60/40 is a new normal
Yesterday Measure 101 passed 60% to 40%.
The Oregon State Senate is 17 – 13 Democratic. A 57% Democratic majority.
The Oregon House is 35-25 Democratic. A 58% Democratic Majority.
Democratic and Republican voter registration is: 962,745 Democratic and 702,334 Republican. That’s a 58% Democratic majority in these legacy party voters. (though it should be noted that there are over 996,000 non legacy party voters who make up 38% of the total electorate. More than even the Democratic Party)
And it isn’t getting any better for the Republican Party. Many Republican Legislators have left the Legislature recently, or have decided not to seek re-election. Meanwhile Democrats are optimistic about taking a few seats currently held by Republicans and seem poised to exceed a super majority in both houses in 2018.
Compare to 2001-2002
The 2001 Oregon House was 32 Republicans, 27 Democrats and 1 Independent. A 53% Republican majority
The 2001 State Senate was 16 Republicans, 14 Democrats. A 53% Republican majority.
In the 2002 governors race the vote was: 49% Kulongoski, 46% Mannix and 5% Libertarian Tom Cox.
The important comparison is this. In November 2001 voter registration was 39% Democratic, 36% Republican and only 25% non legacy party voters. Making legacy party voters 52% Democratic and 48% Republican.
But the Democratic membership advantage isn’t due to extraordinary growth in the number of Democrats. From November, 2001 until November, 2017, Democratic Party membership decreased from 39% to 36% of the electorate. The real story is the Oregon Republican Party’s failure to thrive.
From November 2001 to November 2017, while total voters have increased by 742,000, the Oregon Republican Party has increased From 689,683 to 702,334. A gain of 12,651 members in 16 years. During that same period, Oregon’s total population increased by some 600,000 people.
Democratic Party membership increased by 211,000 Democrats, or just 28%, during that same time.
But non legacy party voters increased from about 478,000 to over 996,000. An increase of 518,000 and a growth rate of 208%.
A Tenuous 60% Majority
The Oregon GOP’s anti immigration, anti environmental, orthodox social conservative factions have won the struggle for dominance within their party. But it’s been at the cost of membership and support from a majority of non legacy party voters. That loss began in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when the Oregon Citizen Alliance arose and came to dominate the the Oregon Republican Party and the party rejected the policies and priorities of Governor McCall and Senator Hatfield.
Oregon isn’t a 60% blue state. It is a State where an Oregon Republican Party that embraces the current GOP dogma can not and will not earn the support of non legacy party voters.