I've heard political analyst Jim Moore speak after elections, but today was the first time I'd heard Moore offer up his take before an election.
Before Moore started his Salem City Club presentation, I told someone sitting at my table that I hoped Moore wasn't going to throw cold water on the chances of Oregon progressives in the upcoming mid-term election.
Thankfully, he didn't, as I'll explain below. But though I wish Moore's fingers in the photo I took of him were indicating how small Republican chances were, actually his gesture had some other meaning. (Or maybe no meaning.)
Moore, a political science professor at Pacific University, did refer quite a few times to the possibility of a Blue Wave. Early on in his talk, though, Moore said that while there are indications this could happen, he wasn't sure Oregon was going to become even bluer than it is now.
Still, current Oregon voter registration percentages Moore supplied are encouraging for liberals like me:
Democrat -- 35.4%
Republican -- 25.9%
Unaffiliated -- 31.9%
Independent party -- 4.5%
Now, Moore observed that Republicans who are depressed by the 10 point voter registration gap between them and Democrats like to say, look at the Unaffiliated and Independent Party percentages. Combined, they total more than registered Democrats.
But here's the problem with that logic.
Moore said that most of the "unaffiliated" actually are people who would be D's and R's, but don't want to be identified with a political party. Meaning, they aren't really swing voters. And they vote at a 20 to 35% lower rate than registered Democrats and Republicans.
So Knute Buehler has to be considered an underdog in his attempt to unseat Kate Brown as Governor.
Moore did share a slide showing that recent victories by Democrats in the Oregon Governor race have been by fairly small margins, about 4.5% on average. And he noted that nationally, the GOP would be overjoyed to put a chink in the West Coast "Blue Wall" by Oregon choosing a Republican governor.
However, while polls show a close race between Buehler and Brown, Moore said that even with Phil Knight's recent $1 million contribution to the Buehler campaign, Brown has been outpacing him in fundraising. Here's the current money in the bank for the three Governor candidates:
Buehler -- $1.6 million
Brown -- $4.3 million
Independent party candidate -- $222
That isn't a typo. The Independent Party candidate, whose name I instantly forgot after Moore mentioned it, has a grand total of $222 in campaign funds.
During the Q & A period, Moore was asked about the chance of Greg Walden being upset in his conservative district by Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is driving around the wide open spaces of eastern Oregon with a teardrop camper in tow of her Jeep.
(Moore observed that stories about McLeod-Skinner usually cite the 40,000 miles she's driven; but everybody in eastern Oregon drives long distances, he said wryly.)
Citing two Republican Congressional representatives in Washington state who could lose to a Democrat if a Blue Wave manifests, Moore said that Walden would need a even bigger Blue Wave to be ousted. So this is possible, albeit unlikely.
Regarding Oregon legislative races, only four are competitive in Moore's view, two House and two Senate races. None involve candidates in the Salem area. Moore said that Democrats are going to maintain control of the state House and Senate. The question is whether Dems will end up with a super-majority, which could happen with a large enough Blue Wave.
On the ballot measure front, Moore observed that when the Oregon legislature approved the "sanctuary state" bill that prevents local law enforcement agencies from helping to enforce federal immigration laws, both the Democratic and Republican parties were in favor of this.
Moore urged everybody to read the second paragraph of Measure 105, which would repeal the sanctuary state law, because it says that law enforcement hands aren't tied if an undocumented immigrant is suspected of having committed a crime. Moore didn't think that voters would approve Measure 106, which prohibits state funds from paying for abortions.
In off-year elections, Moore said that with just a few exceptions in past years, the party that doesn't hold the presidency loses seats in Congress. National issues often affect mid-terms, as in 2006, when opposition to the Iraq War hurt Republicans.
However, in the era of Trump, Moore said that the main issue is Trump himself. And given how unpopular Trump is, that's great news for those, like me, who want a Blue Wave to wash over not only Oregon, but the whole country.