Posts Tagged ‘Davis Hibbitts & Midghall’

Adam Davis: Get Ready for Election Show Business

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—August 20th, 2015
Portland Tribune

Did the Oregon Legislature meet this year? Many Oregonians would say, “I think so, but I’m not sure.”

They’ve been taking place, those meetings conducted by political party operatives and big donors to assess how things went in Salem this year and to decide what to do to get more Democrats or Republicans elected in Oregon. Maybe the rooms aren’t as smoke-filled as they once were, but make no mistake about it, the meetings are taking place, the checks are being written, the candidate recruitment is underway, the voter data bases are being massaged, and the candidate talking points are being developed and refined.

Come the day after Labor Day, all hell breaks loose for 2016. It’s show business, the kind of show business Lou Rawls sang about, “Oh you have a hard way to go; you got a lot of dues to pay, baby.”

Let’s pull up a chair and join one of these meetings. What does recent opinion research by DHM Research tell us about Oregon voters that may be of interest to campaign strategists and donors preparing for show business?

Looking back first, our research reveals that a striking number of voters are oblivious to the fact that there even was a 2015 legislative session. While a majority of Oregon voters are sure there was a session, 42 percent are not so sure or don’t know. Young voters are the most likely to believe there was not a session.

And how do Oregon voters feel about the session, even if they don’t know there was one? Less than a third (28 percent) believe that the Legislature was able to come together to accomplish a great deal. A plurality (39 percent) say the Legislature was bogged down by partisan differences and did not accomplish very much. And another third (32 percent) aren’t sure.

Republicans are two times more likely than Democrats to feel that the Legislature did not accomplish much, 54 percent to 27 percent. Non-affiliated/others split the difference at 40 percent. Additionally, many Oregon voters believe the Legislature did not address the most important issue they wanted it to do something about. Overall, not a glowing review.

“2015, that’s old news; the train has left the station. What can you tell us to help with 2016?” asks the campaign strategist at the table. Not so fast on 2015. What about the most important issues that Oregon voters feel the Legislature did not do something about? Wouldn’t that be valuable to know going into 2016? We’d hope so.

For Oregon voters, at the top of the list is the economy (code for “secure family-wage jobs”) followed closely by education and reducing government spending. There is no one issue that a majority of Oregon voters say is most important. Rather it is these three, and if you combine tax reform and reducing government spending into a public finance category, you’d have a statistical dead heat: public finance (26 percent), jobs and the economy (24 percent), and education (23 percent).

It isn’t news that the Republicans are more likely to say reducing government spending and Democrats are more likely to say education, but what may be helpful to know is which issues are in second and third places for the two political parties and how non-affiliated/others, who will be determinative in the elections next year, feel about these important issues.

For Republicans, it really comes down to just two issues: reducing government spending at 41 percent and the economy at 27 percent. Education comes in at a distant 10 percent, just ahead of the environment and transportation. It’s also a two-issue show for Democrats with education at 32 percent and the economy at 24 percent. In third place is the environment at 12 percent.

The non-affiliated/others are more divided with education at 27 percent, followed the economy at 21 percent and government spending at 18 percent.

In addition to knowing the most important issues, a candidate would be wise to know what voters value about living in their communities. Consistently since 1992 when DHM Research conducted the first Oregon Values and Beliefs Study, we’ve heard five things: natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, environmental quality, sense of community, and the climate. But what do they value the most?

For Republicans it is the sense of community at 43 percent, way ahead of natural beauty at 27 percent. Democrats are split between the same two qualities with both natural beauty and sense of community at 29 percent. Non-affiliated/others feel natural beauty is most important at 34 percent followed by sense of community at 27 percent.

And finally we’d tell them, you need to do focus groups to learn why people feel a particular issue is most important and how they feel about different public policy options related to that issue. The same suggestion goes for what they value about living in their community.

It’s all part of getting ready for show business.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal in DHM Research, an independent, nonpartisan firm. Visit: dhmresearch.com

Adam Davis: Voters support fixing campaign finance potholes

Posted on: July 6th, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—July 2, 2015
Portland Tribune

You think they would want to start filling the potholes. “They” being the Oregon Legislature, and the “potholes” being the gaps in trust Oregonians have for their state government, not in our roads and highways. Sorry gas tax advocates, this isn’t about you. This is about campaign finance reform.

Not surprising, Oregonians are not giving high marks to their state officials these days, and voters are increasingly feeling that state government is in need of a major repaving job. A majority of Oregonians either have an unfavorable or neutral opinion about the state Legislature and the number feeling “very favorable” is in single digits.

In a recently conducted statewide survey, when asked about their satisfaction with the attention the Oregon Legislature is giving to the important issues we’re facing today, 17 percent of voters were very dissatisfied compared to 7 percent who were very satisfied.

The rest were divided in their assessment. And in focus groups, we hear voters say the Legislature is wasteful and inefficient and not to be trusted to make good decisions.

Underlying these attitudes about the Oregon Legislature are a number of things including a lack of knowledge about what is going on in Salem and the transference of feelings about Washington, D.C., to Salem. But the bottom line is that Oregonians have either negative or neutral feelings (more “I don’t really care”) about the Legislature.

So, wouldn’t you think the Legislature might want to do something about it, like making it constitutionally possible to limit political campaign contributions, which a strong majority of Oregonians support? In a recent statewide survey, 63 percent of Oregon voters said they would vote for, or lean toward voting for, a measure that would amend the Oregon constitution to allow limits on campaign contributions by individuals and organizations.

Oregon is one of six states in the nation that has no limit on political campaign contributions.

It’s not that Oregonians have not made their feelings known. In 1994 and again in 2006 with Measure 47, Oregon voters endorsed campaign limits.

However, Oregon courts have ruled that limiting contributions will require an Oregon constitutional amendment.

A bill to rein-in unlimited campaign contributions (SJR5) was sent to the Legislature by Secretary of State Kate Brown before she became governor. Intended as a very basic referral to the voters, SJR 5 simply authorizes constitutional permission to the Legislature or the electorate to set campaign contribution limits. It doesn’t set limits, just allows them to be set via statutory law.

Key legislators, fearful that the public might set limits too low or fearful that any actual limitation won’t pass constitutional muster or result in independent (dark money) becoming a more potent element of the equation, have bottled up SJR5.

SJR5 is not a heavy lift. Baby steps, please. Time is running out. Don’t miss this opportunity to do something Oregonians support. Clear the way for those contribution limits to be set and enforced.

Then the Legislature can engage Gov. Brown’s proposal for a 15-member task force to recommend what specific statutory changes should be made to Oregon’s campaign finance system. One thing the task force may want to consider is putting limits on ballot measure campaigns in light of voter sentiment.

Why is all this important? There are two more reasons Oregon voters feel negative about state government and don’t trust their legislators.

One is they feel their vote doesn’t count. They pass measures, like they did in 1994 and 2006 for campaign finance reform, and they’re aren’t enforced. And perhaps the biggest reason for their negativity is the belief that big business and the unions are controlling things in Salem with campaign contributions, and instead of the voters, big donors are shaping our state’s future.

Referring an amendment to voters to allow limits on campaign contributions would send a message to Oregonians that the Legislature is listening and, with their support, wants to do business differently. The action would be good pothole repair and help repave voter trust in state government, something very much needed in light of the economic, environmental and social challenges Oregonians see facing our state.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal in DHM Research, an independent, nonpartisan firm.

Adam Davis: On values, beliefs, it’s still Venus vs. Mars

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—May 25, 2015
Portland Tribune

Remember “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” the book written by American author and relationship counselor John Gray? Indeed, when it comes to their feelings about many public-policy issues, female Oregonians may indeed be from Venus and males from Mars.

The average temperature on Venus is 864 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a lot hotter than on Mars, where the temperatures near the poles can get down to minus 195 degrees. This pretty well describes what we see in Oregon: Women and men register different temperatures on many issues. Considering the increasing number of women assuming leadership positions in society, it is important to understand these differences, for they may foreshadow a different kind of solar system for Oregon and the nation in the future.

Women and men fall differently on the political spectrum. Women are less likely than men to consider themselves conservatives and to instead be liberal or moderate on issues. In the 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs Survey, 41 percent of men consider themselves conservative on most economic issues, compared to 27 percent of women. A related finding from the same survey shows women are less likely to think that government provides too many services.

Hot issues for women are different than those for men. Women are more likely to say they are worried about their family’s personal financial situation than men, and they’re almost twice as likely to feel very worried. They also are more supportive of increasing the state minimum wage. Women show concern for how the economy grows more so than men. They feel our country would be better off if we all consumed less and agree that protection of the environment should be given priority over economic growth.

Women respond warmly to environmental protection issues. They are more likely to feel that climate change requires us to change our way of life, to support government investment in alternative fuel production, and want to expand public transportation rather than build new roads.

On the other hand, women show cooler reception to the status quo on gun control and the penal system. Gun control was a topic in a recently completed statewide survey for Oregon Public Broadcasting and a majority of women (55 percent) favor a law that would ban the sale and possession of assault weapons, compared to 44 percent of men. Women also are more likely to think that criminals should be rehabilitated rather than locked up.

Two more important issues for women are health care and inequality. More women than men support publicly funded health insurance, government cost controls for essential health care services, and having a health care system that rewards healthy behaviors and wellness. They also are more likely than men to feel — and feel strongly — that discrimination against minorities is still a serious problem in our nation and that there’s a need to dramatically reduce the inequalities.

There you have it, women from Venus, men from Mars. Should we be surprised? Not really. Historically, women care about and prioritize issues differently than men. Women are increasingly in position to leverage their concerns to effect change, however. More women than men are graduating from college every year, where they outperform their male counterparts. In addition, women also are healthier, more civically engaged, and have higher job satisfaction. All these characteristics are important components of leadership.

I got a glimpse of this while attending the Portland Business Journal’s Women of Influence Awards banquet earlier this month. The few males in attendance could not help but be impressed with the smarts, personality and achievements of this year’s award recipients and the hundreds of other women in attendance. I’d add that many of the guys present at the event also had to feel hopeful. Before us was the future leadership of our community and the state in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. May the force be with them.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal at DHM Research.

Su Midghall–2015 Women of Influence Orchid Award Winner

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by dhm-research

EO award

Adam Davis: Oregon has tough love for the environment

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—February 26, 2015
Portland Tribune

When it comes to our state’s future, we Oregonians often are divided (sometimes deeply) on such things as what the role of government should be, how much to tax ourselves, and what to spend the money on. There is one thing, however, that unites us: our love for Oregon’s natural beauty and its air and water. In other words, the environment.

In a 2014 scientifically conducted public opinion survey of more than 1,000 Oregonians, consensus about the importance of the environment stood out. When asked to identify what they value most about living in the state, respondents specified such things as the coast, the Columbia Gorge, the desert, the mountains, and our rivers, streams and lakes. Also mentioned were our farms and forestland, fresh air, and clean water. More general references were made to Oregon’s beauty, its scenery, nature, and wildlife.

Oregonians also value outdoor recreational opportunities — both the variety of those opportunities and their proximity. In focus groups we learn the reason why: You get to do them in a quality environment.

All these dimensions of the environment are important to Oregonians and are what they value about living in the state. We have to go way down the list to find any reference to something not directly or indirectly related to the environment. In fact, the first item not connected to the environment or to Oregon’s neighborliness or friendliness is — drum roll — no sales tax. Not having to pump your own gas also is mentioned, but such things as jobs and economic opportunity, our schools … nope. It may seem counterintuitive, but our top values do not necessarily align with our top concerns.

Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent; liberal, conservative or moderate; urban, suburban or rural; you’re likely to greatly value Oregon’s environment. Furthermore, you’re telling us in our surveys and focus groups why it is so important to you.

Environmental quality is important to Oregonians for a variety of reasons beyond providing a great setting for outdoor activities. People link it to better health, providing a legacy for future generations and pride in our state. Importantly, Oregonians also connect the environment to one of the top issues they’re concerned about and want their government officials to do something about: jobs and the economy.

We see how Oregonians prioritize the environment in DHM’s research surveys. When asked recently what the better way is for Oregon to promote economic growth, 70 percent chose maintaining a quality environment to attract people and companies to Oregon versus relaxing environmental protection to make it easier for companies to do business (23 percent). Oregonians have felt this way consistently over the years. They answered the same question similarly in both the 1992 and 2002 Oregon Values and Beliefs studies. Again, the value of a quality environment is recognized by a broad cross-section of Oregonians. Well, almost. Note for Republicans: You’re on the side of relaxing protections while a strong majority of Democrats and (listen up) Independents are in the maintaining quality camp.

It is one thing to say you value a quality environment for the different reasons mentioned above, but it is another to say you’re willing to pay more or change your behavior to protect it. Are Oregonians willing to put their money where their mouth is? The answer is yes and no. On the one hand, they have become recyclers, say they’re willing to change their behavior to help combat climate change, and support greater regulation of the coal industry and a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide a big company can emit. Such policies could lead to increased prices for products and services, showing there are times they are willing to step up and take on some burdens to protect the environment. But, on the other hand, they’re opposed to paying a carbon tax of 25 cents a gallon on gasoline and are divided on having higher density in their neighborhoods to prevent urban sprawl.

These research findings should not be a surprise. While Oregonians greatly value environmental quality, a majority also feel that government wastes money and can’t effectively administer programs, they don’t like big business, and they are struggling financially. So, people prefer to keep government out of it, minimize regulations or make the other guy pay, and make it more about monetary incentives and volunteering than about taxes and punishing regulations.

Oregonians also want to understand fully any proposal and hear information from a credible source (a very short list of individuals and organizations these days). Otherwise, in this era of cynicism, skepticism and negativity, any doubt at all is a death sentence for most tax or regulation proposals, even ones related to the environment. Lack of information irks Oregonians.

For example, we found that quantifying (how many more units) and qualifying (what kind of units will they be and what will they look like) greatly affects support levels for a proposal to have higher density in a neighborhood. How ideas are framed matters also. Instead of “preventing urban sprawl,” how about calling it “protection of farm and forestland?”

We love environmental quality in Oregon, but considering the bigger public opinion climate these days, it is a tough love. But then again, Oregonians are tough. Don’t bet against us when it comes to our state’s environmental quality.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal in DHM Research, an independent, nonpartisan firm. 

Adam Davis: Connect the Dots for True Economic View

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—January 20, 2015
Portland Tribune

News anchors and commentators are driving me crazy these days, even more than usual. The latest is how well the economy is doing. You’d think we’re back to the Roaring Twenties with the way they talk about job creation, falling unemployment rates, falling gasoline prices, rising home prices, and new stock market highs.

I even heard that because of how well things are going, and how the future looks even better, that the economy may not be a major issue during the next election cycle. Really? Well, if it isn’t, it should be. Voters have a long list of economic and economy-related concerns that they want their government officials to do something about. This is as true today as it was in 2008 at the beginning of the recession, despite reported signs of improvement.

The rosy picture painted for us by the media in their selective use of government statistics does not match what DHM Research sees and hears — and has been seeing and hearing for years — from surveys and focus groups with Oregonians. Granted, we do hear parroted back to us what the media is chirping about, with a majority of Oregonians thinking the economy is improving, but we also hear about newly-created jobs being part-time, employers not paying benefits, the rising cost of health care and other necessities, and income inequality.

In rural Oregon, the mood is especially grim. We hear about no jobs and generally poor social and economic conditions. Then there’s underemployment, which a strong majority of Oregonians consider to be as serious or more serious a problem than unemployment.

It is no wonder a bad economy is still one of the most important problems Oregonians want their state and local government officials to do something about. But there are other problems as well, which aren’t always presented as economic (because they don’t refer directly to the economy or jobs), but perhaps should be.

From younger Oregonians, we hear about rising tuition costs and student debt. From moms and dads we hear about children moving back home after college because they cannot make it on their own — the boomerang generation. Parents worry that their children will be materially worse off in adulthood than they were.

Many Oregonians worry that their jobs might be eliminated because of technology, outsourcing, or through a merger or consolidation, and they ask themselves, “What would I do?” Expressed fears include bankruptcy, age discrimination, and not having the skills to compete in the job market.

Another source of insecurity is feeling financially unprepared for retirement. For members of the “sandwich generation,” the anxieties are magnified when having to care for aging parents while at the same time supporting their own children.

And from Oregon businessmen and women, in addition to comments about the challenges of meeting payrolls and making money, we hear about “indirect” economic issues, including failing transportation, water and sewer systems, not being able to find qualified employees, and the impact of climate change on the future of the agriculture and timber industries.

Finally, there are Oregon’s student performance and poverty statistics, which are not good compared with other states. Many Oregonians are aware of the rankings, which fuel their concerns about the current and future health of our economy.

It is all connected. Many of the issues Oregonians are concerned about, or use as indicators of how we’re doing as a state, are connected to the economy. We may not see these relationships until someone helps us connect the dots. But connecting the dots doesn’t usually make for dramatic headlines; rather, it takes good reporting, with the associated investment of money and time. The economy remains the No. 1 issue.

Dear media: Help us connect the dots.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal of DHM Research

DHM Panel Survey: Poverty and Income Inequality

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by dhm-research

In November of 2014, DHM Research conducted a scientific survey of 474 Oregonians using the DHM Panel to gauge their opinions on issues related to poverty and income inequality. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole.

First, respondents were asked to select which of the following statements is most reflective of their general views on poverty:

Capture 3

A majority of respondents (53%) felt that Statement B was more reflective of their personal beliefs about poverty than Statement A (37%). One in ten (10%) were unsure.

Demographic Differences: There was a significant partisan divide. A strong majority of Republicans (74%) selected Statement A vs. 12% of Democrats and 35% of independents. On the other hand, 81% of Democrats selected Statement B vs. 20% of Republicans and 52% of Independents. While men were evenly split on the statements, women were much more likely to agree with Statement B than Statement A (58% vs. 31%).

Next, respondents were provided a list of issues and asked to indicate whether they believed each was a major cause, a minor cause, or not a cause of poverty.

Capture 2

More so than any other response, 66% of respondents selected “too many jobs being part-time or low-wage” as a ‘major cause of poverty.’ The other two responses that were designated ‘major causes of poverty’ by a majority of respondents were “too many single-parent families” and “a shortage of jobs” (both 51%). On the other hand, “too many immigrants” was the only response chosen by a majority of respondents (51%) to be ‘not a cause of poverty.’

Demographic Differences: Again, there were major partisan differences. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to believe that the following were ‘major causes of poverty’: “the welfare system” (70% vs. 12% of Democrats); “too many single-parent families” (63% vs. 39%); “poor people lacking motivation” (56% vs. 16%); “decline in moral values” (54% vs. 13%); “drug abuse” (50% vs. 38%); and “too many immigrants” (49% vs. 9%). In contrast, a majority of Democratic respondents believed that the following were ‘not causes of poverty’: “too many immigrants” (73% vs. 23% of Republicans); “decline in moral values” (67% vs. 14%); and “the welfare system” (57% vs. 8%). Generally, Independents did not tend to agree more frequently with either Democrats or Republicans on these issues, and instead tended to rest in the middle, aligning pretty closely with the overall average.

The margin of error on this survey was +/-4.5%. To join the DHM Panel click here.

Why DHM Will Never Have a Robot Call You

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by dhm-research

By Paul Gronke, DHM Research

Like everyone, we’re inhaling every snippet of news these days, trying to get a good read about the upcoming election. That’s why this story grabbed our eye: “Hispanic Voters Buck Assumptions: Back GA GOP Candidates.

If true, this would be quite a story. Latino voters are a rapidly growing segment of the electorate.  Latinos tend to be religious and socially conservative but liberal on issues of immigration and other economic issues.  Latino voters were key to both of Obama’s victories, delivering nearly 75% of their votes for the Democratic ticket—15% more than voted for John Kerry in 2004.  Cubans, the one reliably Republican group among Latinos, now show only a tiny Republican advantage over Democrats (47% – 44%).  (Look here to see how Oregon’s Latino electorate compares to Latinos nationwide.)

What’s up in the Peach State?  It turns out, nothing much at all, other than bad survey methodology. SurveyUSA, the firm that conducted the survey, relies on phone calls using the “recorded voice of a professional announcer.”  In other words, robo-calls.

What are the problems with robo-calls?  Robo-calls have a “Republican house effect” as high as four percent. And the surveys are conducted only in English, excluding any respondent who wants to take the poll in Spanish.  The result of all this is that the news story turns out to be based on only 38 Latino respondents!  In short, the story is bunk.

This is why, at DHM, we’ll never have a robot call you.

DHM Research relies on three kinds of survey methods—telephone interviews, internet surveys, and focus groups—and three kinds of samples—random digit dialing (for telephone), randomly selected online surveys, and online panels.  We pay close attention to cutting edge academic research on the use of online panels and internet surveys in particular, to make sure we avoid any kind of “house bias.”

In fact, we’re pleased to report that Nate Silver recently found DHM’s party bias to be zero point zero.

 

DHM Panel Survey–Oregonians Weigh in on Taxes

Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by dhm-research

By Chris Merkel, DHM Research

Political leaders in Oregon have indicated that they are planning a comprehensive review of Oregon’s tax system in the 2015 legislative session. In an effort to gauge where Oregonians stand on taxes, DHM Research conducted an online survey via the DHM Panel.

As we found out in the 2013 Oregon Values and Belief Survey, Oregonians consider education funding and education quality, followed by the economy and jobs, to be the most important issues they want their state and local government officials to address. That being said, when Oregonians are pushed on the issue of taxation, there seems to be a consensus: Oregonians are ready for tax reform, with 68% of DHM Panel respondents describing tax reform as an urgent (‘very urgent’ and ‘somewhat urgent’) priority in the 2015 legislative session. This sentiment was especially strong amongst residents of the Willamette Valley (87%) vs. those from the Tri-county region (68%) and the rest of the state (47%). What is more, Oregonians prefer a comprehensive approach to tax reform. When asked which combination of property, income and/or additional taxes residents want addressed, a plurality (47%) said that the State Legislature should address income taxes, property taxes, and consider additional taxes (while 29% would prefer that the Legislature only consider income and property taxes).

So what might make Oregonians more likely to support statewide tax reform?

For one thing, 76% of respondents said they would be more likely to support tax reform if it ensured that all properties with similar market values would be taxed at similar levels – a sentiment shared by all major demographic groups. Surprisingly, the possibility of lowering taxes for all property owners only made 52% of respondents more likely to support tax reform. This potential outcome was particularly effective for Republicans, 70% of whom said they would be more likely to support tax reform in the event that it lowered tax rates for all property owners.

There were two things in particular though, that seem to make Oregonians less likely support comprehensive tax reform: reducing funding for government services and schools. Notably, 70% of respondents in this study indicated that any decreases to public school funding would make them less likely (‘somewhat’ or ‘much less’) to support tax reform, including 90% of Democrats. Additionally, when asked how a decrease in funding for local government services, such as police, fire and roads would affect their thinking, 65% of respondents said it would make them less likely to support tax reform.

Ultimately, Oregonians are showing some appetite for tax reform. While interested in maintaining or increasing funding for existing governmental services, Oregon residents also want property taxes to be more consistent, including the assurance that all properties with similar markets values would be taxed at similar levels.

If you’re interested in learning more about tax reform in the upcoming legislative session, check out the League of Oregon Cities Property Tax Reform Guide.

Make sure you’re registered to vote and stay tuned for upcoming DHM Panel surveys, election forecasts, and more!

In total, 447 Oregonians participated in this survey, with the margin of error for each question falling between +/-2.8% and +/-4.6%. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole.

 

DHM Panel Survey Looks at Impressions of Oregon’s Public Schools

Posted on: July 21st, 2014 by dhm-research

Joe Gladow, DHM Research

Oregonians are not impressed with the job their public schools are doing. That’s what a DHM Panel survey conducted last month revealed when it asked 404 Oregon residents about their opinions of public schools in the state. Opinions are slightly more positive, however, about their own local school district than public schools statewide.

Asked about public schools statewide, just three in 10 (30%) Oregonians said they are doing a “very” good or “somewhat” good job, with only 4% saying they are doing a “very” good job. Conversely, four in 10 (41%) said they are doing a “somewhat” bad or “very” bad job. Two in 10 (23%) said they are doing a neutral job.

Ratings are slightly higher for local school districts. Four in 10 (41%) said their local public school district is doing a “very” good or “somewhat” good job, while three in 10 (32%) said they are doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job. Two in 10 (21%) said they are doing a neutral job.

 Performance Rating of Public School Districts:

public schools

However, Oregonians have a more negative view of their local district than they did two years ago. Asked if their opinion of their local public school district had become more positive, more negative, or stayed about the same from two years ago, one third (33%) of Oregonians said it became more negative, while half (49%) said it stayed about the same. Just 15% had a more positive opinion.

The reasons cited for this increased negativity varied, ranging from limited funding to overcrowded classrooms to poor management. The following quotes provide a taste of participants’ responses:

  • “Funding is low, leading to large class sizes and inadequate support. Key aspects of schools are being cut or reduced, rather than expanded to focus on the needs of average students.”
  • “Teachers are overworked and can’t take the time to focus on needs of the individual students. The school year is too short. Discipline problems are ignored and students trying to learn pay for that.”
  • “As always and for the past few decades, the administrators of our schools have absolutely no clue on how to manage their budget. The results are fatter paychecks for them and superintendents, with teachers and students suffering the consequences.”

Demographic Differences:

Compared to two years ago, younger Oregonians’ opinions have declined more so than older residents: Ages 54 and under were more likely than ages 55+ to have a more negative opinion of their local district from two years ago (41% vs. 18%).

  • Ages 55+ were more likely than younger Oregonians to have the same opinion of their local district (69% vs. 38%).

Overall, Republicans believe that schools are doing a poorer job than Democrats: Republicans were more likely than Democrats and Independents to say that their local public school district is doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job (Rep: 46%, Dem: 23%, Ind: 26%).

  • Republicans and Independents were more likely than Democrats to say that Oregon’s public schools are doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job (Rep: 56%, Ind: 47%, Dem: 23%).

The poll was conducted by DHM Research in June 2014. Survey demographics reflect the Oregon population as a whole. The margin of error was +/-4.9%.