Obama “Only” Leads By Six In Oregon, But This Is Neither Surprising Nor Important
President Barack Obama holds a relatively narrow lead of six points over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Oregon, according to a new poll conducted for The Oregonian.
Obama’s lead is considerably smaller than his margin of victory in Oregon four years ago and is a sign of how tight the presidential race has become across the nation.
In addition, the poll also found that an initiative to legalize marijuana, Measure 80 is failing, with 49 percent opposed and 42 percent in favor. Voters are even more strongly opposed to two pro-casino measures –82 and 83 — that even their sponsors gave up on.
A six point lead in a poll with a five point margin of error, and eight percent undecided with a week to go before the election. On the surface, that seems like a surprise because we’re talking about a state that hasn’t gone for a Republican since Ronald Reagan’s landslide in 1984. However, if you look at recent electoral history in Oregon, you’ll find that this isn’t entirely surprising. Four years ago, the President won the state by some sixteen points over John McCain. However, either years earlier in 2000, Al Gore barely won the state, garnering only about 7,000 voters more than George W. Bush. In 2004, Bush came within less than four points of John Kerry in the state. In both elections, the Democratic candidate failed to garner the majorities that Bill Clinton got in both 1992 and 1996. This isn’t to suggest that Oregon is a “purple” state, just that it appears to have become a bit more Republican over the past decade, most likely thanks to an influx of people moving from California to get away from that state’s economic and political mess. Obama’s huge victory there was therefore most likely an anomaly in the same way that his victories in Indiana and North Carolina back then were. Given this, I don’t think we should be at all surprised to see a poll showing the race in the single digits.
If I were a Romney supporter, though, I wouldn’t necessarily be touting this poll as evidence of anything. Most likely, the President is still going to win Oregon. The RealClearPolitics average has him with a +6.0 point lead, and the site also shows that this has been a single point race, ranging between six and nine points, since September. Unless you happen to be one of those people who believe that Romney is going to win in a landslide despite all the evidence, the fact that Romney is picking up support in Oregon isn’t going to help him win the election. For that, he needs to concentration on states like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado. Oregon is essentially meaningless to the Electoral Math at this point.