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Partisanship, pandemic and a mini recession take their toll, according to the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Washington County election officials prepared for late ballots ahead of the November 2020 elections. Harsh partisan battles have eroded many Oregonians' faith in the political process, a survey finds.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 last four years.

PMG GRAPHIC: MOLLY FILLER - The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center found that Oregonians are losing faith in democracy.The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, a nonprofit created by long-time pollster Adam Davis as a service to the community, 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.

PMG GRAPHIC: MOLLY FILLER - The Oregon Values and Center found that faith in Oregon democracy is faltering across OregonDespite 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%).

COURTESY PHOTO: MOTOYA NAKAMURA, MULTNOMAH COUNTY - Brian Kidd, better known as the Unipiper, wheels his way toward a Portland mailbox in order to post his mail-in ballot, in April 2020. A new survey finds many Oregonians growing disillusioned about Democracy.

Democracy: The Grand Experiment

The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center asked poll respondents to describe why they believe Oregon democracy has strengthened — or weakened — over the past four years. Here's what they said:

It has strengthened:

• "Because we have Democratic leadership. States with the GOP are severely hurting us."

• "More acceptance of people of color."

• "People in Oregon care about what is going on and take action."

• "Because of our governor, Kate Brown."

It has weakened:

• "One party rule. GOP has become more irrelevant and radical. No real counter to Democrats."

• "We don't seem to care much that our governor's 'emergency COVID powers' have gone on for a year."

• "Liberals.... they want larger government, more controls and higher taxes."

• "An uptick in violence in the larger cities."


Zane Sparling
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