Enthusiasm among President Donald Trump’s supporters appeared strong throughout Oregon — ‘Trump train’ caravans affixed with flags regularly made their way up and down Interstate 5 and lawn signs signaling Republican support dotted the countryside and many suburban streets — but voters affirmed that Oregon remains a Democrat stronghold, with Benton County voting at among the highest rates for Joe Biden.
Democrat voters turned out at a higher rate to vote for Biden on Tuesday than they did for Hillary Clinton in 2016 throughout much of the state, according to the Register-Guard. Biden in 2020 outpaced Clinton in 2016 by six to seven percentage points in Lane, Marion, and Polk counties.
Biden garnered about 57% of votes statewide, outperforming Clinton in 2016 by about seven points. Benton County voted for Biden at a rate of about 70%, a two-point increase over Clinton in 2016, and President Trump lost support in the county, falling two points to 29% in 2020.
Cities throughout the Willamette Valley, where the technology sector and higher education contribute to much of the economy, tended to vote Democrat at a much higher rate than other areas of Oregon.
Trump performed poor in the most urban counties statewide while garnering particularly strong support in the large rural counties of east and southern Oregon. Largely metropolitan areas including Portland and much of the Willamette Valley voted strongly for Biden whereas communities that rely on agriculture, timber, or industrial manufacturing tended to vote for President Trump.
About 65% of Washington County voters pulled for Biden as did about 62% of Lane County voters. But that may reflect changing demographic trends — Washington County was split in the 2000 Bush-Gore race for the presidency.
Those counties also tend to be more racially diverse than other areas of Oregon. While President Trump garnered a higher percentage of minority voters among the general electorate, those Oregon counties voted Democrat at a higher rate than in 2016.
But the strong showing for both candidates may be indicative of broader political polarization — third party votes, including write-ins, were down eight points from 11% of returned ballots in 2016.
Among races for statewide office, GOP candidates received about 40% of the vote on Tuesday. The last Republican to hold statewide office was Secretary of State Dennis Richardson who won the seat in 2016 but was replaced by Republican Bev Clarno upon his death. Before Richardson, a Republican hadn’t won statewide office since 2002.
By Gabriel Perry