By Ilie Mitaru
What’s on the mind of Oregon voters?
Pollster Tim Hibbitts of DHM Research attempted to answer this question at a breakfast hosted by the Portland Business Alliance at the Governor Hotel early Wednesday morning.
The findings come from a 600-person survey of registered voters in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Marion counties. The polling was done by DHM Research in partnership with Portland General Electric.
So how weird is Portland? When it comes to economic priorities compared to the rest of the nation, it turns out, not that weird.
When asked about the biggest issue facing the area, 38% said jobs. Overall, 47% of respondents said the state was going in the right direction and 35% thought we were going in the wrong direction. Twenty five percent described the regions economy as in a “severe recession,” while 22% said the economy “was not getting better or worse at the present time.”
The forum—entitled Portlandia—Fact or Fiction?—drew repeated laughs when
Hibbitts poked fun at the barista-by-day-musician-by-night stereotype portrayed by IFC series Portlandia. “We have a national image that is quirky and a little weird” he said. “Some folks like it, most do not.”
When residents were asked how well the state ranked in terms of income levels, 3% said we were at the highest; 13% we have a higher income than average, 47% said we were average, and 27% said we have a lower income than average. Oregon is currently about 10% lower than the national average. “It’s pretty clear that voters are not connected to the fact that we’ve slipped below the national average,” said Hibbitts.
When asked about regional disparities between Portland and the surrounding areas surveyed, Hibbitts said, “I was more surprised by the lack of differences than by the differences.” Hibbitts repeatedly stressed Oregonian’s concerns for good jobs.
The PBA will be using the poll results as the basis for a “Jobs Scorecard”, which measures “how our region’s elected leaders are doing in terms of job creation at the end of the year.” The methodology of this scorecard remains unclear.
The state did add 9,800 jobs in February, numbers available only after the completion of the survey. It was the largest jobs gain since November 1996. With unemployment at 10.2 percent however, Oregonians’ priorities probably remained the same. And until there is serious job recovery, will probably remain.
Ilie Mitaru is an associate writer for Oregon Business.