Voting and Democracy: 2022

Oregonians’ opinions on the importance of voting, democracy, and the importance of the November 2022 election, in particular.

From November 10–19, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs about voting and democracy. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below.

The question numbers in this document correspond with the accompanying annotated questionnaire. Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs.

Included below for selected questions are noteworthy subgroups variations for BIPOC/white, age, urban/rural, education, gender, and households with and without children. The accompanying set of tabs notes subgroup variations for all the questions.

OVBC surveys currently use 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 sizes permit reliability.

For survey full question wording, all statistically significant subgroup findings, and respondent quotes, readers are encouraged to refer to the accompanying three documents: (1) annotated questionnaire, (2) crosstabulations document, and (3) verbatim written responses spreadsheet (available upon request).

Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (OVBC): This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. OVBC is an independent and non-partisan organization and an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation. Representative OVBC projects include opinion research about race-based crimes for the Asian Health and Service Center, as well as research about early childhood education and the cost of childcare for the Children’s Institute.

Key Takeaways

  • Eight in ten survey respondents say they voted in the November 2022 election, with notable gaps by age, race/ethnicity, and education.
  • Those who voted overwhelmingly view the November 2022 election as more important than prior elections, with women and the youngest and oldest Oregonians most likely to hold this view.
  • Those who place higher importance on the election cite a general need for change, partisan concerns, democracy being at risk, and specific races or issues, such as the Governor’s race or the right to abortion access.
  • Those who view the election as similar to prior ones largely say elections are always important, though some hold the opposite view: that there is little point in voting.
  • Two-thirds of Oregonians say that the system of democracy is in peril, a view held by a majority of each group tested. women, older Oregonians, white residents, those with higher educational attainment, and those without children in the household are even more concerned.

Voting and Democracy: November 2022 Election

Eight in ten survey respondents say they voted in the November 2022 elections (compared to 66% of Oregonians at large[1]), with some key differences between demographic groups (Q67).

  • Men and women within this survey sample voted at similar rates in the November 2022 elections.
  • Age correlated strongly with voting behaviors, with older Oregonians voting at notably higher rates than younger ones, especially those ages 18-29.
  • White Oregonians voted more often than BIPOC residents, which is likely at least in part connected to the younger age profile of BIPOC Oregonians.
  • Education also correlated strongly with voting behavior, with those with at least some college degree or higher education voting far more often than others.
  • Oregonians without children in the household voted more often than those with children, again likely due in part to age differences.
  • Oregonians living in suburban communities tended to vote at a slightly higher rate than those in urban areas.

Just over three in four of those who voted in November say this election was more important than prior elections (Q68).

  • Women were more likely than men to say that this past election was more important to them than past elections.
  • The youngest and oldest Oregonians place higher importance on this most recent election than others.
  • There are no meaningful differences of opinion for this question by race/ethnicity, educational attainment, parental status, or area of the state.

Why Some say Voting in November of 2022 was More Important

Those who say the November 2022 election was more important most often cite a general need for change, partisan concerns, democracy being at risk, and specific races or issues such as the Governor’s race and the right to abortion access (Q68a).

  • Women are over three times as likely as men to cite access to abortion, while men cited a desire for Republican control more often.
  • Older Oregonians and those with a college degree are especially likely to cite democracy being at risk as their reason for viewing this past election as more important than others.
  • White people are twice as likely to cite democracy being at risk than BIPOC Oregonians.
  • Oregonians with higher educational attainment cite a desire for Democratic control and the risks facing democracy more often than others. Those with lower educational attainment cite the importance of every election, and the need for change more often.
  • Those without children cite a desire for Democratic control and the risks facing democracy at a higher rate than those without children in the household.
  • Those living in more urban and suburban areas cite a desire for Democratic control more often, while rural residents cite a desire for Republican control more often.

“Because I was actually able to be involved in the election process for the first time.”

Woman, age 18-29, Lane County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native

“Because Republicans have gotten so extreme that they are taking rights away from people.  We are reverting back to the 1900s.”

Woman, age 65-74, Multnomah County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native

“Because many of the races were projected to be more competitive and the divide between candidates seems to be growing.”

Man, age 30-44, Clatsop County, White

“Because we really need to get rid of Democrats in control. They are ruining Oregon!”

Man, age 65-74, Coos County, Black or African American

“I always vote, but this year it seemed to me that democracy was on the ballot along with the candidates.”

Woman, age 65-74, Grant County, White

“I think that humans need compassionate and literate leaders to mitigate climate change, future pandemics, gun violence, and any other boost to our long-term quality of life.”

Woman, age 30-44, Washington County, Asian and White

“I used to be a center-right Republican. Then the GOP went insane and started tearing down our institutions and attacking the foundations of civil peace.  So now it is more important to vote because the institutional foundations of society are at risk, and voting is the most practical means of preserving them.”

Man, age 45-54, Washington County, Asian and White

“The future is on the line in every election and being on the cusp of having a chance to avert the worst of catastrophes, it’s never been more important.”

Man, age 18-29, Lane County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native and White

“Abortion rights. That was the biggest issue for me, and it was important for me to vote for those who promise to protect those rights for women and anybody who can have an abortion.”

Non-binary or gender non-conforming and Trans person, age 18-29, Lane County, White

“Oregon had a chance to disband the supermajorities in the House and Senate. As a rural Oregonian, I have seen these supermajorities leave many Oregonians feeling that their vote doesn’t count.”

Woman, age 45-54, Yamhill County, White

Oregonians who say Voting in November 2022 was of Similar Importance compared to other elections

Those who view the November 2022 election as similar to prior ones largely say this election cycle was not more important than others because elections are always important, though some hold the opposite view: that there is little point in voting (Q68b).

  • Older Oregonians are more likely to voice their faith in the importance of elections, while younger Oregonians share their doubts about the effectiveness of elections.
  • Similarly, white Oregonians cite the importance of elections more often while BIPOC Oregonians are more likely to say there’s little point in voting.
  • Likewise, Oregonians with higher educational attainment are more likely to say elections are generally important while those with lower educational attainment are more likely to say there’s no point.
  • There are no meaningful differences for this question by gender, parental status, or area of the state.

“All elections are important, and I vote in them all.”

Man, age 55-64, Deschutes County, Asian and White

“2016 and 2020 were the elections of highest importance in my lifetime. This year’s election was important, but not quite at the 2016-2020 level nationally and not as consequential as some prior state elections.”

Man, age 75+, Polk County, White

“Because I always vote. The problem is we just keep getting candidates that don’t make any changes. There aren’t enough choices. We have to choose the best of some of the worst and hope for the best outcome in elections. It’s very disheartening regarding what this country has become. Everything seems to be all about the almighty dollar and lobbyist versus doing what is best for the country.”

Woman, age 55-64, Clackamas County, White

“Because I don’t care or put any trust in politics, I believe my vote makes little difference because nothing is ever improved for homeless people or the quality of life for those with mental illness and I see no change based on who is in control of the House or Senate.”

Woman, age 55-64, Marion County, White

“Because participation in our democratic process is always the responsibility of citizens, not just when there are hot topics or a particular political agenda to promote.”

Woman, age 55-64, Crook County, White

“Because voting is meaningless when both parties work for corporations instead of people.”

Non-binary or gender non-conforming person, age 65-74, Washington County, Other race or ethnicity

“It wasn’t that important to be because I hardly knew anyone that was running for office. I normally only vote when it comes to the presidents since I know more about them and it’s easier to follow.”

Man, age 18-29, Washington County, White

“There were no close races in my area. Nor any candidates that I felt were needing strong support.”

Woman, age 65-74, Wallowa County, White

“When you are younger, every election can feel like the end of time. When you have been through enough—Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Trump—you realize that it is highly unlikely the world will end with the turn of any particular election.”

Man, age 65-74, Lane County, White

Democracy in Peril

Two-thirds (68%) of Oregonians say that the system of democracy is in peril (Q69).

  • Those 65 or older and those with a college degree have the highest rate of agreement that the system of democracy is in peril, with approximately eight in ten saying so.
  • Women were more likely than men to say democracy is in peril.
  • Older Oregonians were much more likely than younger ones to say that democracy is in peril.
  • White people were more likely to believe that democracy is in peril than BIPOC Oregonians.
  • Those with higher educational attainment were more likely than others to say democracy is in peril.
  • Oregonians without children in the household were more likely to say democracy is in peril than those without.
  • There was broad agreement across the state that democracy is in peril, with only marginal differences between urban, suburban, and rural residents.
  • While a majority of each group said democracy was in peril, younger Oregonians, BIPOC residents, women, those with lower educational attainment, and Oregonians with children in the household said they did not know at a higher rate than others.

“A large portion of the right has become radicalized and the left is ineffective in making positive progress. The wealthy elite commit crime in broad daylight every day and influence politicians to do what’s best for their wallets rather than for the people.”

Non-binary or gender non-conforming person, age 18-29, Multnomah County, Asian

“Because of the great divide and disconnect from important issues. Where it is more important to have a side versus what is good for the nation.”

Man, age 18-29, Klamath County, Asian and Black or African American

“Because Oregon has been led to the ground by one political party for 40 years. Oregon needs balance!”

Woman, age 45-54, Clackamas County, White

“Because old people are making all the decisions for young people, and they are so out of touch.”

Man, age 18-29, Lane County, Hispanic/Latino/x

“Christo-fascist white supremacy and wealthy white liberal apathy.”

Woman, age 45-54, Multnomah County, Hispanic/Latina/x

“Our administration is closing books on our rights and freedoms, one by one. We are in a high state of inflation in almost all products.”

Woman, age 18-29, Josephine County, White

“The election process does not appear secure and the vilification of citizens just because they have a different opinion is a dangerous step toward totalitarianism.”

Man, age 75+, Washington County, White

“As far as I’ve heard, no one is threatening to take away eligible citizens’ right to vote.”

Man, age 30-44, Union County, White

“Because there are enough level-headed leaders in this country and because we have the balance of three branches of government.”

Woman, age 75+, Washington County, White

“I don’t see a public voting system going away any time soon. Isn’t that what democracy is? The right to vote and to pick representatives to represent your interests? What else would we do? It’s a foundational principle of the US.”

Woman, age 18-29, Umatilla County, White

Methodology

The online survey consisted of 1,554 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

Statement of Limitations

Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±2.48%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.

For More Information:


[1] Voter Turnout, updated December 12, 2022; Oregon Secretary of State.