Kentucky & Oregon: An “Are These Things Still Going On?” Edition Preview

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Two more states go to the polls today as we slowly, but surely, make our way to the end of the primary calendar in the 2016 election cycle.

Today, Democrats and Republicans will vote in Oregon; while Democrats will be voting in Kentucky. The Republicans held their caucuses in the Blue Grass State back on March 5.

Donald Trump is the presumptive republican nominee so there is nothing to really watch for in Oregon tonight on their end. Unless of course he loses. Then it will just be a funny story.

Since that is highly unlikely to happen, let’s focus on the Democrats.

Even though the race between Clinton and Sanders is a foregone conclusion, there is still an actual race going on. Sanders, like he has so many times this year, has put together a few victories in a row after getting wiped out in four of the five states that voted on April 26.

He wound up winning Rhode Island that night and since then has added victories in Indiana and West Virginia. He is looking to keep the streak going in Oregon and Kentucky tonight.

Both states set up well for Sanders. Oregon is one of the more liberal states in the country and has a largely white electorate. It’s a state Obama won handily in his 2008 primary victory over Clinton, and Sanders should be able to pull out a win there as well.

In Kentucky, Sanders is looking to once again clean up with white middle class voters in the heart of “Coal Country.” His message of rebuilding the middle class and railing against trade deals will likely continue to resonate; and Clinton’s remarks about putting coal companies out of business will not do her any favors either.

Clinton may be able to edge out a victory if the state’s African American voters turn out the way they have in other states. Kentucky’s African American population is around 8% so a large turnout, and large margin of victory among them, could help Clinton pull out a victory.

For Clinton, even a close victory somewhere will quiet the, in my opinion, ridiculous narrative that she is limping to the finish line.

We’ll see what happens. Here are the rules for Kentucky and Oregon’s democratic primaries.


Who votes: Closed primary.

Poll closings: Many polls will close at 6:00 p.m. EST. On the western part of the state, the polls will close at 6:00 p.m. CST (7:00 p.m. EST).

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 60 total delegates available: 55 pledged delegates; Five (5) unpledged superdelegates. 37 awarded by district; 18 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.

The district and statewide delegates are awarded on a proportional basis to the candidates receiving at least 15% of the vote.

Kentucky has eight congressional districts, each with an assigned number of delegates to allocate. The two biggest delegate prizes are in CD3 (Louisville) with nine (9) delegates, and CD6 (Frankfort & Lexington) with seven (7) delegates up for grabs.

Polling: There has been very little polling done in Kentucky this year. The most recent poll was taken from March 1 to March 2 by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and it had Clinton leading Sanders 43% to 38%.

Obviously a lot has changed in this race over the last 10 weeks so it’s hard to say how this state will shake out.


Who votes: Closed primary. All votes are cast by mail-in ballot. All ballots must be mailed in or dropped off by 8:00 p.m PST.

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 74 total delegates available: 61 pledged delegates; 13 unpledged superdelegates. 41 awarded by district; 20 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.

The district and statewide delegates are awarded on a proportional basis to the candidates receiving at least 15% of the vote.

There are five congressional districts in Oregon. District 2 is actually split up into two given the size of it. It takes up about two-thirds of the eastern part of the state.

The main delegate prizes in Oregon are districts one (1) and three (3); both of which includes parts of Portland. They allocate nine (9) delegates and 11 delegates respectively.  

Polling: The only recent poll taken in Oregon actually shows Clinton ahead by 15%. A poll taken by Northwest Polling Firm DHM for OBP/Fox 12 in Oregon has Clinton leading Sanders 48% to 33%. The poll was conducted from May 6 until May 9.

The one interesting metric in this poll is among the voters who have yet to mail in their ballots, Clinton and Sanders are running even. Clinton has a sizable lead among voters who had already mailed theirs in.

There have been some polling misses before in this election. Michigan and Indiana come to mind. So it’s possible that Sanders’ organization and the commitment among his supporters could render this poll moot. If not, Clinton pulling out a win here would certainly be a surprise.

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