Returns continue to favor chances for GOP

Republicans are outvoting Democrats by 3 percent, according to ballots turned in as of Friday in Jackson County, with signs that turnout will surge by Election Day on Tuesday.

On Friday, Republican turnout was already at 40.8 percent, with only 37.6 percent of Democrats having turned in ballots. Nonaffiliates were at 23.8 percent and all other parties were at 25.7 percent.

Earlier in the week, Republicans had just over a 1 percent lead in voter turnout compared with Democrats.

Overall voter turnout on Friday morning stood at 35.5 percent, greater than the previous two midterm elections, when turnout stood at about 30 percent at the same time.

"It has really picked up," said Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker.

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is predicting 72 percent voter turnout, and Walker said we should hit at least 70 percent in Jackson County.

Voter turnout in the state stood at 33 percent late Thursday night, according to the Secretary of State's office.

Statewide, 39 percent of Republicans had voted compared with 35 percent of Democrats.

Doug Breidenthal, chair of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said he continues to get a record number of people volunteering.

Allen Hallmark, chair of the Jackson County Democratic Central Committee, said he was disappointed Democrats didn't have a better showing so far.

"It's the antics of Washington that have really put the spurs in the Republican and conservative base," Breidenthal said.

"That just means we have to work harder," Hallmark said. "We can turn this around in the last couple of days."

Breidenthal said some studies conducted by his party indicate Republican turnout might outpace Democrats by four to eight percentage points.

"I would expect the spread to increase a bit further," he said.

If Republicans come out in force, he said it could create some surprise upsets, such as the race between Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, and his challenger, Republican Jim Huffman.

Hallmark said a low turnout by Democrats could hurt the potentially tight race between Sen. Alan Bates, a Medford Democrat, and his challenger, Ashland resident Dave Dotterrer, a Republican.

Hallmark said he's hoping Democrats realize what's at stake if they don't vote.

"It's no doubt that it's a tough time for Democrats as compared with 2008," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or e-mail

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