On January 8th through 13th, 2021, we asked Oregonians a series of questions related to crime in our state. Their responses were analyzed and categorized to allow for a better understanding of trends in Oregonians’ values and beliefs. Findings will include a citation of the relevant question, which can be referenced in the annotated questionnaire and tabs at the bottom of the page.
Perceptions of Statewide Crime
- With recent media coverage of damage caused to businesses in downtown Portland, the issue of crime has been front page news. This coverage may have contributed to perceptions among Oregonians about crime in the state. For example, when asked if there is more crime in Oregon than there was a year ago, Oregonians are nearly ten times more likely to say there is more crime than less (55% vs. 6%). (Q14)
- Eight in ten say the problem of crime in Oregon is at least modestly serious (81%). Only 1% of Oregonians describe the problem of crime in Oregon as not at all serious. (Q16)
Perceptions of Crime Close to Home
- While concern about crime statewide in Oregon is high, this concern lessens, but does not disappear, when Oregonians are asked about crime in their area. When asked if there is more crime in their area than there was a year ago, 36% say there is more and 7% say there is less (again, compared to 55% and 6% when evaluating crime statewide). (Q14-15)
- Furthermore, 53% of Oregonians describe the problem of crime in the area where they live as at least modestly serious, a drop of 28 points compared to how they describe the problem of crime statewide. (Q16-17)
- This trend of viewing crime as less serious when looking closer to home is corroborated in other research, including a recent Gallup survey that found while 92% felt crime was at least a moderately serious problem nationwide, only 38% said the same was true of the area where they live.
Other Questions of Justice, Law, and Order
- We also asked about other serious issues pertaining to crime and law enforcement. By a two-to-one margin, Oregonians support the death penalty for persons convicted of murder (61% support vs. 30% oppose). Also, 40% of Oregonians think funding for police in their community should stay the same, 33% say it should increase, and 20% say it should decrease. (Q18-19)
Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us
- Urban, suburban, and rural Oregonians are largely in agreement on the problem of crime statewide in Oregon, with 80-83% of each group saying it is at least modestly serious. However, there is a divergence when it comes to describing the problem of crime in their own area, with 68% of urban Oregonians saying crime is at least modestly serious in their area, compared to 47% among suburbanites and 49% among rural residents. (Q16-17)
- Support for the death penalty for persons convicted of murder was nearly even for whites and people of color (61% and 58%, respectively). (Q18)