From February 11th through 17th, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including how they feel about the current political climate statewide and in their community. Respondents were asked if they felt things in Oregon and in their community are headed in the right direction or are off on the wrong track. Those who said things are off on the wrong track, in either case, were asked to explain their feelings in an open-ended format. Please note that half of the sample were asked about the direction of the state and the other half were asked about the direction of their community (Q1-4). This online survey consisted of 600 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.
State: Right Direction or Wrong Track?
- Overall, 43% of Oregonians say the state is headed in the right direction and 49% say things are off on the wrong track. The percentage of Oregonians who think the state is headed in the right direction is up slightly compared to DHM Research results from February 20201 (37% right direction vs. 51% wrong track) and little changed from December 20202 (42% right direction vs. 52% wrong track, see Table 1)(Q1).
- In February 2021, Oregonians are roughly three times more likely to say things in the state are strongly headed in the wrong direction than strongly headed in the right direction (28% vs. 10%)(Q1).
Oregonians who said things in the state are headed in the wrong direction (either somewhat or strongly) provided a variety of reasons why, including concerns about homelessness and housing affordability, government performance and priorities, the pandemic, the economy, and more. Here are a few examples of representative quotes (Q2):
“Everything is closed, and the governor can’t seem to figure out how to vaccinate people to open the economy back up.”Male, age 30-44, Washington County, white
“The moral compass of the state is going down fast, and the leadership is causing massive financial and emotional strains for people right now. The COVID vaccinations are also being incredibly mis-managed putting lives in danger.”Male, age 45-64, Jackson County, white
“Portland’s unrest, being a sanctuary state, lack of leadership from the Governor.”Female, age 30-44, Deschutes County, white
Communities Headed in a Better Direction
- Oregonians are more likely to say things in their community are headed in the right direction than off on the wrong track (52% vs. 38%). This is often the case in opinion research, where respondents feel more confident about how things are going closer to home. Older Oregonians ages 65+ are slightly more optimistic than those ages 18-29, awarding higher right direction numbers for their community (57% vs. 51%)(Q3).
- Oregonians who said things in their community are headed in the wrong direction (either somewhat or strongly) provided a variety of reasons why, including many that also resonated on the statewide level in Q2, such as homeless and housing affordability, the pandemic, crime and public safety, and the state of the economy. Here are a few examples of representative quotes (Q4):
“The area is filling up with RVs and trailers of homeless people. Many small businesses are closed. Teachers not elderly are prioritized for vaccination for COVID. Antifa runs wild.”Male, age 65+, Multnomah County, white
“While finally electing a more diverse City Council with two persons of color, community resistance to affordable housing models and denial of systematic racism in schools and businesses remains a challenge.”Male, age 65+, Clackamas County, Middle Eastern
“We had a shortage of housing for a decade previous before the Almeda Fire, and now it’s even worse. Our City Council and planners are failing, and our homeless population has exploded. Real estate prices have skyrocketed; it’s benefiting a few and devastating for far more people. Medford and Jackson County aren’t doing enough.”Female, age 45-64, Jackson County, white
Identifying what unites us, understanding what divides us.
- Oregonians of color and white Oregonians are in strong agreement about whether things in Oregon are headed in the right direction (45% vs. 43%) and in their community (50& vs. 52%)(Q1, Q3).
- When gauging the direction of the state, urban Oregonians are much more positive than their rural counterparts (59% vs. 36% right direction scores). These numbers balance out a bit when gauging the direction of their communities (56% vs. 47% right direction)(Q1, Q3).
1Online survey conducted February 2020 on the DHM Panel; N=524
2DHM Research and OVBC statewide online survey conducted December 4-8, 2020; N=615
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).