.From Willamette Week: ...Over the past three decades, the number of registered Democrats in the state has not only failed to keep pace with population growth, it has actually declined in absolute terms. According to the secretary of state's election statistics, there were 794,218 Oregon Democrats in 1976; as of this past May, there were 760,066.
Thirty years ago, 56 percent of registered Oregon voters were Democrats; today, that number is less than 39 percent. ... Democrats not only face a rising Republican tide, they also must compete for a growing and unpredictable cadre of independent voters.
Over the past three decades, voters who register with neither of the major parties have increased far faster than Democrats or Republicans.
Since 1976, nonaffiliated or independent voters have increased by 244 percent and now make up about more than a fifth of the Oregon electorate.
With the two major parties approaching parity, those independent voters play a crucial role in statewide elections. They are nearly impossible to categorize.... [more]