Back To the Bubble

Reporters Edward Walsh and Jeff Mapes in the Oregonian, just after the 2004 general election, in a font-page article (no longer available for free online) called “Voting In a Bubble”:

[subhed and the first line to the story]

Multnomah County has become an island of liberal Democrats that is quickly drifting away from the rest of the state and nation

The political gap between Multnomah County and the rest of Oregon has never been greater than it was in Tuesday’s election.

Mapes and Jeff Kosseff today on Sen. Gordon Smith’s voting record:

Though Smith votes in support of most Republican policies, his occasional swings to the Democratic side are tolerated by the Republican establishment, which understands Oregon’s increasingly Democratic voting pattern.

What is it we’re drifting away from again? The pat answer will be that 2004’s “island of liberal Democrats” is driving the 2007’s “increasingly Democratic voting pattern,” but one of the conclusions of the 2004 article was that the Democratic party was “still searching for a way to expand beyond its increasingly urban base.” Gordon Smith’s been doing his fence-straddling act for a long time now, not just the past seven months.

My own analysis at the time was a bit different, and I had my own maps showing county-by-county voting average deviations from state and national election results and a vote-weighted map of Oregon county deviations from state averages. Plus a couple of other posts at the time, about the arbitrary nature of county boundaries being used to analyze voting patterns and about an assertion that the ratio of urban and rural voters in Multnomah County has been constant for decades.

The other touch I liked in today’s article was the mention of Smith’s drawing “national attention” for calling John Kerry French-looking in calls he did for the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 (he also called Kerry a “socialist”). That was particularly funny because — as I pointed out in an August 2004 post titled “If it Matters to Oregonians, It’s in the LA Times” — that fact didn’t appear in the Oregonian until after it got national attention. Harry Esteve and Edward Walsh’s mention of the call in an article only noted that Smith participated in the call, not that he was saying “It’s not John Kerry’s fault that he looks French.” That item was reported by The Los Angeles Times because:

Some Republicans have referred jokingly to Kerry’s ability to speak French and his physical appearance, but rarely has the reference found its way onto the campaign trail.

Maybe it was unremarkable to Esteve and Walsh. Maybe their editors cut it.

It’s been almost three years since I sent a letter to Sen. Smith asking him to apologize to Franco-Americans like myself for his remarks about “looking French”. Never got an answer.