Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 5.15.08


Who’s Votin’ Who?
EW hits the streets to survey local voters
By Cali Bagby, Camilla Mortensen, Katrina Nattress, Victoria Stephens and Megan Udow. Photos by Cali Bagby

EW hit the pavement this week in an informal survey to see how the men and women on the street are planning to vote. The ballots are in your mailboxes, and Oregon is in the middle of a presidential primary that actually seems to matter this year. So are the political pundits right? Is the average Democratic voter going to get mad and vote McCain if her choice doesn’t win in the primary?

Voters (and nonvoters) were grabbed at random downtown, in the Whiteaker, at the Campbell Senior Center, the UO Street Faire and everywhere else our interns could walk or bike.

Thirty-eight potential voters agreed to be surveyed with an age range from the 18-year-old first time voter to the oldest voter who spoke to us, casting his ballot this year at 78.

Our survey yielded 29 Democrats, two Independents, three Republicans, one Libertarian, one Green and two people not registered with a particular party.

According to our informal election, Barack Obama has the lead in the primary with 14 votes, Hillary Clinton follows with five votes. Sen. John McCain trails the pack in Lane County with only one vote from the three Republican voters. Of the other two Republicans, Stewart Jefferson says he wants Obama in November, and Alex Francois isn’t sure who gets his November ballot. “I’m not that loyal to my party,” he says.

Seven local voters are not voting in Democratic primary because they are registered with other parties. Seven more voters are undecided for the primary. One respondent declined to say which Democrat has her vote. Three disillusioned survey participants have chosen not to vote. “It’s ridiculous more people vote for American Idol than for the president,” says Nick Sloff.

And what about the dreaded Democratic voters who say they will vote for McCain if their choice doesn’t win? Registered Independent voter Cory Neu says he’d vote for Obama in November, but if Obama doesn’t get the nomination, his vote would go to McCain. The dedicated volunteers at the headquarters of both campaigns say they would vote Democratic in November no matter what.

Aside from Obama voter Johanna King who says, “If Hillary wins, I will move out of the country,” crossing parties to vote Republican in November if their candidate loses just doesn’t seem to be an issue for voters in Lane County. As Democrat Annetta Forrer says, “You don’t always get to vote for who you want in the general elections. … Suck it up.”


The Questions:

1. When did you register to vote and why?

2. Do you plan to vote in the May primary election?

3. What party are you registered with?

4. Which presidential candidate are you voting for in the primary?

5. If your candidate doesn’t get the nomination then whom will you vote for in November?

6. Can you imagine your position changing between now and November?


Kailyn Knight, 23, student/activist

1. I re-registered as a Democrat on April 29th because I was scared I wasn’t registered as a Democrat.

2. Yes, because I think it’s a really close and important race. It’s going to be up to Oregon. I’ve heard this race is going down as the closest race in history.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. I would vote for Clinton. Both are really good candidates.

6. No.


Maryann Petersen, 42, practitioner of Chinese medicine

1. Yes, when I was 18. Everyone should vote if we have the right. We have a say in the political process.

2. Yes, to vote for my candidate.

3. Democrat.

4. Clinton.

5. I’d vote for Obama.

6. Probably not.


Johanna King, 23, student

1. I re-registered to change parties. I was Independent, but then I went liberal so I could vote for Obama.

2. Yes, I really want to see Hillary fail.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. I’d have to re-evaluate all candidates. If Hillary wins, I will move out of the country.

6. Yes, if someone is super-persuasive.


Blythe Collins-Niskanen, 56, potter

1. Yes, I’ve always been registered since I was 18.

2. Yes, because we finally had a chance to make a difference and be heard. I’m so sick of Oregon being trashed because we’re Democrats. Bush hates us, he wants to send our boys to war and cut down our trees. I have friends who need health care. A lot of us could use decent health care.

3. Democrat

4. Obama.

5. I’ll vote for Hillary.

6. No.


Nick Sloff, 21 student

1. It’s ridiculous more people vote for American Idol than for the president.

2. I’m not voting this year because the world is going to end in 2012, and I’m convinced Clinton will win although I want Obama to win.

3. Democrat.

4. Won’t vote for Obama because I think it’s a lost cause.

5/6. According to Thomas Jefferson, just to keep things fresh people should overthrow the government every seven years.


Aaron Teeman, 22, bingo caller at the ARC of Oregon

1, Yes, when I was 18. I wanted to vote.

3. Green Party.

4. I want Barack. I like his speeches. I want change; that’s a big change for this country.

5. I’d vote for Hillary.

6. No.


Evelyn Kurihara Philbrook, 55, facilitator

1. Yes, I first registered when I was 18 in California. As a Japanese-American I’ve always believed that if you don’t use your vote, it might be taken away. The right to vote should be taken seriously.

2. No, I voted in primaries in Illinois.

3. Democrat.

4. I voted for Clinton.

5. I’ll vote for Obama.

6. No.


Paul Edson , 22, student and sales associate

1. I registered when I was 18. I wanted to vote to take part in government. It’s our duty to vote.

2. Yes, we’re at an interesting time in our country because the majority of people don’t like the president. We shouldn’t be lazy; we should take part in what’s going on in our own country.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. I don’t know at this point.

6. Possibly upon further education.


Cory Neu, 36, Realtor

1. Yes, I registered in 1989 when I turned 18.

2. No, I am registered as an Independent.

3. Independent.

6. If Obama wins, I will vote for him. If he doesn’t, I’ll vote for McCain.


Chandler Jordan IV, 30, Runs 13th Avenue Market

1. Registered before I was 18 because of patriotism

2. Republican.

3. Will vote for McCain.

6. No way!


Brendan Galipeau, 22, student

1. I registered in California when I was 18. Every time I’ve moved, I have re-registered. I registered in October for the primaries. I wanted to re-register for the special election to vote on fixing land rights.

2. Yes, I think Oregon is actually going to make a difference in the primaries this time.

3. Democrat.

4. I’m undecided.

6. I’ll vote for whoever wins the prim-ary in November. There are things I like and dislike in both candidates. I don’t want McCain to win, but I wouldn’t be destroyed if McCain wins. He’s pretty moderate and works with both parties.


Jenna Nishimura, 22, student and part-time employee at the UO Duck Store

1. I registered when I was 18. I was hoping to get Bush out of a second term. I re-registered in March while in line to see Obama because I changed my address.

2. Yes, there is an opportunity to get a new name in office that’s not in the Bush family. It would be interesting to see another Clinton in office, but I think Obama will win. I really hope it’s someone who will give us a lot of change, or I am applying to a graduate school in another country.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. If Clinton wins the nomination, I will vote for her.

6. Unless something horrible comes out on Obama, like a criminal scandal. Or if Obama dies I’ll change my position.


Jeffrey Wells, 58, Register-Guard salesman

1. Yes, as soon as I got here 12 years ago. I was a petitioner.

2. Yes, I think it’s really exciting this year. We’re either voting for a black man or a white woman.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. I guess Hillary.

6. No.


JB Rinaldi, 22, student

1. Yes, I registered to vote a month ago because I was attacked by a voter activist.

2. Yes, because I want Obama to win.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. If it’s between McCain and Clinton, I’ll probably end up voting for Clinton. I like Clinton’s views more than McCain’s.

6. Yes, if Obama doesn’t win in the primaries.


Donna Frazier, 59, candle seller

1. Yes, a few months ago. I have to go from Green to Democrat. After the primaries I’ll go back to Green.

2. Yes, It’s always important to vote, especially this year because of closeness of Democratic race.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama. Early on I was on the fence, but I think the world is ready for someone who’s not a Clinton or a Bush.

5. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I’d vote for Hillary.

6. No.


David Van Landingham, 31, publishing

1. Yes, registered four years ago. I felt that voting would make a change.

2. No.

3. Registered as “other.” I want to put trust in what I can do in the life that I live and how that can be my political stance instead of putting trust in the political system.

4. I don’t know whom I’d vote for if I did vote.

5/6. I’m not planning on voting in the general election.


Scott Gray, 44, carpenter

1. Yes, I registered when I moved here 11 years ago. I’ve always voted. It’s the right thing to do even when you feel like it isn’t doing any good.

2. No, I’m registered as an Independent.

3. Independent.


Stewart Jefferson, 51, Eugene Public Library

1. I’m registered to vote.

3. Republican (but is wearing an Obama pin).

5. I’d like to see Obama be the nominee.

6. I’ll probably stick to Republican if he doesn’t get the nomination. I’m suffering from Clinton fatigue already!


Ed Aragon, 78, retired

1.Yes, I’ve voted eight times. I had a prison record and they wouldn’t let me vote in the 50’s.

2. Yes.

3. Democrat.

4. I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Obama doesn’t have the experience. I don’t think he could handle the presidency.

5. My position is firm. It’s always been firm. Obama is too young.

6. I’d vote for Obama. I don’t want McCain at all. Although I don’t think it really matters because the Congress keeps the president in line.


Randy Michler, 18, student

1. I’m not registered, but I plan on doing it before registration closes.

2. It will be the first election I can vote in.

3. Registering as a Democrat.

4. I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for. I like that Clinton and Obama want to take troops out of Iraq, but I want to vote for McCain because I don’t think he’s going to win.

5. I don’t really care who’s president; I just want to vote.

6. My position may change by November; I’m indecisive.   


Trent Thompson, 37, bartender at the Keg

1. Yes, I registered years ago, when I was 18.

2. No, I’m registered as a Libertarian.

3. Libertarian.

6. Definitely because I don’t exactly know the candidate’s platforms. I prefer anything that gets us out of Iraq.


Ben Peterson, 25, retail sales and occasional volunteer at the Obama Eugene headquarters.

1. Yes.

2. Yes. I’m purely political person.

3. Democrat.

4. I’m voting for Obama.

5/6. If Obama isn’t nominated, I will vote for Clinton, but I wouldn’t volunteer for her. There is a difference of enthusiasm there. But I would vote for her as the only other viable candidate. But Obama is the candidate I truly believe in.


Cody Gilbert, 29, supervisor at the Downtown Athletic Club

1. Yes, I registered in 2000. I was applying for residency at the UO. I was told by my counselor that it would help me.

2. No. I guess I quit voting after our president was put in office after not being elected. Scrap the electoral system. It’s possible to be elected even if they don’t have the majority of votes.

3. Democrat.

4. Not voting for anyone.

5. Not voting for anyone.

6. Not likely. I won’t change my position unless they get rid of the electoral system.


Tess Fields, director of women’s outreach with the Clinton campaign in Oregon and a women’s reproductive rights advocate.

1. Yes.

2. Yes.

3. Democrat.

4. I am a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and her positions on health care and woman’s rights.

5/6. If Clinton didn’t win the primary, I would continue to support the Democratic Party’s nominee rather than McCain — both Democratic candidates are in sync with that drumbeat and have that in common. Democrats need to stay galvanized through November. You can’t underestimate the other side.


Annetta Forrer, 63, writer/trainer

1. I registered to vote when I was 21 because it was my responsibility. It’s different now.

2. I plan to vote in May.

3. Democrat.

4. I’m voting for Clinton in the primaries.

5. If Clinton doesn’t get nomination, I will still vote.

You don’t always get to vote for who you want in the general elections. … Suck it up.


Ellyn Herman, 19, student

1. When I was 18. It’s a privilege.

2. Yes.

3. Democrat

4. Obama.

5. I don’t know.

6. You never know.


Susan Anderson, UO professor of German

1. I registered 20 years ago when I moved to Oregon.

2. Yes, I prefer not to say why.

3. Democrat.

4. Prefer not to say.

5. I’ll vote Democrat.

6. I won’t change.


Liz Cooney, 19, student

1. Yes, re-registered a week ago because I changed my address.

2. Yes.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. I don’t know.

6. I don’t think so.


Alex Francois, 21, student

1. Yes, in California. I registered in October for the last presidential election.

2. It’s a very key election. There is a big shift in political power.

3. Republican

4. It depends on how the primaries go.

5/6. I’m not that loyal to my party. There are certain views I have aligned with the Republican Party.


Matt Evensen, 22, student

1. Yes, Every vote counts.

2. I want to change the way our government is going right now.

3. Democrat.

4. I will vote for Obama.

5. I really don’t want to vote for Clinton; if she wins, I don’t know what I’m going to do.

6. If my candidate doesn’t win the primary, then potentially I could change.


Kelsey Blaser, 19, works at Shoe-a-holic

1. I registered right after I turned 18 because I was excited and there were local ballots/measures.

2. Yes.

3. Democrat.

4. I’ll vote for Clinton.

5. I will be really pleased with anyone other than George Bush.

6. I doubt it. I’ve done quite a bit of research so far.


Doug Keszler, 50, OSU professor of chemistry

1. I registered when I turned 18.

2. Yes, the country has important issues.

3. Democrat.

4. I’m leaning towards Obama.

5. I’ll definitely vote Democrat.

6. No.


Samuel Brewer, 20, student

1. I registered today because I want to make my opinion count.

2. Yes. I care about who is the nominee.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. I’ll vote Democratic if he doesn’t win.

6. No.


Debbie Hebert, 50+, retired

1. I registered at 18 because I wanted to vote.

2. I will vote in the primaries.

3. Democrat.

4. I am undecided about Clinton and Obama.

5/6. I’m just undecided; I think a lot of surprises could happen.


Jeff Hurwit, 59, UO professor of art history

1.Yes, when I first arrived in Eugene from back East.

2. Yes, I believe it’s important to vote on local issues and candidates for other positions.

3. Democrat.

4. Obama.

5. I’ll vote for the Democratic candidate no matter what.

6. No.


John Mitchell, 55. PR practitioner/ UO adjunct professor of the School of Journalism and Communication

1. I re-registered when I moved.

2. Yes, it’s an interesting slate. I tend to vote most of the time. During a presidential election year I definitely vote.

3. Democrat.

4. Undecided. I’m leaning towards Barack if he could get rid of his preacher.

5/6. No way.


Tom Pellinger, 37, student/doctoral candidate

1. Yes, I think this is a pivotal election in our nation’s history and as such I feel obligated to take part by voting.

2. Yes.

3. Democrat.

4. Undecided.

5/6. Changing my position would depend on becoming more intimately knowledgeable about each candidate.


Anala Miller, 27, teacher

1. I’m registered in Pennsylvania.

2/3. I didn’t vote in primaries because I wasn’t registered for a particular party.

4. I would’ve voted for Obama. I feel there’s more integrity to him. He feels less like he’s trying to please people. I believe he has more of a fighting chance against McCain.

If Hillary wins the primaries, I will vote for her. I don’t think she’s a bad person, I just would be more excited if Obama won — either way it’s pretty cool that there is an African-American and woman candidate. Things are looking up.