Category Archives: OREGON

Oregon Completes Redistricting

Oregon’s new congressional map features six seats for the first time.

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2021 — Tuesday night, the state of Oregon became the first in the country to complete the redistricting process.

After Republicans decided not to break the quorum in the current legislative session because redistricting power in Oregon solely reverts to the Democratic Secretary of State if the legislature deadlocks, the Democratic House and Senate passed the new congressional, state Senate, and state House maps and sent them to Gov. Kate Brown (D). She immediately signed all three into law, thus the culmination of redistricting 2021 in the Beaver State.

The new congressional map features six seats for the first time, as Oregon was awarded a new district in reapportionment. The Democratic strategy was one of pushing the partisan envelope to the max, but the end result may force them to witness more competitive campaigns than they desire.

The final map looks to have two solid Democratic districts (1 & 3) and one safe Republican seat (2). The remaining three districts (4, 5 & 6) all lean Democratic to varying degrees. The Democrats’ idea is to create a 5D-1R map, but it’s possible in a good Republican year that the GOP gains two, and in a wave election could conceivably even add a third to their partisan column.

The 1st and 3rd Districts share the city of Portland, with CDs 5 and 6 coming into the metro area to annex some of the outer suburbs. The Portland area region is what gives those districts the Democrats the need to tip them further left.

The member in the most difficult situation is Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby). He won his 2020 re-election with only a 52-45 percent margin against a Republican opponent who spent just $221,000 on her campaign effort. More than half of Schrader’s current constituency is now in new District 6, and the partisan numbers in District 5 are slightly worse than they were in the previous version. Therefore, it is a virtual certainty that Rep. Schrader will draw significant Republican opposition in his new district.

An Oregon incumbent who needed an influx of Democrats is House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield). He defeated Republican Alek Skarlatos, 51-46 percent, after the GOP challenger raised and spent over $5.4 million. Of the three new potentially swing districts, the DeFazio 4th is now the strongest Democratic seat but still could play competitively in a wave Republican year.

Data research conducted by the staff at Dave’s Redistricting website and augmented through the Daily Kos Elections statistical analysis provides us with some early partisan details. The model races they use are from 2016 and 2018.

Below are the key population and partisan numbers for the new seats:

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Oregon’s New Seat

Current Oregon US Congressional Districts Map


By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2021 — Oregon earned a sixth congressional seat in the 2021 apportionment, but exactly where that district will be placed on the Beaver State’s new map is not particularly obvious.

Like most states, Oregon handles redistricting through the legislative process and Democrats have firm control of all three legs of the legislative stool. In addition to Gov. Kate Brown (D), the party has a 18-11 margin in the state Senate with one Independent. Their majority in the state House of Representatives is similarly large, 37-22, with one vacancy. Yet, the partisan breakdown of the state might make drawing a solid 5D-1R map surprisingly somewhat difficult.

Currently, the five congressional districts are not obviously gerrymandered, as the seats are drawn in block form. Naturally, all but two cluster around the Portland metropolitan area, the state’s dominant population region.

The five incumbents are all senior, with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Washington County) being the most junior with her original election coming in a special 2012 contest. The delegation dean is House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) who was first elected in 1986.

As you can see from the following chart, using 2019 population numbers since the Census Bureau will not be delivering census tract data to the states until after Aug. 15, the five districts are remarkably equivalent in relation to population size.

DISTRICT INCUMBENT 2020% POPULATION REG. VOTERS
1 BONAMICI 64.6% 858,875 570,186
2 BENTZ 59.9% 841,022 598,375
3 BLUMENAUER 73.0% 853,116 588,614
4 DeFAZIO 51.5% 820,504 588,508
5 SCHRADER 51.9% 844,220 578,609

The population figures suggest that each district will have to shed between 115,000 to 155,000 people in order to create six CDs with equal population, likely a number around 710,000 individuals for this state.

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