From June 8th through 14th, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs regarding the Greater Idaho movement. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.
This online survey consisted of 1400 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by the area of the state, gender, age, and education. Responses were analyzed and categorized to allow for a better understanding of trends in Oregonians’ values and beliefs. The survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.6% to ±2.6% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.
This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample size permits reliability.
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.
Should Counties be Allowed to Join Idaho if Voters Approve?
Statewide, more Oregonians say Oregon counties should not be able to leave the state and join Idaho, even if their voters show majority support for the move (42%), but only by a narrow margin. Over a third of Oregonians (38%) say counties should be able to join Idaho, while 20% say they are unsure (Q4).
In explaining their opposition to the counties leaving, Oregonians voice concerns about breaking up the state, citing their pride in being an Oregonian, and the value of a diversity of opinions.
“I don’t understand what they have to gain by switching. While they may feel they are more similar to the lifestyle and attitudes of Idaho, joining them actually reduces their influence since they’re joining a like-minded region compared to having some sort of influence on Oregon.“Male, age 45-54, Washington County, Asian or Pacific Islander
“I am an OREGONIAN. Born and raised; I do not wish to be an Idahoan. OREGON PROUD.“Female, age 45-54, Douglas County, White
“The shallow, mean-spirited side of me wants to say, “oh heck just let them go,” but then that side of me doesn’t want to face the fact that I live in Portland surrounded by people who look like me and see things exactly the way I do. Talking politics here is preaching to the choir. The few people who don’t agree with the liberal majority don’t speak up because they’ll get shouted down by the liberal majority, and we think we’re such nice people. We need to move toward a culture where we value all the voices and respect people as people regardless of their opinions. The divides in this country could be part of what brings it down someday and that would be tragic.“Female, age 65-74, Multnomah County, Native American or American Indian
One reason many people give for opposing the Greater Idaho movement is that another solution currently exists: People unsatisfied with Oregon’s government can move to Idaho if they wish (Q7).
“If you want to live in Idaho, you should move there.”Female, age 55-64, Columbia County, Black or African American
“I think most people are tired of the way Oregon is being run and are looking for a change, but moving boundaries isn’t the way. If you really want to live in Idaho, then move.”Female, age 55-64, Douglas County, White
“If you don’t like living within Oregon…move! It doesn’t make sense to mess up our borders because of whiny conservatives.”Male, age 30-44, Multnomah County, Hispanic/Latino/x
Residents from outside the greater Portland and Willamette Valley regions support counties being allowed to join Idaho by a narrow margin (44% support vs. 40% oppose) (Q4). Even among those who do not support counties leaving Oregon, there is broad recognition of, and even sympathy for, the residents of these counties feeling that they are not represented in state government (Q7).
“This is a longed-for solution for these counties, decades old. They want Curry County to eventually get them coastal access, too. The USA is a mangled country now, changing borders may create regional areas where people are more like-minded, but I see it as a dangerous precedent.”Female, 65-74, Curry County, White
“Perhaps the movement will have some value in publicizing the frustration of rural areas whose needs and voices are ignored by the dominant urban vote. If it succeeded it would probably be at the cost of conservatives left behind in the area that did not secede, but at least some voters would get to experience a more representative government.”Male, age 75+, Clackamas County, Slavic, White
“I feel like those counties would get out from under the heel of the liberal policies that are choking the state of Oregon since the lawmakers have no idea what life is like in the rural areas, all they care about are their constituents in the major metropolitan areas such as Portland, Bend, and Salem.”Male, 30-44, Wasco County, Hispanic/Latino/x and White
How Likely is a Border Change?
Irrespective of opinions about whether voters should be allowed to determine their county’s state, two-thirds of Oregonians say it is unlikely that this move will take place (64%) (Q5).
Compared to older Oregonians, people ages 18-54 years old are more likely to say the move is very or somewhat likely (25%-31%), while those over 45 years old are more likely than younger Oregonians to say the move is not very or not at all likely (65%-79% vs. 53%-57%) (Q5).
Oregonians say the move is unlikely because it’s not a good deal for both states. While residents disagree about whether it makes financial sense for Oregon to lose these counties, seen as lower-income, there is some agreement that Idaho would be taking on lower-income counties, which could be expensive (Q7).
“Firstly, it promotes segregation instead of accepting different political viewpoints. Secondly, the main tax base comes from primarily Democrat counties. If the “red” counties became part of Idaho, those forming the new Idaho would have an increasingly high cost of living and limited access to state programs.”Female, age 55-64, Clackamas County, More than one race/ethnicity
“The financial impact to have counties join Idaho for both states would be hard to work out. The counties wanting to join Idaho have much smaller populations & would not bring much financial ‘wealth’ with them.”Female, 75+, Multnomah County, White
“We in these counties are rural, spread out, and low average incomes. The taxes required to maintain and improve the infrastructure required for such vast and lowly populated areas can’t be generated by the population in these counties alone. Where will Idaho get the additional resources? If from these counties, the tax rates will skyrocket.”Female, 65-74, Baker County, White
Would Moving the Border be Positive or Negative?
While 38% of Oregonians say the state’s counties should be allowed to join Idaho if a majority of their voters agree, fewer believe such a move would be a positive thing (34%) (Q6).
- The oldest residents are the most certain a move to Idaho would portend negative outcomes. More than half of Oregonians 75 and older say the move would be negative (55%), including 21% of these seniors who think it would be “very negative.”
- Additionally, people with six-figure incomes are more likely than people with lower incomes to say the move to Idaho would be negative (54% vs. 39-43%). Nearly one-third of six-figure income Oregonians say the move would be “very negative” (32%).
Oregonians who think the move to Greater Idaho would be negative for residents point to increased state taxes, including vehicle registration fees and sales tax, as well as the fact that tax dollars from western Oregon currently subsidize some state operations in eastern Oregon. Some respondents also note that the cannabis industry has provided economic benefits in many of these counties but remains prohibited in Idaho.
“These counties benefit financially from tax revenues from the affluent I-5 corridor metropolitan areas. Without this, they cannot survive. The State of Idaho won’t raise taxes on their own people just so that they can service the greatly expanded territory that spans all the way down to Brookings. With supporters of this political stunt also being strongly anti-tax, there is no logical way how the “Greater Idaho” can be financially or economically sustainable. On the other hand, these people leaving Oregon will be a benefit to the rest of Oregon.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming, age 45-54, Columbia County, Asian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino/a/x, and White
“First of all, there will be an increase in taxes. Especially sales taxes, and I don’t think they realize that.”Male, age 18-29, Union County, White
“Oregon legalized marijuana in 2016 and has benefitted amazingly from the taxes collected from legal marijuana sales. Those counties wishing to secede risk finding themselves in tighter financial situations than they were in before marijuana was both decriminalized and legalized for medicinal and recreational use.”Female, age 18-29, Umatilla County, White
“Tax funds from the western half of the state help cover costs for all kinds of things in my county and the neighboring ones, from road repairs to social services to recreation opportunities. Idaho’s legislature and government have also been terrible in their response to the pandemic and in ignoring public safety.”Male, age 30-44, Union County, White
Identifying what unites us, understanding what divides us.
- Overall, Black, Indigenous, and other Oregonians of color seem to be more receptive to allowing counties to join Idaho with voter approval. BIPOC Oregonians are more likely to say counties should be allowed to join Idaho (42%), that it is likely to happen (32%), and that this move would be positive (36%) (Q4-6). They are also more likely to say they are undecided about all three questions (24%, 19%, and 27%, respectively). White Oregonians are more likely to say they oppose allowing counties to join Idaho (43%), that they think it is unlikely (66%), and that these counties joining Idaho would be negative (44%).
- Not surprisingly, rural residents are among the most likely to say voters should be able to approve their county’s move to Idaho (43%) (Q4).
- By a margin of more than 10 percentage points as compared to urbanites, rural residents are more likely to believe such a move is likely (32% rural; 19% urban) and would be a positive thing (40% rural; 30% urban) (Q5-6).
This 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).