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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prediction: Merkley will win Senate contest

It's early, but the way things are shaping up, I think we're likely to see Jeff Merkley emerge as the nominee for U.S. Senate in the Oregon Democratic primary. Looking at the county by county breakdown, we can see that Novick's strength is primarily flowing from one place...Multnomah County, which is urban Portland.

Merkley is running even with Novick in Washington and Clackamas counties, which are also part of the Portland metro area.

In Lane County (which contains Eugene) Merkley is winning outright. He has 51% of the vote there as of 8:45 PM. He has a similar percentage in Marion County, which contains most of Salem, the capital of Oregon and one of the largest cities.

But the most important factor is the rural Oregon counties, most of which are supposed to go big for Merkley. Hardly any of them have reported yet.

These counties are, for example, on the coast (Tillamook, Curry, etc.) in the Cascades (Hood River, Wheeler), on the Columbia Plateau (Baker, Umatilla), or in the Basin out in east Oregon (Malheur, Deschutes).

UPDATE: Some of the rural counties are now reporting their first numbers. Novick is running close behind in a few of them (and he's winning Clatsop, which contains Astoria, Seaside, and Cannon Beach), but in others, Merkley has a big lead. Merkley is doing very well in Jackson County, home to Medford, another of Oregon's biggest cities (it's the largest population center in Southwest Oregon). He's beating Novick there 48% to 34%.

UPDATE II: This Oregonian interactive map shows you the scope and depth of Merkley's appeal across the state. He's winning almost every part of Oregon except for the mouth of the Columbia and upstream to Portland. In Curry and Coos counties on the southern coast, he's crushing Novick by about twenty points.

Merkley has climbed ever so slowly over the last hour or so, but Multnomah County is due to report in in a few minutes (at 9:45 PM) and that should boost Novick somewhat. He's currently at 41%. Merkley has 45%.

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