Clackamas County voters fell short in primary election turnout compared to state-wide voting, but there were some notable exceptions. State-wide turnout was 51.7 percent; in Clackamas the overall response was a shade under 50 percent.
While Bernie Sanders took the state-wide presidential race by 57.9 percent to 42.4 percent in winning every county but one (Gilliam voted 101-100 for Hillary Clinton), his edge in Clackamas was narrower — 50.1 percent to 45.4 percent. Lane County’s 60.4 percent for Bernie topped the state; massive Multnomah gave him 58.8 percent.
Democrats dramatically outperformed Republicans across Oregon with a 66.7 percent turnout compared to 57.9 percent Republican. Independent Partyers voted at a 36.3 percent clip and non-affiliated voters hit 19.9 percent; that makes sense because both groups were shut out of party primaries.
Brad Avakian is the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State as he eclipsed Val Hoyle, of Eugene, 39.1 percent to 33.8 percent. State Senator Richard Devlin, of Tualatin, was third with 26.4 percent. Devlin was second in his home county of Clackamas at 29.5 percent with Avakian winning 31.0 percent and Hoyle hitting 21.4 percent.
Kurt Schrader withstood his first real Democratic primary challenge by about a 3:1 ratio as Dave McTeague did better in his home county of Clackamas with a 27 percent showing. McTeague later announced formation of a progressive group linking all seven counties in the 5th Congressional District.
Good News — Looking at the hard numbers shows a surge in Democratic voters both in the state and county as new voters signed up and otherwise non-affiliated voters switched so they could vote in the Democratic primary.
Clackamas County’s bulge grew from about a 5,000 margin to some 15,000 on the Democratic side. Clackamas County now has 94,797 Democrats, 80,816 Republicans, 51,274 non-affiliated voters and 11,003 Independent Party members for a total of 243,465, third in size behind Multnomah and Washington counties.
More than 200 organized Democratic volunteers in Clackamas County went door-to-door delivering slate cards and following-up to make sure folks voted. They achieved an average 60 percent turnout of Democratic voters with many hitting 70 percent and one gaining 80 percent.
Record Setting — The leading Democratic canvassers were a West Linn pair, Noël Lee and her niece, Barbara Tabler, in the Robinwood neighborhood. They hit a record-setting 91 percent turnout.
Turnout is going to be the key in November, and Clackamas County Democrats have a good start. While Democrats had both a higher number voting (62,393) and percentage (66.0 percent), compared to Republicans at 45,409 (56.6 percent), we’ll have to achieve still higher turnout levels in November as there is a great deal at stake beyond the presidential race. (Though the thought of Donald Trump naming our next Supreme Court justice invokes godawful stomach churning.)
Kate Brown is defending her gubernatorial position, Avakian faces a onetime Republican leader, and Tobias Read will need help being elected State Treasurer. Oregon’s Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature and some local races, notably the Clackamas County commission, are also very important. It appears a major tax-shift ballot measure may appear, too.
So-called “down ticket fall off,” whereby people vote for President and then stop right there, is an insidious trend which has haunted partisans forever. That’s where Democratic canvassers through the Neighborhood Leader program come in. We will need to at least double the 200 hard-working volunteers hitting the streets to contain and overwhelm the better-funded Republican campaigns.
As Chair Rosie Stephens reminds us, “Clackamas County: Where the Fight Is.”