Is it two Oregons: Urban vs. Rural?

“The difference in this country is not red vs. blue,” Neil Levesque, director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College, said in a Wall Street Journal article today. “It’s urban vs. rural.”

The Journal article went on to say:

“In many ways, the split between red Republican regions and blue Democratic ones-and their opposing views about the role of government-is an extension of the cultural divide between rural Americans and those living in cities and suburbs. As Democrats have come to dominate U.S. cities, it is Republican strength in rural areas that allows the party to hold control of the House and remain competitive in presidential elections. …”

A just released Oregon Values and Beliefs survey ( makes it clear the urban vs. rural divide certainly holds true in Oregon.

Here’s a sampling of some key survey results broken down by regions in the state:

(1) Socially, Oregonians consider themselves:

Portland Metro Area: 47%
Central Oregon: 29%
Eastern Oregon: 23%

Portland Metro Area: 22%
Central Oregon: 37%
Eastern Oregon: 48%

(2) Oregon spends too much on public services and taxes should be reduced

Portland Metro Area: 28%
Central Oregon: 29%
Eastern Oregon: 46%

(3) Oregon should increase timber harvests in dense, over-crowded forest stands

Agree, that’s desirable
Portland Metro Area: 48%
Central Oregon: 66%
Eastern Oregon: 67%

Further evidence of the urban/rural split in Oregon is the results of the 2012 governor’s race between Kitzhaber and Dudley. A county-by-county review of the voting results illustrates the point. Kitzhaber carried only 6 counties, with big advantages coming particularly in Multnomah County (70.5% vs. 27.3%), Lane County (56.9% vs. 39.9%),and Benton County (59.4% vs. 38%). The Multnomah County vote was the kicker because of its large, concentrated population, which voted 198,157 for Kitzhaber and just 76,914 for Dudley.

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