August 17th, 2012 8:00 am | by WW Editorial Staff News | Posted In: Politics, Media

The New York Times—Aided by Oregonian Reporters—Looks at Obama's Strength in Oregon

Obama_IntelPresident Barack Obama - Photo:

One of the best places for political junkies to keep an eye on every tremor of the presidential race is FiftyThirtyEight, the New York Times blog dedicated to tracking polls and probabilities.

The blog (named for the total number of electoral votes) uses sophisticated tracking and analysis to weigh polls and trends in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The current projection is that President Obama will collect around 300 electoral votes in November—more than the 270 he needs to win re-election. The blog's calculations give Obama a 70 percent chance to beat Republican Mitt Romney.

FiveThirtyEight has been taking a virtual tour of the country and stopped in Oregon recently to weigh the support for Obama here. The conclusion: Oregon is safe for the president but could shift to being "in play."

"Oregon, overall, seems to be just to the ideological left of where most political observers place the border between competitive and safely Democratic states," Micah Cohen wrote on the blog Aug. 16.

The assessment leans heavily on the state's track record (Obama won by 16 percent in 2008, an unusually higher margin for Democratic candidates who win the state) and the analysis of two veteran hands at The Oregonian, political reporters Harry Esteve and Jeff Mapes

If Oregon becomes close, the fight will be waged in Washington and Clackamas counties, says Mapes and Oregon State University political science professor Bill Lunch, who was also interviewed for the blog.

"But in the context of a Republican wave election, or conditions nearly that favorable, a Republican could carry the state. 'There’s still a sense that under the right circumstances Republicans could be competitive statewide,' Mr. Lunch said, 'but they’ve got to have everything go right for them.' "
And what are the odds of that? Very low, FiveThirtyEight says. Nor will Oregon likely be a "tipping point," as the blog puts it. The blog's simluations show "in over 99 percent of the model’s simulations, Oregon’s seven electoral votes prove either a given for a winning Mr. Obama or unneeded for a victorious Mr. Romney."
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