Outsider Perceptions of Smith in Oregon
A well meaning poster at DailyKos makes, I think, a mistake in her analysis of Gordon Smith:
... the biggest drawback right now for Smith's Democratic challengers in this race is his 38 percent approval rating among Democrats, a testament to the importance of Iraq as an eduring issue. Smith's break with Bush on Iraq so far seems to be trumping other issues for at least a portion of Oregon's Dems, despite the fact that he has voted with Bush 90 percent of the time.
Here's the comment I made in response to this:
I think Smith's approval among Democrats has little to do with his positioning on Iraq. In fact, my impression is that most people think said positioning is more opportunistic than idealistic.
No, the simple truth is that Smith is not the stereotypical monster Republican that Democrats (and others) have come to despise. He seems like a pretty nice guy, moderate by modern Republican standards and someone who Oregonians of all political strips can generally get along with (he and Wyden work together quite often).
If you had asked me six years ago if I approved of Gordon Smith I probably would have said yes (though I wouldn't have voted for him as I had already pledged myself not to vote for any Republican).
I've been saying since the 2006 election that defeating Smith will be hard simply because he has a well cultivated image as a moderate and Oregonians don't generally go in for firebrands (of any political leaning). There are very vocal minorities on both the left and right here. The loudest elements of the left have little to no influence here while the louder elements of the right have come to dominate the State GOP.
That's why the Republicans, outside of Smith, has been having such a hard time in recent elections. It may also be why Smith may win re-election, because Oregonians may want to give a lifeline to the one "reasonable" Republican that they know about.