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Seventy-five percent of participants say homelessness is their primary concern, organization's survey reports.

Oregonians might be interested in new research about their beliefs and opinions.

The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (OVBC), an independent and non-partisan organization, conducted a statewide survey in December to research how residents feel about the state's future and what they perceive to be the most important issues politicians should address.

OVBC then compared the results of December's survey to data collected in October 2020 to observe how beliefs about Oregon's future and the state's biggest issues changed over the course of a year. Later they compared what worried and did not worry participants, as well as gauging different demographics.

The survey consisted of 1,233 Oregonians age 18 and older, and took around 15 minutes for participants to finish. Researchers contacted participants via online panels and employed various methods to ensure accurate and quality data. To guarantee a representative sample, researchers set demographic quotas and weighted data by state, gender, age and education.

The survey compares the opinions of BIPOC and white residents using aggregated data. As the term BIPOC refers to many races and ethnicities, organizers advised people to not interpret the data as stating all people of color share the same opinions. Once the sample size is determined to be reliable, aggregated race data will be made available.

The survey has a 95% confidence interval and a margin of error of plus/or minus 1.7 to 2.8%, contingent on how response category percentages were divided for each question. The data listed below is only preliminary; more in-depth research will be conducted in the future.

How worried are Oregonians for the state's future?h3>

For this question, participants were asked to rate how worried they were about Oregon's future on a scale of "not at all worried" to "very worried."

According to survey, 75% of participants said they were somewhat or very worried about Oregon's future, with 29% of those responding that they are very worried. Twenty-three percent of the remaining participants said they are not too worried or not all worried about Oregon's future; 2% answered that they were unsure or didn't know.

In October of 2020, 80% of survey participants reported that they were somewhat or very worried about Oregon's future, with 31% of those participants reporting they were very worried. Nineteen percent of the remaining participants said they were not too worried or not all worried; 1% answered that they were unsure or didn't know.

The researchers theorize that the difference is because the October 2020 survey took place during the middle of the pandemic, when people had fewer resources such as vaccines or relief funding available, and election season loomed.

What do Oregonians believe is the most important issues elected leaders need to address?

In December, participants were asked to state in a few words or a sentence the problem they feel is the most important issue Oregon's leaders to address; the answers were then grouped based on topic. In previous surveys, participants were asked to choose the biggest problem from a list of issues.

Despite the year gap and the change in question structure, participants listed many of the same important issues between December 2021 and October 2020, with homelessness, climate change and the environment, affordable housing and crime/law and order remaining in the top four.

Homelessness received the highest percentage in both years, with 27% in 2021 and 29% in 2020. The other three issues, while swapping spots in 2021, still hovered close together in percentages.

Researchers noted a change in participants' perspective on COVID-19 between the two years. In 2020, 6% of participants selected the spread of the virus and the need to control it as Oregon's most pressing issue.

In 2022, 7% of participants mentioned COVID-19, but unlike the previous year, they expressed concerns with opening back up and protecting personal freedoms. Researchers theorize that the conflicting answers between December and October represent different subgroups of Oregonians.

Recently, OVBC asked Oregonians about homelessness and mental health, issues that are often linked. To view the blog post on homelessness, visitoregonvbc.org/homelessness/. The blog on mental health is visible at oregonvbc.org/mental-health/.

Comparing 'worried' vs. 'not worried' Oregonians on the most important issues

Researchers compared the opinions of "worried" Oregonians and "not worried" Oregonians on the eight issues with the highest percentages. The top eight issues included homelessness, climate change and environment, affordable housing, crime and safety, elected officials, COVID-19, divisiveness between rural/city and the economy.

Thirty-two percent of "not worried" participants said homelessness was the most important issue versus 25% of "worried" participants. All the rest of the issues ranged from 6% to 12% for both groups. There were minor percentage differences for crime and safety, lack of trust and accountability in elected officials and divisiveness between rural and city areas; "worried" participants were more likely to list these issues as most pressing.

Demographic differences

Researchers looked for differences between subgroups, including BIPOC and white participants, urban and rural participants and age. Differences found in the survey were not large.

White and BIPOC participants reported similar levels of worry about Oregon's future, with 75% of the former reporting they are worried versus 72% of the latter saying they were worried. Both subgroups identify homelessness as the most pressing issue (26% of white participants and 27% of BIPOC participants).

Urban and rural participants reported similar levels of worry about Oregon's future, but different percentages on the most important issue. Both groups had homelessness as their top concern, but urban participants significantly more so (32% versus 15% of rural participants).

Affordable housing (14%) came in second for urban participants, followed by climate change and environment (12%). Climate change (12%) came in second for rural participants, followed by COVID-19 (11%). Based on this survey, rural Oregonians are most likely to be worried about opening back up and personal freedoms.

Younger participants reported less concern about Oregon's future than older age groups, but 68% still said they are worried. Younger and older participants agreed on the most important issues, but they expressed less concern about climate change and more about affordable housing.


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