Oregonians in Their Own Communities

How Oregonians feel in relation to their communities, including whether they can have an impact, leadership, and who they trust.

Silhouettes of people

From March 5th through 10th, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including how they feel about various aspects of their community. Respondents were instructed that references to “your community” in the included questions should be considered to mean all the people in the community where they live. This online survey consisted of 601 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. 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 ±2.4% to ±4.0% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. 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.

How Oregonians View Their Own Significance in Their Community

  • Respondents were asked how much impact they think can have in making their community a better place to live. Responses were mixed, with 53% saying they think they can make a big or moderate impact and 45% saying they can only make a small impact or none at all. Interestingly, the belief that one can make a big/moderate impact decreased dramatically with age, from 66% among those ages 18-29 to 38% for those ages 65+ (Q20).
  • In another show of mixed feelings, Oregonians are as likely to agree with the statement “the people running my community don’t really care much about what happens to me” (54%) as they are with the statement that “people in my community share the same values” (52%).  However, they are three times more likely to strongly agree with the former statement than the latter (20% vs. 6%) (Q21-22).
  • Men are more likely than women to agree with the statement “the people running my community don’t really care much about what happens to me” (59% vs. 50%) (Q22).

Shared Values or Multiple Perspectives?

  • Oregonians say they value diversity of opinions when it comes to their community. By a three-to-one margin, Oregonians say they are more in alignment with the statement “I value people who can see issues from multiple perspectives even when I disagree with them” (72% feel strongly/lean toward) than the statement “I only want to be around people who share my values” (23%) (Q23).
  • Younger Oregonians ages 18-29 are twice as likely as those ages 65+ to strongly align with the statement “I value people who can see issues from multiple perspectives even when I disagree with them” (43% vs. 21%) (Q23).

Trust, or Lack of, in Other Community Members

Respondents were provided a randomized list of eight groups of people in their community and were asked to rate how much they trust each: a lot, some, only a little, or not at all (Q24-Q31).

  • The first tier of groups with the highest trust (a lot/some) are people who work in the stores where you shop (74%), the police (66%), people who publish the news about your community in newspapers (52%), and people who broadcast the news about your community on radio and television (51%). These are the only groups who a majority Oregonians say they have a lot/some trust in (Q24-25, Q29, Q31).
  • The police and people who work in the stores where you shop are the groups which the highest percentage of Oregonians say they have “a lot” of trust in (29% and 21%, respectively) (Q24-25).
  • Those ages 65+ have much higher trust (a lot/some) in the police than those ages 18-44 (84% vs. 51-55%). Trust also increases with age when it comes to people who work in the stores where you shop, from 60% among those ages 18-29 to 85% for those ages 65+ (Q24-25).
People who work in the stores where you shop: 74%; The Police: 66%; People who publish news in newspapers: 52%; People who broadcast the news on radio and TV: 51%
  • The second tier of groups in the community, who at least 40% of Oregonians say they have a lot/some trust in include people with conservative political views and people with liberal political views (both 47%). In such a politically polarized time nationally, it is interesting to see such equal levels of trust on the community level (Q28, Q30).
  • Men have higher trust (a lot/some) than women in people with conservative political views (53% vs. 41%), whereas men and women have roughly equal trust in people with liberal political views (48% vs. 46%) (Q28, Q30).
  • Finally, the third tier of groups with combined trust scores below 40% includes local elected officials (38%) and people who use social media to report news about your community (30%). These are also the groups that the smallest percentage say they have “a lot” of trust in (6% and 5%, respectively). Interestingly, trust in elected officials tended to increase with age, whereas trust in social media reporters tended to decrease with age, with the latter trend perhaps indicative of the digital divide (Q26-27).

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us

  • Oregonians of color and whites align on many community issues. For example, these groups are equally as likely to say they can have a big or moderate impact in making their community a better place to live (55% and 53%, respectively). They are also equally as likely to agree that the people in their community share the same values (55% and 52%, respectively) (Q20-21).
  • However, there are some significant differences between Oregonians of color and whites when it comes to trusting certain groups in the community. For example, whites have significantly higher trust in the police than Oregonians of color (70% vs. 44%) (Q24). This trend was also reflected in a Pew Research poll from April 2020, which found that 84% of whites had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in police officers to act in the best interests of the public, compared to 56% of black Americans1.
  • By an identical 48% vs. 37% margin, whites are more likely than Oregonians of color to have trust in people with conservative political views and people with liberal political views (Q28, Q30).
  • While there is alignment between urban and rural Oregonians on some community issues – for example, both groups have identical high levels of trust in the people who work in the stores where you shop (both 74%) – there are some notable differences between these groups (Q25).
  • Urban Oregonians are more likely than their rural counterparts to say they can have a big or moderate impact in making their community a better place to live (64% vs. 46%). Suburban Oregonians are right in the middle (53%). Oregonians who live in areas that are rural-changing-to-suburban are almost identical to their rural neighbors (47%) (Q20).
  • Rural Oregonians have higher trust in the police than urbanites (71% vs. 53%), as well as in people with conservative political views (60% vs. 37%) (Q24, Q28).
  • Meanwhile, urbanites have higher trust in people who publish the news about your community in newspapers than their rural counterparts (57% vs. 43%), as well as in people with liberal political views (55% vs. 38%) (Q29-30).

1Pew Research; April 20-26, 2020: Black Americans were far less confident in police than whites before Floyd’s death | Pew Research Center

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).

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