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Profile; Oregon

Associated Press

Oregon is one of six states decided by fewer than 10,000 votes in 2000, making it a top target of President George W. Bush and John Kerry four years later.

Both campaigns and their allies are running heavy levels of television commercials in the state, and the candidates plan to make several stops in Oregon before Election Day.

It took three days to determine the winner in Oregon in 2000 -- Mr. Gore by 6,765 votes out of more than 1.5 million. The race was also close in Florida, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico.

Mr. Kerry can hardly afford to lose Oregon or any of Mr. Gore's states, in part because Mr. Bush began the race with an edge: The 30 states he won in 2004 gained seven electoral votes with population increases.

Tim Hibbits, an Oregon pollster, said the state should slightly favour Kerry. Of the West Coast states, Oregon is closer than California, which appears to be safely Democratic, and Washington, which is a bit more favourable to Mr. Kerry than Oregon.

The race may be decided in Portland's two fastest-growing suburban counties, Washington and Clackamas, where Mr. Bush has focused his energies in hopes of energizing GOP-leaning voters who stayed home on Election Day four years ago.

State issues could impact voter turnout. Ballot initiatives include one to ban gay marriage and another to expand the state's legal medical uses for marijuana.

BY THE NUMBERS:

7 -- Number of electoral votes

9 -- Percentage of population that is Hispanic, up 12 percent between 2000 and 2002.

6.8 -- Percentage unemployment

Just about 100 -- Percent of nation's hazelnuts, blackberries, black raspberries and loganberries produced by Oregon

NOTABLE:

Oregon is the only state with all-mail voting.

Democratic presidential candidates have carried Oregon six times in the past 40 years, Republicans four times.

WHAT TO WATCH ON ELECTION NIGHT:

The three-county metropolitan Portland area accounts for more than 40 percent of the statewide vote. Multnomah County, taking in almost all of Portland, has one in five of the state's voters and usually votes Democratic by 2-to-1 or more.

Portland's two fast-growing suburban counties -- Washington and Clackamas -- tend to be swing areas to watch. President Bush narrowly won one county and narrowly lost the other to Al Gore in 2000.

Ballot initiatives could boost turnout. They include a proposed state constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage, measures to cap "pain and suffering" awards in medical malpractice cases, and a measure to expand the state's legal medical uses for marijuana.

IN OREGON FOUR YEARS AGO:

It took three days to determine the razor-thin victory won by Democrat Al Gore. He defeated Bush by 6,765 votes out of more than 1.5 million cast.

Ralph Nader drew 77,000 votes, about 5 percent.

In a survey of voters, moderates preferred Gore by a 10 percent margin. Ross Perot voters from 1996 went overwhelmingly for Bush.

Associated Press writers Charles Beggs and Brad Cain contributed to this report.

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