Oregon

At a glance

Electoral votes: 7  |  Solid Obama

Governor:
D Kulongoski

U.S. Senators:
D Wyden  R Smith


U.S. Representatives:

Oregon State House:

Oregon State Senate: 

Demographics:
2006:
Population 3,700,758
81% White
10.2% Hispanic/Latino
3.6% Asian
1.5% Native American
2.0% Black
1990:
Population 2,842,231
90.7% White
4.0% Hispanic/Latino
2.4% Asian
1.4% Native American
1.6% Black

Presidential election history:
  • 1972R
  • 1976R
  • 1980R
  • 1984R
  • 1988D
  • 1992D
  • 1996D
  • 2000D
  • 2004D
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The candidacy of Barack Obama – who is currently enjoying a strong lead over John McCain in polls of Oregon voters – has energized this already blue state. Obama drew more than 70,000 at a Portland rally in May; a voter-registration drive has boosted the state’s Democratic voters to 43 percent (while just 33 percent are Republicans); and Sen. Gordon Smith, one of only two Republicans in the state’s U.S. congressional delegation, is in a dead heat against Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley.

The two-term incumbent Smith, who voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq in 2002, came out against the war in 2006, distancing himself from the Bush administration. A Mormon, he is pro-life but voted for stem cell research. Merkley, the narrow victor in a bruising primary battle with Steve Novick, is speaker of the Oregon House. Considered an effective bipartisan coalition-builder, Merkley is also against the war. Along the central coast, in Oregon’s 5th district, Republican Mike Erickson and Democrat Kurt Schrader are in a tight race for the seat vacated by six-term Democratic Congresswoman Darlene Hooley. Erickson, owner of a business that negotiates shipping contracts, has pumped more than a million dollars of his own money on the campaign, outspending Schrader three to one. Other Republicans, including Smith and the lone Republican congressman, Greg Walden, have refused to endorse him – possibly because the pro-life Erickson has been accused by an ex-girlfriend of funding her abortion. Erickson’s campaign Web site has a distinctly vacant feel; the last press release was in mid-April. Schrader, a veterinarian, has served in the Oregon House for the past six years. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee committed $1.2 million (of its hefty $47.1 million war chest) into his campaign.

Oregon’s slew of mostly Republican-initiated ballot questions includes Measure 58, which would require English immersion for  school children who don't speak English; Measure 61, termed by its opponents as “a draconian sentencing measure for property and low-level drug crimes” (rival Measure 57 focuses on treatment rather than prison for the same offenders); and Measure 59, which makes federal income taxes fully deductible on state returns (critics say it would benefit high wage earners and blow a huge hole in the state’s budget).