Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Power Lunch: Bill Lunch’s Presentation on Politics

 On September 22, 2010, Bill Lunch spoke at a Mary Leonard Law Society noon-hour event on state and national election trends. Dr. Lunch is a professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Oregon State University, and a longtime political analyst for Oregon Public Broadcasting.  Dr. Lunch began his presentation by distinguishing voter turnout trends for presidential election years (such as 2012) and mid-term election years (such as 2010).  Voting numbers surge in presidential elections years and decline in mid-term election years.  Characteristics in the voting population can also vary depending on a variety of factors.  For the upcoming mid-term elections in November, Dr. Lunch predicts a shift in voter characteristics towards “whiter,” and older, and possibly more male. Such a shift would disproportionaly benefit the Republican Party, Dr. Lunch advised.  He further advised that the decline in President Barack Obama’s popularity will also assist the Republican Party this elections year. 

Dr. Lunch moved on to discuss a variety of state and federal races.  In the race for one of Oregon’s United States Senator, incumbent Ron Wyden currently leads his challengers, including Republican candidate Jim Huffman, by 15 to 20 points.  In the race for one of Washington’s United States Senator, incumbent Patty Murray holds a slight lead over challenger Dino Rossi. 

Dr. Lunch then turned his attention to Oregon’s gubernatorial race.  The Democrat and Republican candidates (John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley, respectively) are in a “dead heat,” with Dudley having a “tiny edge” over Kitzhaber.  However, Dr. Lunch reported that Dudley faces an additional hurdle in the form of Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Greg Kord. Dr. Lunch predicts that Kord will attract 4-5% of conversatives voters, effectively taking away votes from Dudley.  The anticipated division of the conservate vote reflects the fractious nature of the conservative movement in Oregon, according to Dr. Lunch.  As for Kitzhaber, the Democratic candidate has not yet consolidated the state’s progressive base. 

Dr. Lunch also discussed the race for Oregon's 5th congressional district (covering Lincoln, Marion, Polk, and Tillamook counties, most of Clackamas County, and part of Benton and Multnomah counties).  The district is currently represented by Democrat Kurt Schrader.  Dr. Lunch stated that Schrader won easily in 2008 because he had no “serious challenger.”  But in this election, Schrader is in a close race with challenger Scott Bruun.  Dr. Lunch’s presentation included some predictions for state and federal races, as well as scenarios for what might happen if Democrats or Republicans succeed.

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