Dreams for Our State: Oregonians Prioritize Aspirational Goals

Oregonians prioritize goals for our State to strive for, with affordability and clean air and water topping the list.

Painted hills against blue sky

From February 11th through 17th, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including which goals Oregon should prioritize for the future. Respondents were provided a list of aspirational goals for Oregon to strive for compared to other states, and were asked to rank their highest, second highest, and third highest priorities. For this ranking exercise, all the aspirational goals were randomized and listed on one page to all for a comparative assessment for survey takers. For the purpose of evaluation, similar aspirational goals were then grouped into categories (the economy, health, environment, etc.) (Q30-41).

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.

  • The top goals for Oregonians are economic in nature. When looking at which aspirations receive the strongest combined first-, second-, and third-highest priority scores, there are two that stand above the rest: Making Oregon the most affordable state to live (52% combined score) and achieving the lowest poverty rate (46%). Men are more likely than women to prioritize affordability, whereas women are more likely to prioritize lowering the poverty rate (Q30,Q31).
  • After the economy, Oregonians’ goals become more mixed, but there are a couple of aspirations that constitute a second tier, with combined scores reaching 40%. This tier includes achieving the lowest crime rate compared to other states (41%) and having the cleanest air and water (40%). Having the lowest crime rate is a much higher priority for those ages 65+ (54%) than younger Oregonians, ages 18-44 (33-34%) (Q34,Q36).
  • The third tier of aspirational goals includes being the state with the happiest people (28% combined score) and having the highest high school graduation rate (25%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, having the highest high school graduation rate is a higher priority for Oregonians with school-aged children than for those without children (Q33,Q38).
  • No other goal had a combined first-, second-, and third-highest priority score reaching 20%. The category of goals with the lowest cumulative priority scores deals with civic aspirations, such as achieving the highest rate of volunteerism and the highest voter turnout (Q40,Q41).

  • In a separate exercise, Oregonians rated these aspirational goals for Oregon on a scale of 1 (very low priority) to 7 (very high priority). Here the goals were rated in isolation (meaning there was only one item per page), and the results were similar to the ranking exercise. The economic goals received strong priority ratings, along with having the cleanest air and water; the lowest crime rate; the happiest people; and the highest high school graduation rate. Interestingly, the goal of having the highest voter turnout performed much better when rated in isolation than when ranked against other priorities (Q18-29).

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us

  • Oregonians of color and whites are largely in alignment and show little significant difference in how they rank these aspirational goals for Oregon. Becoming the most affordable state to live in is the highest priority for both groups, when ranked alongside the other goals (Q31).
  • Interestingly, when rating the goals in isolation on a scale of 1 to 7, Oregonians of color and whites also had the same top priority, but this priority was different from the highest-ranked priority (most affordable). When rated in isolation, the goal given the highest priority was having the cleanest air and water (mean scores of 5.5 and 5.7, respectively)(Q22).
  • Geographically speaking, urban and rural Oregonians rank their priorities similarly, with economic goals toward the top for both groups. However, there are some differences. For example, rural Oregonians award a higher percentage of first-, second-, and third-highest priority votes for making Oregon the most affordable state to live when compared to urbanites (60% vs. 42%)(Q31).
  • Additionally, urban Oregonians are more likely to prioritize the goal of having the strictest gun laws than their rural counterparts (combined score of 18% vs. 4%)(Q36).

The research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (www.oregonvbc.org).

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Analysis and Reporting by: Ari Wubbold