clock menu more-arrow no yes

Oregon Democratic primary election results: Bernie Sanders wins

Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders.
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton in Oregon on Tuesday night, winning a symbolic victory if doing little to improve his actual chances at the Democratic nomination.

The state was called for Sanders around 11:15 pm by the Associated Press.

Regardless of the results, Hillary Clinton has an essentially insurmountable delegate and popular vote lead in the contest overall. She's going to be the nominee, and — while the final numbers are still being counted — Sanders's victory in Oregon will not meaningfully change the state of the race.

Still, Sanders's landslide win may offer some tea leaves about the future of Democratic politics once his candidacy exits the national stage. And it could help us understand what it will take for future Democrats to capitalize on the coalition he's built throughout the primary.

Why is Bernie Sanders so popular in Oregon?

Oregon's Democrats combine Sanders's three best demographics — young voters, progressives, and white people — in hugely disproportionate margins relative to the party as a whole.

Just 3 percent of voters in the state's 2008 Democratic primary were African American, compared to close to 12 percent across the entire primary, according to the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. Clinton's base throughout the primary has been black voters, who have broken for her by more than 70 percent in several states.

Bolstering Sanders's strength in the state is the strongly progressive bent of its Democrats.

That may sound surprising, given that Oregon does not support Democratic presidential candidates by particularly big margins. Kyle Kondik of the Center for Responsive Politics, for instance, says that Oregon tends to lean left — but not dramatically so.

But Oregon's Democrats tend to be much more liberal than the rest of the country's liberals, while its Republicans tend to be much more conservative than the rest of the country's conservatives, according to a story by FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver.

In 2004, for instance, the average John Kerry voter in Oregon was the most liberal of any state in the country — higher than in Vermont or the District of Columbia, according to Silver.

The last critical factor helping Sanders in Oregon was likely the state's new voter registration law, which automatically signs up anyone with a driver's license to vote, according to OregonLive.com.

Because of that law, the number of registered voters between 18 and 29 has soared by 21 percent since September alone. And, if anything's been clear about the primary, it's that young people love Bernie Sanders.

In that, if little else, Oregon looks like it was no exception.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Kyle Kondik works for the Center for Responsive Politics, rather than the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.