A growing share of Oregonians think the state is headed down the wrong track, if not at risk of derailing completely, according to polling data from the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.
Some 44% of Beaver State residents are pessimistic about Oregon's future, while only 35% are optimistic and the remaining 21% are unsure. Those results show a flip-flop from summer 2020, when 43% believed the state was headed in the right direction.
"As a whole, the government is infuriating," Melissa Aspell, one of the poll's respondents, said in a phone interview. "There's a lot of frustration with how Gov. (Kate) Brown runs things. And then clean up Portland, for God's sake!"
Aspell, a 39-year-old Bend resident, said she was concerned about the overgrowth of "cookie-cutter homes" in her neighborhood and the misallocation of government resources, but noted that local parks are well maintained and she has been able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
"(Some people) are pretty sure it's full of nanobots or something, but conspiracy theories aside, I had a considerably bad reaction to the second one," she said. "But I feel that was something my body needed to go through."
Roughly 600 Oregonians, who are part of a professionally-maintained polling group, participated in the online survey in January, with participants selected to correspond with state demographics. The poll's overall margin of error is 4%.
Here are the key findings:
• Democrats (51%) are significantly more positive about the state's near future, compared with Republicans (23%) and voters who belong to neither party (28%). Conversely, 66% of Republicans had a negative view of Oregon's future, compared with 29% of Democrats and 48% of independents.
• Just 2% of poll respondents rated Oregon's economy as excellent, vastly outnumbered by those who scored the state economy as poor (31%) or only fair (47%). Middle income earners (83%) were more likely to downrate the economy than the working class (74%).
• Nearly half of residents (47%) predict Oregon's economy is getting worse, compared to 11% who see an upturn on the horizon and 36% who foresee it treading water. Women (52%) were more likely to predict tighter wallets than men (43%). The most pessimistic age group was the middle aged.
• A slim majority (53%) are very or somewhat worried about their personal finances, while 45% are not too worried or not at all worried. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of those making less than $50,000 are concerned about the state of their pocketbook, compared with 33% of those bringing in more than $100,000 yearly.
• When asked about 2021 in general, rather than just Oregon, most residents (59%) are optimists, though (38%) are pessimistic.
Portlander Amy Bradley said the biggest factor in her sunny outlook was the rebalancing of power in Washington, D.C.
"I think the Democrats holding two branches of government is a good thing," the 51-year-old said. "People are out and spending money. Help is coming, and is coming to those who need it."
Chris Billington, who lives in the Sylvan area near Beaverton, admitted that mask wearing can be tiresome — and she's eager for restrictions to lift so she can take a dip in the pool — but said the state's response to climate change promised economic opportunities.
"There's a potential for new and different kinds of jobs," she said. "My biggest concern is the Republican walkout (of the Oregon Legislature), because that's just disruptive."
Republicans walked out of the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions, and briefly walked out again this year. The 2020 walkout ended the session before it really began.