Portland poll: More than 80% say life getting worse, City Hall broken

By Portland Business Alliance,
The Alliance just released the results of a public opinion poll, conducted by DHM Research, designed to better understand the attitudes of voters throughout the region about key concerns, jobs and the economy.

For more information, contact: [email protected]

Key Findings

  • 88% of voters polled say that quality of life is getting worse – up from 49% in 2017.
  • 62% of voters polled say that the Portland region is headed on the wrong track – up from only 26% in 2017.
  • Voters overwhelmingly support requiring people currently living outside to sleep in shelters or designated camping areas.
  • Most voters overwhelmingly support specific policies to address public safety. Most notably, 90% of voters polled “strongly” or “somewhat” support funding to require police officers to wear body worn cameras, while another 83% “strongly” or “somewhat” support funding to hire and train new police officers.
  • Voter trust in local elected officials regarding the economy and jobs is low. Notably, voter mistrust of local officials is at 66%.
  • 81% of polled voters view City Council as ineffective when it comes to providing public services.
  • A majority of Portland voters (56%) support a switch to a unified city government with a professional city manager that reports to City Council, with only 8% of voters opposing.
  • Stronger majorities support district elections of Portland city commissioners. Annual polling over time reveals that, for the last three years, 70% or more of voters have consistently supported moving to districts.

Survey Details

Each year, the Portland Business Alliance contracts with DHM Research to survey voters and better understand the shared experience of those who live here.

From December 9 to December 15, 2021, DHM Research conducted a survey of 500 registered voters in the tri-county area. The purpose of the survey was to track opinions about the economy, jobs, and community issues over time, as well as to measure support for local governance and policy proposals.

This hybrid (phone and text-to-online) survey included 250 voters in the City of Portland, and 250 voters from Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties who do not live within the Portland boundary. This is a sufficient sample size to assess voter opinions generally and to review findings by multiple subgroups, including age, gender, region, and party affiliation. Statistical weighting by age, gender, region, and party affiliation allows us to ensure results are representative of registered voters. The margin of error for the full tri-county sample is +/- 4.4%; and the for the City of Portland sample is +/- 6.2%.

Voter Pessimism

Voters who think the region is off on the wrong track (62%) far exceed those who say it’s heading in the right direction (16%), with negativity even higher in Portland (76%) than in the rest of the tri-county area (53%). These negative perceptions have grown considerably. In January 2020, just 28% of voters felt the region was headed in the wrong direction. Outlook on quality of life also follows a similar trend, with nine in ten voters (88%) regionwide now saying quality of life is getting worse compared to roughly half of voters (49%) expressing such a negative outlook in January 2020.

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