John Kitzhaber: A Governor for Multnomah County?

January 13, 2015

Bob Moore Takes a Closer Look at Election Results and Moore Information Polling, Further Revealing How Democrats in Oregon Defied National Trends in 2014

Defying the odds, Democrats held on to the governor’s office in 2014 for the seventh consecutive election by winning just seven of Oregon’s 36 counties.   As is typical for Democrats, John Kitzhaber’s margin was widest in Multnomah County, which he won by more than 135,000 votes.  The final count in Multnomah County had Kitzhaber with 202,617 votes (70%) compared to 66,780 (23%) for Republican Dennis Richardson.  Minor party candidates received 20,273 votes (7%).   Richardson would have won the race for governor if he had held Kitzhaber to 55% in Multnomah County and managed 38% for himself.

By contrast in 2010, Kitzhaber beat Republican Chris Dudley in Multnomah County, 71-27% while winning statewide, 49.3% to 47.8%.  Dudley would have won in 2010 by holding Kitzhaber to 66% in Multnomah County and winning 31% for himself there.

Bottom line?  Republicans must do better in Multnomah County.  They will never win another statewide race without increasing their support in Multnomah County.  A good target for Republicans would be a minimum of 33%. For Democrats, a target in Multnomah County would be 69%.

The sharpest differences in the vote for governor in each of the last two elections were regional.  But our polls leading up to the election reveal there were some other interesting demographic differences in the 2014 election as well, by gender, age and educational attainment, which are shown in the following table.  Kitzhaber’s margin was wider among women than men, he was more popular among younger than older voters and he outperformed Richardson among voters with a post graduate education.

One voting segment in which Oregon was at odds with the rest of the country was household income. Among Oregon voter households with annual incomes of more than $100,000, Kitzhaber beat Richardson, 52-44%. Nationally, upper income voters lean toward Republican candidates, while in Oregon and other West Coast states, upper income voters lean toward Democrats.

2014 Oregon Gubernatorial Race
Election Ballot Preference (N=1,969 interviews)

Kitzhaber and Richardson did equally well among members of their own parties, but Kitzhaber won among the Non-affiliated, Independent and minor party voters.  The vote among the NA/Independent and minor party voters is interesting geographically.  In Multnomah County, Kitzhaber won this group by a 75-18% margin, but outside the Willamette Valley, Kitzhaber and Richardson tied at 42-42% with this group.

Once again Multnomah County is at odds with the rest of the state, but being the population center of the state, the number of voters here is enough to make a difference on statewide election outcomes.

This memo contains data from Oregon statewide voter surveys conducted by Moore Information in October 2014.  A total of 1,969 live telephone interviews were conducted among landlines and cell phones.  Potential sampling error is plus or minus 2% at the 95% confidence level.


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