Portland voters believe the city is heading the wrong way, according to survey

Of the 500 respondents to a recent survey, about 40% cited homelessness as their top concern, and 50% expressed pessimism about future employment prospects.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The majority of Portland metro area voters are dissatisfied with the direction in which Portland and the surrounding local governments are headed.

Located in Portland, DHM Research polled 500 voters in the Portland metro area. It included portions of Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties. For twelve years, the Portland Metro Chamber and the research firm have collaborated on the survey, which measures voter sentiment regarding the region’s top concerns. The survey was run from December 13 through 19. According to DHM Research, the survey has a 4.4% margin of error and is intended to elicit responses from a range of ages, political affiliations, and geographic locations.

Michelle Neiss, president of DHM, told reporters on Wednesday, “The survey starts by determining generally where people are, and we ask them their feelings about where the county in which they live is headed. As a whole, 51% of respondents in all three counties in the region believe that their county is headed the wrong way. This just continues the trend of general pessimism that has persisted over the past few years.”

There was a negative trend in voter sentiment across several categories. According to slightly more than half of the respondents, Portland is headed in the wrong direction. Eight out of ten respondents claimed that Portland’s quality of life is declining. Almost half of the electorate claimed that their situation had worsened since two years ago. For the first time, a greater proportion of respondents expressed a pessimistic rather than an optimistic opinion of upcoming economic opportunities.

According to Neiss, this represents a change from prior years, when neutrality or optimism may have outnumbered negativity. “That is unquestionably a warning sign to heed. It is a sobering experience.”

In an open-ended question about the greatest issue facing Portland, 40% of respondents identified homelessness. That aligns with surveys from the past. Voters also mentioned concerns like drug abuse and addiction, crime and safety, and affordable housing that are frequently linked to homelessness.

The survey results are released just as the short five-week session of the Oregon legislature gets underway. State leaders, such as Governor Tina Kotek, have identified affordable housing and the state’s addiction crisis as the session’s top concerns. The Portland Metro Chamber represents more than 2,000 member companies and organizations in the capitol.

The voter sentiment survey is released at the same time that other economic data point to a recovery in the economy from the pandemic downturn. Economists are becoming more optimistic about the United States’ ability to avoid a recession as a result of declining inflation and robust consumer spending. Furthermore, the unemployment rate in Oregon is just 3.7%, which is close to historic lows given the overall low rate in the nation.

Portland Metro Chamber vice president Jon Isaacs said that even though there are indications that the city is recovering from the pandemic, the poll indicates that voters’ perceptions of the city remain flawed.

Isaacs told journalists, “We also need to acknowledge and value the viewpoints of those who live in the area and realize that it will take time for locals, such as voters and taxpayers, to begin to notice a difference. We are not at that point yet.”


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