From January 13-20, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including questions about the state’s direction and their mental wellbeing. We’d like to acknowledge and thank DHM Research for providing us baseline questions benchmarked to determine changes in attitudes over time. The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q1-12).
The online survey consisted of 1,400 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Demographic quotas and statistical weighting were used to ensure a representative sample. Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.6% to ±2.6%. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.
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.
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 sizes permit reliability.
Optimism for 2022?
Oregonians are quite divided on how optimistic they are feeling about 2022. 53% of Oregonians are either feeling very optimistic (10%) or somewhat optimistic (42%) about 2022, compared to 44% of Oregonians who are not very optimistic (31%) or not at all optimistic (12%) (Q8).
- Optimism at the beginning of the new year is down compared to January 2021, when 59% of Oregonians said they were very/somewhat optimistic and 38% said they were not very/not at all optimistic.
Right Direction, Wrong Track: Comparing Benchmark Data
A majority of Oregonians say the state is off on the wrong track (53%), with a whopping 29% saying the state is strongly off on the wrong track. Only 37% say our state is headed in the right direction, and most of that group only believe the state is somewhat headed in the right direction (31%) (Q9).
- The percentage of Oregonians who feel the state is off on the wrong track either somewhat or strongly has changed only slightly from a February 2021 survey, and another in September of 2021. However, those slight changes are enough to put those who say Oregon’s headed in the wrong direction in the majority.
- Oregonians in the Willamette Valley are more likely than their peers to say things are headed in the right direction (41%). Only one-third of those living outside the Portland Metro or Willamette Valley areas say the state’s headed in the right direction (33%).
- Support for the Oregon’s direction increases with income and education level.
Current Economic Conditions
When it comes to the overall economic conditions in the state, most Oregonians rate conditions as “only fair” (40%), while 33% say conditions are poor or very poor and 24% say they are good or excellent (Q10).
- A mere 3% rate conditions as excellent, while 13% rate conditions as very poor.
- Positive ratings for Oregon’s economy trend upward with increased income and education.
Lack of Optimism for Improving Conditions
Oregonians are not optimistic about economic conditions improving in Oregon. Only 14% of Oregonians think the economy is getting better compared to 35% who think it is staying the same and 46% who think it is getting worse (Q11).
- While Oregonians today have similar thoughts about the improvement in economic conditions compared to January 20211, optimism has lowered since April 2021, when only 34% of Oregonians thought the economy was getting worse, and 22% thought conditions were improving.
Oregonians’ Personal Financial Situation
The majority of Oregonians are worried about their personal financial situation (59% very/somewhat worried) (Q12).
- Oregonians’ level of concern about their personal situation is similar to January 2021 when 52% of Oregonians said they were very/somewhat worried. Concern has markedly increased since April 2021, when 48% of Oregonians reported they were either very or somewhat worried.
- Oregonians who rent are much more likely to report being somewhat or very worried about their personal financial situation than Oregonians who own their homes (75% vs. 43%).
Oregonians’ Mental Wellbeing
Respondents were asked how often during the previous two weeks they had been bothered by various feelings: Not at all, several days, more than half the days, and nearly every day. With only two exceptions, a majority of Oregonians report they have been bothered by each of the experience categories at least several days over the previous two weeks, if not more. When looking at those who report being bothered by these feelings several days or more, four tiers emerge. In nearly every case, those with lower annual incomes, lower levels of formal education, women, and Oregonians with school-aged children are more likely to experience each of these feelings (Q1-7).
- Unsurprisingly, Oregonians who were optimistic about 2022 were less likely to experience these feelings than Oregonians who were not optimistic about 2022. This trend (with varying degrees) is seen throughout all questions about feelings.
Tier 1: Worrying Too Much About Different Things
The first tier consists of the most common feelings Oregonians report being bothered by: worrying too much about different things (69%) (Q3).
- When compared to other categories, Oregonians are also more likely to report struggling nearly every day with these feelings (18%).
Tier 2: Experienced by About Two Out of Three Oregonians
The second tier consists of feelings that around 2 in 3 Oregonians say bother them several days or more: feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge (66%); becoming easily annoyed or irritable (66%); and having trouble relaxing (64%) (Q1,Q6,Q4).
- Of these three experiences, Oregonians are more likely to feel nervous, anxious, or on edge nearly every day (16% vs. 12-14%).
- In a rare exception to the overall trends, Oregonians with some college education are more likely than those with a high school education or less to feel nervous, anxious, or on edge (73% vs. 70%). Both groups are more likely than Oregonians with a four-year degree or more to experience these feelings.
- Lower educational attainment particularly increases the likelihood that Oregonians experience these feelings nearly every day. Of those Oregonians with a high school education or less, 20% or more report they are bothered by feeling nervous or anxious (23%), having trouble relaxing (20%), or becoming easily annoyed or irritable (20%) nearly every day.
Tier 3: Not Being Able to Control or Stop Worrying
In the third tear is the only category experienced by a majority of Oregonians, but fewer than 60%: Not being able to control or stop worrying (54%) (Q2).
Tier 4: Experienced by Fewer Than 50% of Oregonians
The final tier consists of the only two categories the majority of Oregonians experience fewer than several days: being so restless it is hard to sit still, and feeling afraid, as if something awful might happen (46%, each) (Q5,Q7).
- These two categories have nearly identical scores for how frequently, and infrequently, most Oregonians are bothered by them.
Identifying What Unites Us, Understanding What Divides Us
Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups. Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.
- BIPOC Oregonians are significantly more likely to say they are very/somewhat optimistic about 2022 (62%), and twice as likely to say they are very optimistic (18%) when compared to their white peers (Q8).
- BIPOC Oregonians are more likely to report being somewhat or very concerned about their personal financial situation than white Oregonians (66% vs. 57%) (Q12).
- BIPOC and white Oregonians experience the feelings asked about in Q1-7 to a similar degree, with two particular exceptions (Q1-Q7):
- BIPOC Oregonians are significantly less likely than white Oregonians to say they do not experience difficulty relaxing (30% vs. 38%, respectively), or feeling afraid, as if something awful might happen (47% vs. 54%, respectively) (Q4,Q7).
- BIPOC Oregonians are more likely than most other demographic subgroups to say they are bothered by feeling afraid nearly every day (15%).
- Suburban Oregonians are the most likely to say they are optimistic about 2022 (55%), but a narrow majority of Oregonians from all areas share their optimism (50%-53%) (Q8).
- Similar proportions of the population in most areas of the state say things are headed in the right direction or off on the wrong track, with the exception of those in rural areas. Rural Oregonians are less likely than other Oregonians to say the state is headed in the right direction (29% vs. 38-41%) and more likely to say Oregon is off on the wrong track (63% vs. 48-51%) (Q9).
- Oregonians from rural parts of the state feel more strongly that economic conditions in the state are unfavorable. While most Oregonians living in other parts of the state describe economic conditions as only fair (39-41%), a similar percentage of rural Oregonians agree (39%), but a larger percentage say things are poor or very poor (41%) (Q10).
- A majority of rural Oregonians say economic conditions are getting worse (56%), while other parts of the state are more split on the trajectory of our state’s economic conditions. No other areas achieve majority agreement, although each is more likely to say things are getting worse rather than better (Q11).
- Oregonians living in urban areas were the most likely to say they are bothered by each category of feelings several days or more, while those living in rural areas were least likely. Oregonians in suburban or rural-changing-to-suburban areas fell somewhere between their urban and rural counterparts (Q1-7).
- Urban Oregonians were also more likely than other Oregonians to say they are bothered by these feelings nearly every day.
- As is often the case, younger Oregonians are the most optimistic about 2022, with about three-fifths saying they are very/somewhat optimistic. Oregonians ages 45-54 and 65-74 are the only age groups in which a majority are not optimistic about this year (45% and 49%, respectively) (Q8).
- A majority of all but the youngest and oldest Oregonians say the state is off on the wrong track. Those ages 30 to 74 think the state is off on the wrong track (51-64%), including nearly two-thirds of those ages 45-54 (64%) (Q9).
- Furthermore, among Oregonians in the 45-54 age cohort, a stunning 40% say the state is off on the wrong track, strongly.
- Only Oregonians ages 75 and older say the state is headed in the right direction (53%), while the youngest age group, 18 to 29 year-old’s, don’t achieve majority agreement (38% right direction, 48% wrong track).
- Oregonians’ rating of the current economic conditions tend to increase with age, with 17% of 18 to 29 year-olds giving an excellent/good rating compared to 30% of those 75 and older (Q10).
- Only 12% of those 75 and older give the state’s economy a poor/very poor rating, compared to a near-majority of 45 to 54 year-olds (46%).
- Oregonians ages 45-54 much more likely than any other age cohort to say economic conditions in the state are getting worse (59%), while those 75 and older are the most likely to say conditions are staying about the same (51%) (Q11).
- Oregonians’ level of worry about their personal financial situation tends to decrease with age. Three-quarters of those under age 45 (74-76%) and a majority of those ages 45 to 64 (54-59%) say they are very/somewhat worried about their personal financial situation, but that number drops to 36% for those ages 65-74 and 20% for those 75 and up (Q12).
- Age is a major indicator as to whether Oregonians are bothered by different feelings of worry. In every case, Oregonians under age 45 were much more likely to say they were bothered by these feelings several days or more (Q1-7).
- The difference by age is especially pronounced when examining how many people say they struggle with these feelings nearly every day.
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).
For More Information:
 Survey conducted January 8-13, 2021; DHM Research and OVBC; N=603
 Survey conducted February 11-17, 2021; OVBC; N=600
 Survey conducted September 14-22, 2021; OVBC; N=1,124
[4} Survey conducted April 1-6, 2021; OVBC; N=600