Archive for the ‘Time’ Category.

Wave Elections and Oregon Republicans

The wave missed Oregon, again.

The past three wave elections, 2002,2010, and 2014 were all great for national Republicans. None was a particularly great for Oregon Republicans. Why is that?

Sure, in 2002, Gordon Smith turned what had been an expected close race into a landslide victory and the Republicans held the state legislature despite the huge reshuffling, some might say gerrymander, of districts by the Democratic Secretary of State after the 2000 Census. However, the Republicans failed to win  the Governor’s Mansion.

The open seats in 2002 and 2010 were there for the taking, some might say. Why weren’t they?

The most obvious, and probably simplest, reason is that the Republican nominees in these years just weren’t ready.

Kevin Mannix, a social conservative, was simply too conservative for the Oregon electorate. Heck, he was too conservative for the Republican Primary electorate. Jack Roberts and Ron Saxton, both to his left on a wide range of issues, together won a landslide majority – had they not split the vote.

Chris Dudley simply had no resume. Oregonians haven’t elected an inexperienced Governor since 1938. And that year Charles Sprague was the editor of the Statesman-Journal.

Oregon Republicans should nominate their best and brightest, not their afterthoughts, for Governor. You never know what might happen.

Turning back to 1938 might give us some inspiration … the Eugene Register-Guard endorsed Sprague in the Primary and staunchly backed him through the year. However, their endorsement in the Primary was something less than optimistic. They liked Sprague well enough, but they wrote that he didn’t stand much of a chance against popular Democratic Governor Charles Martin. Not only was Martin popular, but Democrats had been winning wider and wider margins nearly everywhere in the country since 1928. A funny thing happened, though. First, the Democrats didn’t re-nominate Martin, Instead, they chose a very liberal nominee. Second, 1938 turned out to be, in relative terms, a wave election for Republicans. They made major strides nationally in 1938. These two in combination made Sprague Governor.

1916: Oregon Voters Expand Prohibition


Oregonians outside the more urban Tri-County area voted to support expanding prohibition. As noted in the last post, the national pattern where urban areas were more supportive and rural areas were less supportive of prohibition also held in Oregon.

Source: Oregon Secretary of State.

1916: Oregon Voters Soundly Reject Prohibition Pullback


Oregonians had passed a Prohibition Constitutional Amendment in 1914.  The 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution only took effect in 1920. In 1916, Oregonians were asked whether they wanted to pull back from prohibition (Measure 8) or to expand the impact of prohibition (measure 9).

The rejected pulling back by a landslide. The only place it was close was in Multnomah county. Across the nation prohibition did better in rural areas and worse in urban areas. That was true in Oregon as well.

Source: Oregon Secretary of State.

1916: Republican Hughes Wins Oregon – Democrat Wilson Elected


Oregon voted for Republican Charles Evans Hughes over Democrat incumbent President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson had won Oregon in 1912 when incumbent President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt had split the Republican vote. In 1916, both Roosevelt and Taft campaigned for Hughes. Hughes narrowly lost the electoral college.

Source: Oregon Secretary of State.

Oregon Voters by Region, 1916


Compared to today there were relatively more voters in Portland (Multnomah County) and in southern and eastern Oregon and substantially less in today’s suburban counties.

Source: Oregon Secretary of State.

Oregon Statewide Party Registration by Gender, 1916


Women got the vote in Oregon in 1912. The United States only followed in 1920. Many women, particularly older women, were slow to register. That accounts for the still about 60% of voters in 1916 being men. Today there are more women registered in Oregon than men, largely due to longevity.

Note that women registered disproportionately for the Prohibition party. Contemporaries credited the passage of a prohibition constitutional amendment in Oregon in 1914 to women receiving the vote. Only men voted on the prohibition in 1910 it failed.

Source: Oregon Secretary of State.

Oregon Statewide Party Registration, 1916


The graphic above requires a bit of explanation. First, Oregon was an overwhelmingly Republican state in 1916 in registration. This continued to be true into the 1930s.

Second, there were three partisan primaries in May, 1916: Republican, Democratic, and Progressive. Teddy Roosevelt’s strong performance in the 1912 Oregon General Election qualified the Progressive party to hold primaries in 1914 and 1916.

Third, despite holding a primary, as opposed to a nominating convention like the Prohibition and Socialist parties did, there were fewer Progressive party members. It should be noted that registration was a bit different than today. Unlike the permanent registration we have today, registration was annual. One newspaper cartoon of the time showed how the Progressive party registration had no waiting line, unlike the Democrats and Republicans.

Finally, as one might guess based on the above information, the Progressive Party nominees didn’t get enough votes to maintain a primary after 1916. This year’s primary, 2016, was the first time since 1916 that Oregon had three major party primaries.

Source: Oregon Secretary of State.

Eugene Mayoral Contest Result in Historical Perspective, 1996-2016


This chart includes the last five significant mayoral contests. These span the past 20 years. Several things are immediately clear.

First, after 1996 and before 2016 the Business and Progressive sides were fairly evenly matched.

Second, at each end of the time series, however, there were landslides. Torrey beat Weaver and Vinis beat Clark. Both wins were by more than 15 points. Torrey’s win was slightly bigger. The two landslides, though, are not exactly comparable. Torrey vs. Weaver was head to head. Clark vs. Vinis included three minor candidates.

Finally, while Vinis’ percentage was only slightly above the norm for Progressive candidates, Clark’s percentage was far below that for Business candidates.

Two different conclusions are reasonable: 1. Eugene has become far more progressive since 2008. The minor candidates in 2016 were all progressive and they could have taken votes meant for Vinis. 2. For some reason, the Clark campaign significantly underperformed.

At this point the data supports conclusion #2. There are many reasons for this. Among these are that Pat Farr had little problem winning the North Eugene County Commissioner seat against a strong opponent. His numbers were far above Bobby Green’s in 2008 while Mike Clark’s were far below Jim Torrey’s in 2008. The polling over the past decade has been pretty consistent and shows no big changes in the Eugene electorate. Finally, polling for the mayoral race closely matched the actual result. This will be covered in the next post.

METHODOLOGY: The totals do not always equal 100% due to minor candidates. The mayoral contests included were: 1996 Gen.: Jim Torrey (Business) vs. Jim Weaver (Progressive). 2004 Prim.: Nancy Nathanson (Business) vs. Kitty Piercy (Progressive). There were some minor candidates. 2008 Prim.: Jim Torrey (Business) vs. Kitty Piercy (Progressive). There were some minor candidates. 2008 Gen.: Jim Torrey (Business) vs. Kitty Piercy (Progressive). 2016 Prim.: Mike Clark (Business) vs. Lucy Vinis (Progressive). There were some minor candidates. There were no minor candidates running in either of the general elections considered due to Eugene City Charter requirements.

SOURCE: Lane County elections.

Cumulative Turnout Percentage by Date by 2014 Primary Turnout


Voters in the primary voted earlier and established a wide turnout advantage over those who did not vote in the primary.

The turnout difference is dramatic. Fully 96% of those who voted in the primary returned for the general versus only 58% of those who skipped the primary.

SOURCES of RAW DATA: Oregon Secretary of State, L2 of Bellevue Washington.

Percentage of Total Turnout by Date by 2014 Primary Turnout


Voters in the primary voted earlier than those who had not voted in the primary.

SOURCES of RAW DATA: Oregon Secretary of State, L2 of Bellevue Washington.