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The perception that the economy is worse than a year ago could spell trouble for Democrats on Nov. 8.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Oregonians are concerned about the state economy as election day nears.An increasing number of Oregonians are concerned about the state of the economy, the latest case of public disillusionment with the direction the state is headed as voters mail in their ballots to choose a new governor and other state leaders next week.

That's the overarching theme from a new survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, a nonpartisan group that releases periodic statewide surveys on issues ranging from the economy and the environment to politics and healthcare.

Those polled were asked how worried they are about Oregon's economic future — 75% of those surveyed said they were either very or somewhat worried while just 23% said they were not at all or not too worried about the future of the state.

The overall perception that the economy is worse than it was a year ago could spell trouble for Democrats in the Nov. 8 general election. Political observers say the negative outlook on the economy is one reason why Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan has managed to keep pace with Democrat Tina Kotek in a state that historically votes blue in statewide elections.

The survey was conducted between Sept. 13-21 and involved 1,878 Oregon residents aged 18 and up. The margin of error is 2.3%.

When asked to rate the economic condition of Oregon's economy today, 2% of respondents said it is "excellent," 23% said it is "good," 36% said "only fair," 23% said it is "poor," and 12% described it as "very poor."

Most Oregonians (60%) that responded to the survey said it's more important to maintain the natural environment to attract people and companies to Oregon, compared to 25% who said it would be better to relax environmental rules to make doing business easier.

Crook County resident Sidney Stringer said in the survey that leaders should "stop paving paradise," a reference to the breakneck speed of development happening across Central Oregon.

The survey also showed that Oregonians were mostly split on how taxes should be spent — 26% of respondents said too much is spent on public services, 30% said the right amount is spent on public services and 30% said Oregon is not spending enough on public services.

When asked what issue elected leaders need to focus on most, homelessness was listed as the most important issue, with 35% of respondents putting it at the top of the list. Housing, crime, inflation, and climate change were other listed concerns.

Daniel Olson, another Deschutes County resident, said there's a danger in offering too many services to assist houseless people. "We have moved past helping and are doing more enabling of bad behavior," he said.

Another Deschutes County resident sees the problem, not as one caused by too many handouts, but as one caused by poor performance from elected officials.

"I think they have the right amount of money (for homeless care)," said Amanda Wallace. "They are just spending it wrong."

The Bulletin is a news partner of the Pamplin Media Group.

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