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September 27, 2004
LA Times: Oregon In Play

Today's Los Angeles Times makes a startling admimssion that Oregon, one of the more liberal states and part of the West Coast block that normally is reliably "blue", is up for grabs this year -- even while misreporting the latest polling results:

Democrats have not lost a presidential election in Oregon since Ronald Reagan's landslide reelection two decades ago. And it would seem relatively safe territory for Sen. John F. Kerry: Anti-Iraq war sentiment runs strong here, and the state has had the nation's highest unemployment rate for parts of President Bush's term.

Yet the double-digit lead Kerry rode in polls here earlier this summer has narrowed sharply, reflecting his general slide in national polls but also the unease many Oregonians express about Kerry's credentials as a commander in chief.

Now, just a month after Kerry drew 40,000 to a boisterous waterfront rally in Portland, Oregon's seven electoral votes are in play. The Democrat will have to spend time and money to hold onto this state, which Al Gore narrowly won in 2000. And based on the nationwide political landscape, carrying Oregon appears vital to Kerry's presidential hopes.

For some reason, Sam Howe Verhovek chooses to misrepresent the latest polling data in Oregon, which doesn't show that Kerry's lead has "narrowed". It shows that Kerry's lead has completely disappeared. Bush leads in Oregon among likely voters in the two most recent polls at Real Clear Politics; SurveyUSA has Bush up by one while Mason-Dixon has Bush up by four. It's hard to believe that Verhovek could miss this data if he did any research into the subject, especially since his entire premise is that Kerry's polling lead supposedly narrowed.

Verhovek points to a measure on the Oregon ballot for part of Kerry's woes, an initiative which amends the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. As this measure is overwhelmingly popular in Oregon -- it leads 2-1 -- Verhovek assumes this translates into better turnout among conservatives and gives Bush a boost:

Bush's Oregon prospects could get a boost from a conservative turnout for a ballot measure that would amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage. Current polls indicate the initiative is headed for passage by a wide margin. ...

In this initiative-happy state, the Bush campaign is hoping to benefit from a measure that would amend the state constitution to specifically define marriage as a heterosexual union. The most recent poll showed the measure passing 61% to 34%.

The so-called One Man, One Woman initiative is a big issue for some people in Gresham, a politically divided Portland suburb framed by a majestic Mt. Hood vista, and the voters who favor it appear squarely in the Bush camp.

It appears from the 61% favorable rating in liberal Oregon that it is a big issue, and not just for conservative voters. No one in their right mind who has watched Oregon local or state politics would call Oregon 61% "conservative." What the Democrats are discovering is that there is a far cry between traditional liberalism and the social engineering favored by the more radical Left, and that the more the latter is embraced by mainstream Democratic candidates, the more marginalized they become.

Another interpretation of this measure and others like it around the country (Missouri springs to mind) is not an anti-gay bias, although that certainly motivates some people, but rather a rejection of top-down dictates from appelate justices that create laws with no input from the electorate. The entire point of amending state constitutions is to remove state justices from carving out gay marriage from otherwise benign existing statements. It's a grassroots rejection of judicial activism -- and as such, it also plays to Bush's strength this year.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 27, 2004 5:07 AM

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» The Gay Marriage Impact from Secure Liberty
Many in the libertarian camp may not like to hear this, but gay marriage is going to impact this election, even though the press will never admit it. I metioned the other day that John Kerry was booed in South Boston. As a former Southie resident, le... [Read More]

Tracked on September 27, 2004 10:28 AM

» Oregon - No Beaver-Just Bush from Right Journal
Captain Ed, no doubt in line for a promotion, expostulates with the LA Times assertion that Oregon is merely in play for Mr. Bush. For some reason, Sam Howe Verhovek chooses to misrepresent the latest polling data in Oregon, which doesn't show that... [Read More]

Tracked on September 29, 2004 12:41 PM

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