Posts Tagged ‘political polling’

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:

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

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.


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.


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


Posted on: June 4th, 2013 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the upcoming July edition of the Oregon Business Magazine, featuring our successful relationship with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI)!


Posted on: April 3rd, 2013 by dhm-research

On Wednesday, DHM Research Founder and Principal Adam Davis continued the conversation on the Chalkboard Project’s blog site. An excellent article, and even more we’re proud to partner with our friends at the CP, adding to the conversation and working to make our education system the ideal model it should and can be. Read Adam’s snippet below, and then read the full post here:

Much is made in Oregon of the urban/rural divide—the supposed gulf that separates Oregonians living in urban and rural areas of the state based on differences in their values and beliefs. I started measuring these differences thirty-six years ago when I first began to research opinion in all corners of the state. While there are important differences, what I also learned then, and continue to see in our surveys today, is how similar we Oregonians are in much that we hold dear, regardless of where we live in the state. Too often only the differences are reported by the media and beaten like a drum in political speeches.

With all the challenges we face as a state, including the need to improve our public education system, it is important to acknowledge the values and beliefs we share and try to build our future on these, rather than let differences separate us and undermine our efforts to build a better Oregon for our children and grandchildren.

What do Oregonians value about living in the state? It doesn’t matter where you live. The answers are the same: natural beauty, clean air and water, proximity and variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, sense of community, and . . . the climate!  READ MORE

DHM Panel Survey Finds Urgency For Immigration Reform

Posted on: February 12th, 2013 by dhm-research

From January 25-28 of 2013, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 365 Oregonians via the DHM Panel on issues related to gun control and immigration. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole. The margin of error on the survey was +/- 5.1%.

Below is a summary of our findings from the immigration portion of the survey:

  • Participants were twice as likely to agree with the statement that (A) immigrants are essential to building the future economy in Oregon; without them we will not have enough workers in the future (68%) than with the statement (B) immigrants take away jobs from residents of Oregon; we need to do everything in our power to keep them from coming into Oregon (32%).
  • Agreement with statement A was significantly higher among Democrats than Republicans (89% vs. 48%).
  • Agreement with Statement A was higher among Tri-County (72%) and Willamette Valley (73%) residents than residents from the rest of the state (58%).
  • A slim majority (52%) of Republicans agreed with statement B, the only demographic group to have majority agreement with that statement.
  • When considering all of the important issues facing the country, 69% viewed federal immigration reform as either “very” (31%) or “somewhat” (38%) urgent. This was a 10% overall decrease in urgency from a similar survey conducted about the issue in 2010.
  • Overall urgency (“very/somewhat”) for immigration reform increased with age (18-34: 57%; 35-54: 67%; 55+: 81%). In fact, those 55+ had the highest such rating among all demographic groups, while those 18-34 had the lowest.
  • Overall urgency for immigration was nearly identical among Democrats and Republicans. However, Republicans were more than twice as likely to consider it “very” urgent than Democrats (46% vs. 22%).

Thanks again to all who participated in this survey. To sign up for the panel and participate in upcoming surveys click here. There are more interesting surveys to come!