Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Values & Beliefs Survey’

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.

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.

 

Our Opinion: To fix streets, city must act, not just talk

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

By Adam Davis, Co-Founder and Principal of DHM Research

On Thursday, April 3rd, Adam Davis’ op-ed on Portlanders’ priorities for road maintenance appeared in the Portland Tribune. Read the full article below. 

Watersheds and mass transit remain at the top of local government officials’ minds, but such fascinations shouldn’t obscure what Portland residents really care about: the potholes in their streets and lack of sidewalks in their neighborhoods.

Three Southwest Portland community meetings in the next few weeks provide a timely reminder about the importance of setting firm priorities.

The first meeting is a Southwest Watersheds Open House on April 23, which will highlight items such as the Southwest Huber Green Street Project, the Interstate 5 and 26th Avenue Terraced Rain Gardens and the Centennial Oaks project, to name a few.

Another meeting on April 29 focuses on the Southwest Corridor Project — a mass transit study that continues forward despite the recent Tigard vote putting that city on record opposing high-capacity transit.

What’s interesting about these meetings is that while there seems to be no end to the amount of money and attention allocated for planning the Southwest Corridor or ecologically friendly watershed projects, neither of these are particularly high on Portlanders’ wish lists.

Recent surveys have shown Portland residents are vastly more concerned about street maintenance and pedestrian safety than they are about rain gardens and trains.

Which brings us to the third meeting. On April 24, Mayor Charlie Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick and Transportation Bureau Director Leah Treat will talk to residents of Southwest Portland about the best way to fund transportation maintenance, safety and other related needs.

Hales, Novick and Treat are keenly aware that Portland has a plethora of streets in disrepair. The unfortunate reality is that little money is available to address these ever-pressing needs. And while neighboring Washington County took action to find a funding mechanism to address this issue, Portland has been content just talking about it.

Discussions are fine, but this isn’t a matter of finding out what’s important to Portlanders — or at least it shouldn’t be.

In the Transportation System Improvement Priorities survey prepared for the Portland Bureau of Transportation in February, people surveyed consistently highlighted pedestrian safety and general maintenance as their biggest transportation concerns.

In fact, the survey showed that Portlanders deemed safe pedestrian and street crossings as the most critical need. Forty-two percent said it was the most important thing to spend money on now. Thirty-six percent listed street maintenance as the most important.

The 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs Project prepared by DHM Research echoed those conclusions. In that survey, respondents were asked to name the most important issue that local government officials should do something about. The No. 1 answer? Road infrastructure.

Oregonians — and especially Portlanders — have made it quite clear that fixing roads and making them safer for vehicles and pedestrians alike is a top priority.

Every day that the needed maintenance is delayed only contributes to an ever-growing backlog of work to be done. What’s more, the fact that more money is needed to pay for the road improvements shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The time for “what if” and “what do you think” meetings has long since passed. It’s time for the Portland City Council to display leadership, find a solution, and start getting the work done.

There’s an old political adage that says if you want to stay in office, you keep the potholes filled, the streets paved and the sidewalks maintained.

Hales, Novick and Treat should keep that in mind as they consider the extent of Portland’s long-deferred street maintenance.

DHM’S AD IN MARCH OREGON BUSINESS MAGAZINE: WORKFORCE TRAINING

Posted on: February 5th, 2014 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the March edition of the Oregon Business Magazine, focusing on Oregonians’ support for enhanced job training to boost the economy. For more survey findings on what Oregonians support, visit the Oregon Values & Beliefs Project.

 

DHM PANEL SURVEY LOOKS AT TRUST IN ORGANIZATIONS

Posted on: January 13th, 2014 by dhm-research

Let’s talk about trust! We conducted an interesting DHM Panel survey of 375 Oregonians this month to test levels of trust in organizations: banks, public schools, Congress, and more were thrown into the mix. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole. Read on for a summary of some of the key findings from the survey.

To begin with, we asked participants to rate how much trust they have in a series organizations to act honestly and with high ethical standards: a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little trust. Full demographic breakdown after the chart.

Turns out, we trust our health and education systems here in Oregon! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was rated the highest by Oregonians, with an impressive 66% placing ‘a great deal’ (24%) or ‘quite a lot’ (42%) of trust in this organization. Oregon’s Public Colleges and Universities (50%), Hospitals (49%), and the K-12 Public School System (48%) followed in the next tier.

Oregonians had the least amount of trust in the United States Congress (3%). Local political institutions seem to be trusted a bit more, with 27% of Oregonians placing ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of trust in the Oregon Legislature.

There seems to be a trust divide between the two parties in more ways than one.

  • Republicans were roughly three times more likely than Democrats to place trust in banks (48% vs. 14%), the church or organized religion (75% vs. 26%), the United States military (69% vs. 23%), and the National Security Agency (21% vs. 8%). Additionally, 21% of Republicans trust pharmaceutical companies ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot,’ compared to only 1% of Democrats and 7% of Independents.
  • On the other hand, Democrats were more than twice as likely as Republicans to trust Oregon’s public colleges and universities (64% vs. 31%) and the K-12 public school system (64% vs. 26%). They were also three times as likely to trust the Oregon Legislature (39% vs. 13%), and a whopping eight times as likely to trust Labor Unions (41% vs. 5%).

From January 3-6 of 2014, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 375 Oregonians via the DHM Panel investigating issues involving levels of trust in both individuals and organizations. Survey demographics reflect the Oregon population as a whole. Margin of error: +/-5.1%. Results may add up to 99% or 101% due to rounding. To sign up for the DHM Panel click here

DHM’S AD IN JUNE OREGON BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Posted on: May 15th, 2013 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the June Oregon Business Magazine! Take the Oregon Values & Beliefs Survey here.