Why Drazan could win

As I watch Heidi St. John play the far-right spoiler in the Congressional race in the 'Couve, I've been thinking about the three-way race currently under way for Oregon governor. The unaffiliated candidate, "Machine Gun" Johnson, a former Democrat, is making quite interesting what would otherwise be a drab contest between the Democrat Tina Kohoutek and the Republican Trumpy Christine Drazan.

Looking at the governor's race in strictly algebraic terms, I'm beginning to see that Drazan has a good chance of winning. Why? Hear me out.

Let's start with the results of the last gubernatorial election, in 2018, when Trump was President. Knute-We-Hardly-Knew-Ye Buehler, the Republican, got 43.7 percent of the vote, losing to Killer Kate Brown's 50.1 percent. Write-ins and the windmill-tilter parties' candidates drew 6.2 percent of the vote.

So consider those Buehler voters, and the marginalized 6.2 percent.

Do you think Drazan will get 43.7 percent, like Knute did? I think probably not. Between the abortion issue and the presence of Johnson, she'll come in somewhere in the 30's. But where in the 30's? That's a key question, to which I'll come back momentarily.

Next, consider the write-ins and fringe parties. Will they get 6.2 percent again? With Johnson there to absorb voter discontent with the Dems and Repubs, probably not. But will the windmill-tilters and write-ins wind up with 3 percent? 5 percent? Again, an important number.

Because here's where life gets tough for Kotek and Johnson. Let's say Drazan gets 34 percent and the fringe vote is 3 percent. That would leave 63 percent for TK and BJ to split between them. For one of them to get to 35 percent, they'd have to beat the other 35 to 28, a 7 percentage point margin. Can Kotek beat Johnson by 7 points, or vice versa?

It gets tougher if, say, Drazan draws 35 percent and the marginals take 5 percent. To get to 36 percent, Kotek would have to beat Johnson, or vice versa, by 12 percentage points, 36 to 24. Is that actually going to happen? 

Another way of looking at it is this: The closer it is between Kotek and Johnson, the easier it will be for Drazan to win.

Now, my track record as a betting man is mighty poor, but here's what I'd predict if I had to: Drazan gets 35 percent, and the marginals get 3 percent. That means Johnson would have to beat Kotek, or vice versa, 36 to 26, a 10 point margin; otherwise, Drazan wins.

And so if you want to avoid Drazan at all costs, you should be hoping, and perhaps voting, for a landslide in Kotek vs. Johnson. I'd guess Kotek is going to win that head-to-head, but by a landslide? Dubious.


  1. The Republican share of registration in Oregon is less than 25%. Polling historically shows that 15-20% of Republicans consider themselves pro choice. The GOP punches above its weight in turn out, but I think Betsy peels away many of them on the choice issue (which was never a high voting priority for pro choice Republicans before Dobbs). I think Drazen tops out around 30%.

    1. The party will lose a third of its support over abortion? I hope so.

  2. Not gonna happen.

    Tina is not going to lose. Period.


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