I knew it. Oregon isn’t a swing state, its an extreme state. The blog FiveThirtyEight explored the question of Oregon’s political leanings in a recent post entitled “Oregon: Swing State or latte-drinking, Prius-driving lesbian commune?”
There are two ways to be a swing state. One is to have a lot of moderates. That doesn’t really describe Oregon; a moderate state like Ohio would never pass an assisted suicide law. The other way is to have both a lot of conservatives and a lot of liberals, who happen to roughly balance one another out. Oregon is one such state.
The evidence for this conclusion come from 2004 exit polls in which voters are asked a basic question about ideology (conservative/liberal/moderate). The authors then construct a Liberalness Score by assigning 10 points to every liberal, 5 to a moderate, a 0 to a conservative:
The average voter in Oregon has a Liberalness Score of 4.65, which ties it with Minnesota as the 13th most liberal state in the country. (Massachusetts is the most liberal state at 5.65, and Utah the most conservative at 3.30. Note that only a handful of states have a rating above 5 — that is, have more self-identified liberals than conservatives.)But here’s where it gets interesting. The average Kerry voter nationwide had a Liberalness Score of 6.20 — just slightly left of center. However, in Oregon, the average Kerry voter was a 7.17. This, as it happens, is the highest score in the country; the Kerry voters in Oregon were more liberal than the ones in Vermont (7.11) or even the District of Columbia (6.97).
Meanwhile, the average Bush voter nationwide had a Liberalness Score of 2.58 — pretty darn conservative. But in Oregon, the average Bush voter was a 2.01 — very conservative. And guess what? That is the lowest Liberalness Score for Bush voters anywhere in the country. The Bush voters in Oregon were as conservative as the ones in Tennessee (2.02) or Utah (2.15).
This is why the roads are so lousy in Oregon. On the left we have the “small is beautiful” crowd that thinks driving a passenger car is a crime against the planet. On the right we have government bashing reactionaries who think taxes are theft, or that the money will be used to fund a Gay Owl Preservation Committee. Thus we live in Pothole Oregon.