PolicyInteractive: Finding Common Ground in a Divided Political Culture 2017-2018


In December of 2017, PolicyInteractive surveyed 1200 registered voters from four states, which was reduced to a sample size of 1103 after we removed invalided surveys. Of the 1103 respondents, 518 are registered to vote in Oregon. The four states, Oregon, Washington, California and Colorado, were mainly chosen to increase respondent numbers as well as to examine how Oregon might share political values with specific western states for collaborative purposes. Through this project, we made the discovery that Oregon is not as polarized as the November 2016 election results would suggest. Despite the stark red-and-blue divisions exposed by many of the choices on the ballot, most Oregonians share common ground on important issues — notably climate change and health care. Building on surveys conducted on a national scale by the Pew Research Group, this project involved sorting Oregonians into eight political archetypes or typologies, ranging from “Solid Liberals” on the far left to “Core Conservatives” on the far right. We found that in Oregon, only 30 percent hold opinions that place them in those solid blue liberal or bright red conservative outer bands of the political spectrum. The remaining 70 percent comprise six other voter archetypes in which liberal and conservative ideas are mixed in surprising ways. Of 25 defining topics often parlayed as divisive, only five can be observed as truly contested. The larger picture displays opportunities for cooperation and progress on challenging topics most Oregonians want solutions on.

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