Your Weekend Reader for Dec. 3-4

by | Dec 3, 2022 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Your Weekend Reader hates to brag on itself, but — oh, OK: The edition of a couple of weeks ago did the math and predicted that Charles Maughan probably had the inside track to win the ranked-choice voting election for Corvallis mayor. And this week, the Gazette-Times confirmed it: Maughan, the former Ward 2 councilor, has narrowly outpolled Ward 9 Councilor Andrew Struthers.

You’ll recall that this was a three-way contest, with former Ward 2 Council Roen Hogg finishing third in the first round of voting. None of the three candidates earned the required majority, so Hogg was eliminated — and then the second-choice candidates on Hogg’s ballots were added to the totals for Maughan and Struthers. (Remember that a ranked-choice ballot allows voters to choose a first-choice candidate, a second-choice candidate and so on down the ballot.)

My guess three weeks ago was that Struthers needed to collect about 57% of those second-choice ballots to close the 768-vote gap between him and Maughan — and, Struthers actually beat that mark by collecting about 58% of those votes. But I made a rookie mistake: I assumed that every one of those Hogg voters would have listed a second choice. If you take a closer look at the numbers from Benton County, it’s clear that didn’t happen. In fact, if I’m reading the Benton County numbers correctly, more than 750 voters who marked Hogg as their first choice didn’t go on to list a second choice. Assuming that Struthers would have collected 58% of those votes, he would have won the election by about 80 votes. Instead, he lost by 34 votes — a margin of less than 0.2%.

So, a couple of lessons here: First, voters, marking second choices and third choices and so on down the line matters. And, second, if you’re a candidate who’s occupying the middle ground between your opponents, you need to be talking about the importance of those second-choice votes. (My sense here is that Struthers was essentially the middle candidate, with Maughan somewhat to his left and Hogg to his right.)

Ranked choice voting is meant to give an edge to candidates whom voters view as more moderate than their opponents; it may not have worked that way in this case, but largely because enough Hogg supporters didn’t identify a second choice.

Moving on to other important topics this week:

Utah’s demolition of USC Friday night in the Pac-12 championship game triggered no fewer than 18 changes in bowl game matchups, according to the soothsayers at the sports website The Athletic — and, of course, almost certainly knocked USC out of the four-team College Football Playoff. (Experts say that the fourth playoff spot likely will go to Ohio State.)

Oregon State still is expected to play in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30, but the opponent is likely to change: Instead of Louisville, the projection now is that the Beavers will play Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Utah has won a berth in Jan. 2’s Rose Bowl, which pushes Washington into the Alamo Bowl against Texas on Dec. 29. USC probably will lick its wounds in another New Year’s Six bowl — the Cotton Bowl, likely against Tulane, on Jan. 2. Oregon looks to be headed to the Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl against North Carolina. Washington State is projected to play Boise State in Dec. 17’s LA Bowl (that game was the Beavers’ destination last year). UCLA is projected to play Ole Miss in the Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17. (The Athletic piece is available only to subscribers.)

Jon Wilner, the nation’s premier Pac-12 reporter, sees the bowl lineup somewhat differently: He think Oregon State might be headed to either the Vegas Bowl or the Holiday Bowl. Oregon could end up at the Sun, Wilner thinks.

We’ll find out for sure when all the bowl games are announced on Sunday.

All this means that the Pac-12’s playoff drought continues for at least one more year — and probably two. But, hey, there’s a spot waiting for the Pac-12 (by that time, possibly the Pac-10) champion in the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff, which debuts in 2024. But one step at a time, Pac-12 teams: First, let’s try to win a bowl game, which a Pac-12 team has not done for two years.

Meanwhile, you can make a case that Oregon State might have won against Washington or even USC if it had an elite-level quarterback. (The Utah loss was essentially a shellacking against a superior opponent — a team, not coincidentally, with an elite quarterback, Cameron Rising.) The Beavers’ remarkable comeback against the Ducks last week wasn’t so much driven by quarterback play as it was by a resurgent running game — and the Ducks’ mystifying inability to stop the run, which likely will haunt Ducks coach Dan Lanning for years. For the Beavers to finally move into the top tier of the conference — and they’re knocking on the door — the team needs an elite-level quarterback.

Finally from the sports desk, here’s a piece from Andy Staples, writing for The Athletic: Utah’s big win over USC surprised some of us, Staples notes, but not for people who have been following the career of new USC coach Lincoln Riley: Riley is known for teams with explosive offenses — and horrible defenses. This USC team was just the latest example of that: Going into Friday’s game, the USC defense was ranked 114th in the country — and then played worse than that against Utah. That’s a tendency that bodes poorly for USC’s 2024 move to the Big Ten.

There is news other than local elections and college sports this week:

Grant Stringer, writing for the Oregon Capital Chronicle, explains how gun dealers — worried that the gun-control initiative Measure 114 is scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 8 — are taking advantage of a federal loophole in an attempt to boost sales. The loophole might allow guns to be sold to someone who would fail a background check. In the meantime, a federal judge said Friday that she would rule early next week on whether to temporarily block the measure from going into effect.

The big news this week in the movie world was the announcement of the newly revised Sight and Sound poll, which purports to list the greatest movies ever made. The list is updated every decade, and this year’s list featured a shocker at the top: The new No. 1 film is a three-hour-plus opus, “Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” by the renowned feminist director Chantal Akerman. The movie, also considered a landmark of so-called “slow cinema,” features lengthy slice-of-life sequences illustrating a single mother’s daily activities — cooking, cleaning and the sex work she performs to provide for her family. The previous No. 1, “Vertigo,” dropped to No. 2. And “Citizen Kane,” for decades the No. 1 flick, now is No. 3. If you want to dig deeper, The New York Times features a superb (and fun) interactive feature that shows how the influential Sight and Sound poll has changed over the decades. To its credit, this year’s list — with a broader pool of respondents — does a much better job of recognizing women directors (and Black directors, including Spike Lee and Julie Dash.) Still, I haven’t seen “Jeanne Dielman,” and I’m not sure I know anyone who has, but there’s hope yet for us philistines: The movie is streaming on HBO Max and The Criterion Channel. I subscribe to HBO Max (I should subscribe to The Criterion Channel, but I’m still officially more or less unemployed). Let’s watch the movie together and gather back here next weekend to compare notes! Hello? Hello?

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Looking for something to do in the mid-valley? Check out my curated calendar of arts-and-entertainment events.

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