Kentucky and Oregon Primary Predictions

Today’s Democratic primaries in Kentucky and Oregon provide something akin to a rematch of the recent Indiana-North Carolina pairing. Hillary Clinton should easily win Kentucky, where Barack Obama hasn’t even bothered to campaign, and Obama should take Oregon.

The Polls

The latest RealClearPolitics average has Clinton up a whopping 29 points in Kentucky and Obama up a comfortable 12 in Oregon. A strange thing, though, about Oregon: the polls are all over the place.

Oregon Primary Polls

ARG, which has it as a 5 point race — and a 4 percent margin of error — has done well predicting margins and turnout in recent contests. Their internals:

Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton 57% to 39% among men (48% of likely Democratic primary voters). Among women, Clinton leads 51% to 44%.

Obama leads 51% to 44% among white voters (88% of likely Democratic primary voters). Clinton leads 50% to 46% among Hispanic voters (6% of likely Democratic primary voters).

Obama leads 55% to 38% among voters age 18 to 49 (49% of likely Democratic primary voters) and Clinton leads 52% to 45% among voters age 50 and older.

Clinton and Obama are tied at 49% each among voters saying they have returned their ballots (58% of likely Democratic primary voters) and Obama leads 52% to 40% among voters saying they will definitely return their ballots by May 20th.

20% of likely Democratic primary voters say they would never vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary and 22% of likely Democratic primary voters say they would never vote for Barack Obama in the primary.


Clinton will win Kentucky by even more than the 29 point average margin. Call it 73-26.

Oregon will be interesting. Obama is ahead in every single poll but his demographics are slightly softer. I’d still guess he’ll take it by something like 10 points. Call it 55-45.


If things go more-or-less according to script, Obama will be the night’s winner. He’ll almost certainly go over the 50 percent mark in pledged delegates, further enhancing the perception that he’s the presumptive nominee. (Clinton, meanwhile, claims to have passed 300 Electoral Votes and thus won, easily. Someone forgot to tell her that the Electoral College is for the general election, not the primaries.)

The only way it gets interesting is if Clinton wins Oregon. While highly unlikely, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. There are two polls which have her within the margin of error and she’s leading among the more reliable older voters. If she somehow pulls it off, she’ll get some buzz and strengthen her argument to the superdelegates that she’s the stronger candidate.

But she has to win. Even coming very, very close won’t be enough.

UPDATE (Dodd): Hillary Clinton should easily win Kentucky, where Barack Obama hasn’t even bothered to campaign….

I keep hearing this and I presume it’s because that’s the pre-match spin Obama’s campaign’s been putting out to diminish the significance of his expected loss here. But it’s patently false. Obama himself was here in Louisville last week for a standing room only rally (10,000 got in, hundreds more were turned away). He has an office here in what used to be the county Democrat Party HQ (and before that was my favourite coffee shop – that corner’s really gone downhill). His campaign is definitely canvassing heavily. And, even though I don’t watch that much television, I’ve been seeing quite a lot of his TV ads for the last 2-3 weeks (by contrast, I have not seen a single one for Hillary!).

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. pam simpson says:


  2. Richard Gardner says:

    Oregon is unique in that it has 100% mail-in ballots (or drop-off). That means no exit polls too. Most ballots were cast days ago (even weeks ago), so a single-date poll isn’t as useful if views change. The only question in Oregon is how much Obama will lead Clinton by.