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Poll indicates partisanship, pandemic, recession and other factors take their toll

PMG FILE PHOTO - Nearly seven out of every 10 Oregonians believe democracy has weakened across the United States over the past four years.

Faith in democracy has dimmed.

After years of tumult, riots, economic uncertainty and low-blow politics — not to mention a global pandemic — nearly seven out of every 10 Oregonians believe democracy has weakened across the United States over the past four years.

Residents describe a slightly more fortified state of affairs closer to home, with roughly six out of 10 statewide saying democracy in Oregon has diminished over the past four years.

The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, a nonprofit created by DHM Research founder Adam Davis, compiled those results after surveying 600 residents, selected to be statistically representative of the state, in early March. The margin of error is 4%.

Here are the hard numbers:

-- More than two-thirds (69%) say American democracy has weakened in the past four years, compared with 22% who say it is stronger and 9% who were unsure. Seniors (77%) and self-identified liberals (78%) are more likely to see an attenuation of democratic strength, while conservatives (30%) and rural residents (33%) have a larger share who see American democracy as stronger now than before.

-- Oregon democracy gets slightly higher marks, with one quarter of the population (25%) saying it has beefed up in the past four years, 61% saying it has weakened and 14% unsure. Whites (63%) are significantly more likely to believe Oregon's representative government has weakened compared to non-whites (48%). Democrats (37%) and college grads (35%) are more likely to see the system as bulking up.

Despite their belief in a faltering form of government, Oregonians are essentially split 50-50 when asked to rate their satisfaction with the way democracy actually performs on Capitol Hill and in Salem.

-- Nearly half (45%) are satisfied with American democracy, compared to 51% who aren't and 4% who are unsure. Portland metro area (49%) and Democrats (57%) are more likely to be satisfied, compared with more than half of suburbanites (56%) and Republicans (55%) who said they aren't satisfied.

-- Once again, Oregon scores a tad higher than America as a whole, with 49% satisfied with Oregon democracy and 46% unsated and 4% unsure. Urban dwellers (59%) are statistically more likely to be satisfied than rural residents (34%).


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