a moderate. Nonetheless motivational speaker and former Navy pilot Greg Wooldridge finished in third place with 20 percent of the vote and that likely prevented a victory by the second place finisher Sam Carpenter, a businessman who took 29 percent. This was the third straight primary loss for Carpenter who also lost Senate races in 2014 and 2016.

GOP nominees had been competitive in the race for Governor in both '14 and '16 but both of those candidates did not run. This left an establishment spot open for a candidate who was a bit younger than the previous nominees, but also a physician like the most recent one. State Representative Knute Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon, remained the frontrunner throughout and won the primary with 46 percent of the vote.  A social moderate, who was once involved in the Ross Perot campaign effort, Buehler was seen as the kind of Republican who might pose a serious challenge to Brown in Oregon.

For several months, polls had shown a dead-heat between the candidates, with Buehler even perhaps ahead by a point or two. Considering what usually happens in Oregon though, Democrats might not have been too panicked. The most recent poll now shows Brown is ahead by 10 points, but it is too early to say if that might be an outlier.

Right now, all there really is to go on is what has happened in the past. Republicans do very well inland in Oregon but the Democrat advantage in liberal "Portlandia" has held more sway statewide. What also has happened recently is that Democrats have done worse at the ballot box for this office than they had in the public opinion polls. Still, they get just enough to win. This year, that is probably the best to repeat itself.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

13 D  (2 Safe, 2 Likely,  6 Leans, 3 Tossup) 
14 R   (2 Safe, 5 Likely, 5 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

20 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 2 Likely, 6 Leans, 3 Tossup)
21 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 5 Likely, 5 Leans, 2 Tossup)


At 9:29 AM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Something tells me Brown might hold on, but good chance the GOP might win back Mahonia Hall.


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