Friday, November 5, 2010

How Kitzhaber Did It

Posted By on Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 7:54 PM

Oregonian political blogger Jeff Mapes has an interesting analysis of how John Kitzhaber was able to eke out a razor-thin victory over Chris Dudley for the governorship. Some of the main points:

The Ground Game: Democrats made the most of their 10% registration edge in the state by mounting an intensive canvassing and phone banking campaign to make sure Democrats actually voted.

Waffling on Abortion: Dudley tried to stake out a middle ground on abortion, saying he was pro-choice but would support restrictions such as requiring parental notification for abortions performed on minors. "Democratic operatives tried to drive anti-abortion voters away from Dudley and to [Constitution Party candidate Greg] Kord," Mapes writes. "One example: NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon sent out mailings proclaiming that Kord was the only 'firmly anti-abortion' candidate in the race."

Sneaky, but effective.

That You-Tube Video: Democrats got hold of, and widely distributed, a clip in which Dudley appeared to be agreeing with restaurant owners who say the minimum wage should be reduced for wait staff who get tips. Dudley quickly assured everybody that he didn't want to cut the minimum wage, but the damage was done.

"Restaurant owners may be bigger campaign contributors, but there are more than 140,000 food and lodging workers in Oregon," Mapes notes. "And a lot of them vote."

The Experience Factor: Mapes cites a poll taken shortly before the election in which voters rated Dudley higher than Kitzhaber in several important areas including private-sector job creation, cutting the budget and education, but gave Kitzhaber a wide edge - 47% to 36% - when asked who was "best qualified to be governor."

Dudley might have closed that gap by agreeing to more debates, but it would have been risky for a political novice to take on somebody who has the facts and figures at his fingertips like Kitzhaber does. Sometimes being a policy wonk is an advantage.

Meanwhile, the video of Kitzhaber's acceptance speech, given yesterday morning in Portland, has been posted on YouTube and other sites. It's an eloquent and inspiring call for Oregonians to unite to solve the serious problems facing the state.

"While the winds that have been buffeting the national political scene were certainly felt here in Oregon, we did not succumb to them," Kitzhaber says. "In this election, Oregonians said we will not be defined by what we are against but rather by what we are for. ...

"I believe that somewhere in America, a state needs to be able to demonstrate that we can weather this kind of challenge without losing our sense of community, without losing our commitment to one another, and emerge stronger and more united than when we began. And if you can't do that in Oregon, you can't do that anywhere in the United States."

Take a look at it. No matter who you voted for, I think it will make you feel better about how the election turned out.

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