The presidential primaries might matter to Oregonians
, but Oregon has hardly mattered historically to the primaries.
After all, it's a small state and the sixth-to-last state to weigh in when the primary comes around May 20. But there's at least a chance that party nominations won't be secured by this May. In fact, Oregonians might suddenly find themselves wielding a good deal more power than they ever imagined, says Lewis & Clark political science professor Robert Eisinger.
At the City Club of Portland's weekly Friday Forum (today on the presidential race) Eisinger said he thinks there's a good chance this year's nominations will go down to the wire—"maybe even to the convention."
Fellow panelist Lisa Grove — a pollster and political strategist whose clients have included Al Gore and Gov. Ted Kulongoski — disagreed. By the night of Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, when 22 states go to the polls, she thinks the victors will have emerged. She shied away from making any predictions herself.
Whatever their forecasts on Oregon's role in the primary process, Eisinger and Grove agreed that it would be neither feasible nor desirable to move up Oregon's primary date. If the order of elections did change, the states to vote first would ideally be particularly representative of America's population at large.
"We don't have much of a case to make for moving our elections up," Grove said of Oregon. "We're just as white and little and irrelevant as the states that go early. It's not fair that Iowa and New Hampshire get to go first, but that's just how it is."
Eisinger, who was in Iowa during its caucus, complained about how chaotic it was. It was "irrational, noisy and messy," he said. "I could have voted multiple times—the only thing that stopped me was a conscience."
As for the donuts and cookies he received in Iowa from expectant Edwards and Clinton campaign teams, he lamented, "this is definitely not what the Founding Fathers had in mind."