Politics of Oregon facts for kids

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Like many other U.S. states, the politics of Oregon largely concerns regional issues. Oregon leans Democratic as a state, with both U.S. Senators from the Democratic party, as well as four out of Oregon's five U.S. Representatives. The state has voted Democratic, by relatively small margins, since 1988 in presidential elections. Both houses of Oregon's legislative assembly have been under Democratic control since the 2012 elections.

The state is broken up into two main geographically separate political areas: the liberal cities of the Willamette Valley and the rest of the state, whose voters are moving from conservative to libertarian. While about 47% of the population of Oregon lives in the Portland metropolitan area as of 2013, the state has a rural population with generally conservative views on same-sex marriage and state taxes. On most other issues, however, the state leans considerably left, including on public health care, medical marijuana, assisted dying and environmental protections.


For the first half of the 20th century, Oregon was the most consistently Republican west coast state. In 1954, the upset of incumbent Republican Senator Guy Cordon by Democrat Richard L. Neuberger, along with Democratic wins in the U.S. House and statewide races and pickups of fourteen and two seats in the state House and Senate, respectively, signaled the beginning of a shift towards the Democratic Party. The last Republican governor of Oregon was Victor G. Atiyeh, who served from 1979–1987. Since 1988, Oregon voters have consistently favored Democratic candidates for most major elected positions, including the U.S. presidency.

The longest-serving governor in Oregon history is John Kitzhaber, who served two consecutive terms as governor, then left office before returning to office by winning a third term in 2010 ahead of Republican and former Portland Trail Blazer Chris Dudley and the 2014 election against Republican Dennis Richardson. Kitzhaber submitted his resignation in February 2015 after allegations of financial impropriety involving his partner, Cylvia Hayes, and certain lobbying efforts.

Political geography

Oregon's politics are largely divided by the Cascade Mountains, with much of western Oregon leaning Democratic and eastern Oregon leaning Republican. Republicans do have some strongholds in the western part of the state, however, such as Linn County, where the Republican presidential candidate has won in every election since 1980. Southern Oregon is also a Republican stronghold, except in Jackson County, which frequently votes for both Republican and Democratic candidates.

In the 1998 gubernatorial election, the only county won by Republican candidate Bill Sizemore was Malheur County.

Based on voting data from the 2012 presidential election, Ontario in Malheur County was rated as the most Republican in the state. Gresham in Multnomah County was rated as the most Democratic.

In the 2016 presidential election, Republican candidate Donald Trump performed best in Lake County, where he received 77% of the vote. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton performed best in Multnomah County, where she received 73% of the vote. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson performed best in Gilliam County, where he received 8% of the vote.

Key issues

Key issues in Oregon include:

  • Employment
  • Environmental protection
  • Native American relations (particularly in respect to gambling and casinos)
  • Public health care
  • Public transportation
  • School funding
  • Taxes
  • Land use

Population's political ideology

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2016 41.1% 742,506 51.7% 934,631
2012 42.15% 754,175 54.24% 970,488
2008 40.40% 738,475 56.75% 1,037,291
2004 47.19% 866,831 51.35% 943,163
2000 46.46% 713,577 47.01% 720,342
1996 39.06% 538,152 47.15% 649,641
1992 32.53% 475,757 42.48% 621,314
1988 46.61% 560,126 51.28% 616,206
1984 55.91% 685,700 43.74% 536,479
1980 48.33% 571,044 38.67% 456,890
1976 47.78% 492,120 47.62% 490,407
1972 52.45% 486,686 42.33% 392,760
1968 49.83% 408,433 43.78% 358,866
1964 35.96% 282,779 63.72% 501,017
1960 52.56% 408,060 47.32% 367,402
1956 55.25% 406,393 44.75% 329,204
1952 60.54% 420,815 38.93% 270,579

Similar to the West Coast states of California and Washington, Oregon has a high percentage of people who identify as liberals. A 2013 Gallup poll that surveyed the political ideology of residents in every state found that people in Oregon identified as:

  • 34.8% moderate
  • 33.6% conservative (the 10th least conservative state)
  • 27.9% liberal (the 5th most liberal state)

Another study on the state's political ideology noted that the state's conservatives were the most conservative of any state (more so than Utah or Tennessee) and that the state's liberals were more liberal than any state (more so than Vermont or D.C.).

Political parties

As of December 2016, there were 2,571,722 registered voters in Oregon and their political party affiliations (highest to lowest) were:

  • 38.0% Democratic Party
  • 27.7% Republican Party
  • 27.2% "Non-affiliated" with any party
  • 4.6% Independent Party
  • 0.7% Libertarian Party
  • 0.4% Working Families Party
  • 0.4% Pacific Green Party
  • 0.1% Constitution Party
  • <0.1% Progressive Party
  • <0.1% Americans Elect Party
  • 0.7% with other political parties

Politics of Oregon Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.