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OR-1

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My major goal in election-related blogging is to provide some coverage of state-level politics, which I pay a good deal of attention to. This is particularly true in states that I have lived (OR, NM, TX, TN, OH, RI) and states that I have spent a lot of time (most of the American West outside of California, as well as Kentucky, West Virginia, and New York) so I’ll probably focus on those, but will also look at key issues on state ballots around the country.

I’ll start this with the other and possibly equally important election that took place Tuesday night. While Mitt was busy doing what everyone knew he was going to do anyway, OR-1 had a special election to replace the erratic David Wu, who had recently resigned. This should be solidly Democratic country, but the district mostly makes up the western suburbs of Portland, so theoretically the right kind of Republican could compete there. While I tend to be skeptical of the ability of a single local election to have much predictive power. National pundits always want to nationalize an election and that’s often a mistake.

So I don’t want to read much into Tuesday’s election, where Democratic candidate Suzanne Bonamici beat Republican Rob Cornilles 57-37. This is meaningful because Republicans were showing guarded hope of making this election close. With neither candidate doing anything self-destructive, it became a potential look at how a swingish district in a blue state might roll this fall. A 20 point victory is right where a healthy Democratic candidate should be in OR-1. This district went Obama 61-36 in 2008, Kerry 55-44 in 2004, and Gore 50-44 in 2000. Were this a 5 point race, we might have had reason to worry about Oregon in November, but assuming the relative status quo, this is a pretty good sign that Obama might be in pretty good shape in a state he doesn’t want to have to contest.

On the other hand, Democrats dumped $1 million into this race to make sure this was the result and the margin. Probably a good idea, but it wasn’t completely uncontested.

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