IF there is one clear theme in election results from the Northwest, it is that Ross Perot is very popular in this region. In all six states he won a markedly higher percentage of the popular vote than he did in the country as a whole - ranging from 24 percent in Washington State to 27 percent in Alaska and Idaho. It is no coincidence that term limit measures were approved this week in four of these six states as well.
Beyond that, Washington, Oregon, and Montana - known as more progressive, and also experiencing the greatest influx of immigrants from California and elsewhere - went for Gov. Bill Clinton. The more conservative states - Idaho, Alaska, and Wyoming - favored President Bush.
Washington was especially good news for Democrats. There, political novice Patty Murray defeated veteran Republican Congressman Rod Chandler for a United States Senate seat. Former US Rep. Mike Lowry (D) beat Attorney General Ken Eikenberry (R) for the governor's post. And the new governor will enjoy a state Legislature that has become more Democratic. Democrats also upped their portion of US House seats from five out of eight to eight out of nine (the state gained one seat in redistricting).
Meanwhile, Washington women - including former state Republican chairwoman Jennifer Dunn - now comprise one-third of their state's House delegation.
To the south, Oregon's five-member congressional delegation also now includes a woman - Democrat Elizabeth Furse. She is taking the place of eight-term incumbant Les AuCoin (D), who unsuccessfully challenged US Sen. Bob Packwood (R).
Mr. Packwood won reelection to a sixth term in an expensive and bruising race. Mr. AuCoin was seen as a strong candidate - hammering at Packwood's stand on timber and the "failed economics" of the Reagan-Bush era - but AuCoin had been weakened by his 81 overdrafts at the House bank and a razor-thin win in the Democratic primary.
Nationally, the most closely watched race in Oregon was for a ballot measure that would have denied specific civil rights protection for homosexuals and declared homosexual behaviour to be "abnormal." Proposition 9, as it was called, was defeated at the polls following massive bipartisan opposition. Still, 43 percent of Oregonians voted for it, and proponents vow to put in on the ballot again.
History was made in Crook County, Ore., the last "bellwether" county in the nation to vote for the winner in every presidential election. There, the 7,212 voters gave 37 percent to Bush, 35 percent to Clinton, and 28 percent to Perot, thus ending a perfect 100-year string.
In Montana, the battle of two incumbent congressman for the state's lone US House seat went to the Democrat, Pat Williams. Montanans are famous for ticket-splitting, however, and picked Republican Attorney General Marc Racicot over state Rep. Dorothy Bradley (D) in a very tight race for governor.
In Idaho, moderate Republican Dirk Kempthorne, the mayor of Boise, defeated four-term US Rep. Richard Stallings (D) to replace retiring US Sen. Steven Symms (R), who has been known as one of the most conservative lawmakers in the country.