My View: Top 10 Oregon poll findings of 2017
'Tis the season for top 10 this and top 10 that. From movies to sports events, it is the time of year when people share their opinion about last year's good, bad and ugly.
Here are my top 10 findings from the "body opinion" of Oregonians in 2017, as measured by our monthly in-house studies. I offer them to help organizations with agenda setting, decision-making, and communications in the year ahead.
• Open records absolutely: In January, between 75 percent and 85 percent of Oregonians agreed that making data the government collects transparently available to the public holds government officials more accountable, allows journalists to cover government activities more thoroughly, and increases citizen impact on public affairs.
• California's tax system is better: In a blind test in February pitting Oregon's system against California's and Washington's, fewer than one in 10 voters preferred our current system.
• Nurse practitioners rock: Findings in March indicated strong support for nurse practitioners. Oregonians agreed the care they would receive from a nurse practitioner is equivalent to the care they would receive from a physician (72 percent), the cost of medical care would be less if there were more nurse practitioners (64 percent), and nurse practitioners can correctly identify serious health care problems and refer patients to specialists when necessary (84 percent).
• Questioning the picket fence: In June, a majority of Oregonians under age 30 reported not believing that homeownership provides financial security (61 percent) compared to nearly 90 percent of those 45 and older who do.
• Two camps about education: Slightly more than half of Oregonians agreed in July that the state's public education should focus on "whole child learning" — teaching critical thinking skills, independence, creativity and social skills. Nearly as many (49 percent) disagreed, feeling that Oregon's education should focus on teaching students the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workplace and contribute to society.
• Some employers discriminate: Though a majority of Oregon workers agreed in August that their employer treats all workers fairly, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation, about two in 10 (19 percent) disagreed, and an additional 7 percent weren't sure.
• Robot anxiety: Also in August, Oregonians said they thought technological advances and automation will result in significant or some job losses. Only 12 percent said there would be no effect on jobs or there would be job gains, and 7 percent did not know. They also strongly felt that technological advances and automation will result in more income inequality.
• People power alive and well: In September of the first year of President Trump, a majority of Oregonians said they can have an impact in making their community a better place to live, with about a quarter (27 percent) thinking they can have a "big" impact on their community.
• Not all rosy economically: In a year of a raging Wall Street bull market, a majority of Oregonians said in October that they were at least somewhat worried about their personal financial situation and more than seven in 10 residents said that income inequality is at least a moderate problem in Oregon. As validation of this, we learned in May that 72 percent of Oregonians agreed that our society would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal.
• Undocumented people supported: In November, 46 percent of Oregonians reported preferring a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, 23 percent preferred a path to permanent residency, and 22 percent thought they should have no legal way to stay in the country.
I've been in the business for a long time, and I must say 2017 was one of the most profoundly interesting years relative to quantitatively measuring and qualitatively understanding public opinion in Oregon.
Yet, despite everything that went on, Oregonians in every corner of the state remained consistent, and in agreement, on what they value about living in the state, the most important problems they want their elected officials to address, and what are the most important public services. These will carry over to this year.
Adam Davis has conducted opinion research in Oregon and across the country for 40 years, and is a founding principal in DHM Research. Visit: dhmresearch.com