CORVALLIS, OR -- Around 24% of Deschutes County voters have returned their ballots, as of Tuesday. But, a week before the 2022 midterms, statewide turnout is just 19%; lower than many experts expected at this point.
Campaigns are pushing their message hard and Chris Stout, Associate Professor of Political Science at Oregon State University, expects the gubernatorial race to send turnout upward in the next few days, "Maybe because it is a closer election than in the past, a lot of people are weighing their options more than when the election’s largely decided, and are taking a little more time before they turn it in."
He doesn’t think overall turnout will be significantly lower than the 2018 mid-terms, when it was just under 68%. But it’s possible some voters are simply turned off by the process, "There’s been a lot of negative advertising in the state. And there’s some work that shows at a point, people just get really sick of the negative advertising and just shut off politics." Stout adds, "I think [turnout] is particularly lagging amongst young voters, and so that’s probably not a good sign for Democrats. At least nationally, that has been the case."
OSU Professor of Women and Gender studies Susan Shaw says hot-button issues like abortion have energized female voters, "Older women who fought long and hard for that, and who remember the pre-Roe days, and also now younger women who stand to lose their access to abortion rights." She says three women running for Governor of Oregon is likely to impact the demographics of voter returns, as well. She says turnout is critical to both parties, who are pushing not only to get people to vote, but to get the “right” people to vote.