50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 33. Oregon

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

33. Oregon

Capital: Salem

Nickname: Beaver State

Motto: Alis Volat Propriis

(She Flies With Her Own Wings)

About the State

Oregon is the 9th biggest state in the US in terms of area and, with just over 3.8 million residents, ranks 27th in terms of population.  Before European settlers arrived, the area was home to Native American tribes including the Chinook, Kalapuya and Umpqua.  The Spanish were the first from the Old World to explore the area in the 16th century, using ships that departed from the Philippines, which was a colony of theirs at the time.  In the 1700s, James Cook traversed the region, searching for the Northwest passage – a sea route through the Arctic Ocean; then, in the 19th century, Lewis and Clark scouted it as part of their exploration of the land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.  Joint occupation of Oregon by the US and Britain was agreed upon in a Treaty of 1818, with the latter eventually ceding all control of everything below the 49th parallel – the border between the United States and Canada.

Pioneers from America continued to settle in the region, while the establishment of the Oregon Trail by the 1840s increased migration from the rest of the United States.  In 1848, the Oregon Territory was organised by the Federal Government and over the next decade, the population continued to increase, in part because the Native Americans were forced to relocate to reservations, with settlers moving onto the land they had vacated.  On the 14th of February, 1859, Oregon became the 33rd state of the Union and, when the Civil War broke out two years later, it remained loyal to President Lincoln and provided men to serve in the Northern army.  The state continued to grow in the 19th century, as railroads spread across the nation, allowing lumber and wheat to be transported to other parts of the country after being produced in Oregon.

The state’s economy is based around agriculture, Oregon produces 95% of the nation’s hazelnuts and has the third most wineries, while its farmers also yield cattle, sheep and dairy products; forestry, although that has been in decline in recent decades due to forest fires and over-harvesting of the resource; and tourism, with natural features such as Crater Lake National Park being particularly popular.  It also has one of the largest salmon-fishing industries in the world; Nike has its headquarters near Beaverton and there is a large technology sector in the state – nicknamed Silicon Forest – with Intel being the largest private for-profit employer in Oregon.  There is just one “Big Four” sports team that makes it home in the state – the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA – but Eugene is known as the Track and Field Capital of the World and hosted the US Olympic Trials this year, as well as being the place where the Brit, Mo Farah, trained, who won the 5,000m and 10,000m gold medals at London 2012.  It is the only state of the Union to have two different sides to its flag – the reverse is shown to the left here, with the front being at the top of the page.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 7

2008 Result: Obama 57.1% McCain 40.8%

Latest Poll: Obama +9%

In the 10 Presidential elections between 1948 and 1984, Oregon voted for the Democratic candidate just once – in 1964 when Lyndon B Johnson carried the state.  However, from 1988 onwards, the GOP have failed to win there in once, with Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama all receiving Oregon’s Electoral College Votes in their campaigns.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: Oregon is not the place to look for excitement in this November’s Congressional elections – there are no Senate contests this year; and the five incumbent Representatives the state has in the House – currently composed of four Democrats and 1 Republican – are all expected to win another term in office.

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