DHM Research Blog

The Path Forward on Immigration: Oregonians Support Policies That Support Undocumented People
Posted on: December 13th, 2017 by dhm-research No Comments

As the debate over immigration heats up on the national stage, it’s also been in the spotlight on the state level, with increased coverage of ICE raids, airport protests, and renewed debate about Oregon’s status as a sanctuary state. We checked in with Oregon’s voters about a topic Congress has long skirted: what to do about undocumented immigrants and their families who currently live in the United States? See below for what our state thinks should be done!

As always, you can find us on Twitter and continue the conversation @DHMResearch!

All Things Equal? Oregonians Skeptical Our Economy is Fair.
Posted on: November 13th, 2017 by dhm-research

While many have celebrated the recovery from the Great Recession, some have called attention to how the rewards of our growing economy—and our economic system more broadly—are distributed. While worries about personal finances have lessened over the past decade, Oregonians still have broad concerns about the economy: they doubt the impact of hard work on success, say the country’s economy is unfair, and critique inequality in Oregon and across the United States. Read on for all the details!

As always, you can find us on Twitter and continue the conversation @DHMResearch!

Get Oregon-ized: Civic Engagement and Social Capital in the Beaver State
Posted on: October 9th, 2017 by dhm-research

Even in this hyper-politicized age, there’s little indication that Oregonians are ready to retreat from public life. They have high expectations for how much they can make a difference in their community, and they’re willing to put in the work to make it happen. That said, not everyone feels they can have an impact—and the question of who you know may be hurting some Oregonians’ chance to make the changes they want to see. Read on for the full scoop from September’s DHM Panel!

As always, you can find us on Twitter and continue the conversation @DHMResearch!

Like a House on Fire: Oregonians Feel the Heat of the Real Estate Market
Posted on: September 13th, 2017 by dhm-research

With housing prices surging across the state, Oregonians are feeling the effects of a booming market. They have high hopes and dreams about the security a home can bring, but many don’t feel they have access to this security. Along with rising costs comes a rising perception that ordinary Oregonians can’t afford a set of house keys anymore—and perhaps can’t afford a place at the table in a growing Oregon economy.

Back in the June edition of our DHM Panel we asked Oregonians how they view the housing market and their place in it. Read on below for the complete findings!

As always, you can find us on Twitter and continue the conversation @DHMresearch!

Work in Progress: Oregonians Like their Jobs, But Some Feel Stuck
Posted on: August 25th, 2017 by dhm-research

With Labor Day around the corner, we wanted to get a read on how Oregonians feel about their work, their workplace, and their position in the economy. The good news: workers in Oregon are overwhelmingly happy in their jobs—-no surprise, given that the state’s economy continues to boom. However, this general positivity shouldn’t mask pockets of dissatisfaction. Discrimination on the basis of gender, race, or age affects a substantial minority of the population, and many people with lower incomes and in rural areas don’t feel it’s possible to move up in this economy.

Read on below for more findings from our August DHM Panel!

As always, you can find us on Twitter and continue the conversation @DHMresearch!

Getting Our Priorities Straight: Education and Equity in Oregon
Posted on: August 9th, 2017 by dhm-research

As Oregon’s students become more diverse, with a wide range of lived experiences and different racial and ethnic backgrounds, Oregon’s schools are learning to adapt to address those diverse needs. Currently, the Oregon Department of Education’s equity initiatives are aimed at addressing the gaps within education quality for all students. Oregonians are mostly in agreement with this approach and what schools’ priorities should generally be. However, they are divided by ideology on where achievement gaps exist, how they should be addressed, and even some core values of our education system.



State Tax Structure: One Thing Oregonians Would Happily Welcome From California
Posted on: March 16th, 2017 by dhm-research

As legislators in Salem consider reforming Oregon’s tax system to account for a significant budget shortfall, we asked DHM panelists about the values they associate with taxation. As with most things tax-related, it turns out there are some gripes, grumbles, and sour grapes. In a blind test pitting Oregon’s system against California’s and Washington’s, less than one in ten prefer our current system. Charting a path to tax reform is a high-wire balancing act, one easily derailed by partisan bickering. Perhaps there’s some bittersweet solace to be found in a source of unanimous agreement across all Oregonians, that the middle class and small businesses are getting the short end of the stick.

Read on for more!

As always, you can find us on Twitter and continue the conversation @DHMresearch!

Seeing is Believing: Oregonians Desire Transparency and Accountability
Posted on: February 7th, 2017 by dhm-research


The past year has brought a long-simmering trend in politics onto center stage: increasing polarization and partisanship. For the past few years, DHM Research has monitored an ever-widening divide in perceptions and priorities between Oregon’s Democrats and Republicans. At the same time, the proportion of Oregonians who are not members of either major party continues to grow.

In this political landscape, is there any room for compromise and consensus? Read on below for findings from our first DHM Panel of the year to find out!

Your wishlist for 2017: Oregon’s take on America’s real problems
Posted on: January 11th, 2017 by dhm-research

As a very long year wound to a close, we gave our panel of Oregonians a break from decking the halls and mourning their favorite pop culture figures by sending out a DHM Panel survey. This month’s focus was Oregonians’ biggest pet peeves and policy wishes: the fascinating, arcane, subtle-yet-important, and just-plain-bizarre societal changes you dearly wish to see enacted—or at the very least asked about in a DHM Panel survey.

Oregonians See Value in Banks Working With Legal Marijuana Businesses
Posted on: December 8th, 2016 by dhm-research

The legal cannabis industry is projected to top $7 billion in national sales this year—that was before voters in eight additional states tallied their support for legalized recreational or medical marijuana on November 8, 2016. Including Oregon, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana, while 29 have done so for medical use. Despite growing support for legalization and the industry’s robust economic growth in states permitting recreational use, only a small percentage of banks and credit unions currently accept deposits or provide banking services to marijuana-related businesses.

To better understand how the public views this dynamic, DHM Research and banking industry experts LT Public Relations partnered on groundbreaking research using Oregon—our own backyard—as a case study. The state legalized recreational marijuana on July 1, 2015, and as our study showed, Oregonians aren’t shy about their use: 26% said they had used a marijuana product in the last 30 days. Additionally, Governor Kate Brown has signed a bill that removed any state criminal liability from banks and credit unions that choose to do business with legal marijuana businesses.

From November 10 to 17, 2016, we surveyed nearly 800 Oregon residents regarding their opinions of the marijuana industry, financial institutions, and how collaboration between the two would shift their perceptions. Asked if their impression of their financial institution would change if it held deposits and made loans to various industries, Oregonians indicated that they see a partnership between financial institutions and legal marijuana-related businesses as desirable. Nearly nine in ten (87%) said that offering financial services to the legal marijuana industry would either not alter or improve their impressions of their financial institution.

For further analysis, please download our white paper or press release about the findings of the survey. You can also download the above infographic here. Please direct all media requests to eszamborski@dhmresearch.com.

As always, you can find us and continue the conversation @DHMresearch!


About DHM Research

DHM Research is a non-partisan and independent public opinion and policy research firm with offices in Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. The firm has been providing opinion research and consultation throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the United States for over three decades. DHM Research is a certified woman-owned minority business.

About LT Public Relations

LT Public Relations is a comprehensive communications firm based in Portland, Oregon. The firm partners with clients across the United States to deliver individualized communications strategies and relevant, results-oriented public relations initiatives. More information is available at www.ltpublicrelations.com.

Oregonians Agree: This Election Was Awful
Posted on: November 8th, 2016 by dhm-research

In the October 2016 DHM Panel, we asked Oregonians how they felt about the impending election. Everyone agreed on at least one thing: this election season was terrible. But as for why and what comes next? Oregonians are still divided.



Oregon Votes: DHM & Fox 12 Election Poll
Posted on: November 1st, 2016 by dhm-research

With one week to go before the 2016 election, DHM partnered with FOX 12 (KPTV) for a final read of Oregonians’ views on several major races.

From October 25 to 29, 2016, DHM conducted a telephone survey of 504 voters. The survey polled voters’ choices for president, governor, and secretary of state, as well as support for Measure 97.

See below for our results and methodology. As always, we’re happy to answer questions on Twitter @DHMResearch.

DHM & FOX 12 2016 Election Poll Annotated Questionnaire & Methodology

DHM & FOX 12 2016 Election Poll Cross Tabs



Election Polling: Women Lead the Way, Secretary of State and Measure 97 Up In Air
Posted on: October 18th, 2016 by dhm-research

With our partner, Oregon Public Broadcasting, we recently fielded a telephone survey of 600 registered voters across the state to assess opinions as we head towards November 8th. Topics included impressions of elected officials and candidates for office, and support for a variety of ballot measures in Oregon. See below for our full take!

For good measure, here’s a download of the above memo.


In Sickness and in Health Reform
Posted on: October 4th, 2016 by dhm-research

In the September 2016 DHM Panel, we asked Oregonians about their perceptions of healthcare, including the Affordable Care Act. The results indicate that Oregonians have mixed feelings about the Affordable Care Act, but desire additional changes to our healthcare system.


Back to School: Oregon’s Priorities for Public Education
Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by dhm-research

As Oregon heads back to school, we asked our DHM Panel about their perceptions and priorities for public education. The survey was conducted from August 11-17, 2016, and included 598 Oregonians. Results were weighted by age, gender, area of the state, political party, and level of education to ensure a representative sample. The margin of error for this survey ranges from +/-3.7% to +/-4.1%.

Some clear takeaways emerged when it comes to Oregonians’ priorities about public education. Their back-to-school wish list might read something like this: focus on K-12, educate beyond workplace preparedness, and reduce class sizes. See below for full analysis.

We also asked questions about community college. Our results suggest that Oregonians view community colleges favorably, see them as providing a unique and important role in preparing young people for the workplace, and desire more funding for these institutions. Read on for more!

Keep your eyes peeled on Twitter for more results from our “Back to School” edition of our DHM Panel. We’re also happy to answer any questions you may have — find us @DHMResearch!



Our Past, Present and Future: Time for Oregon to Come Together?
Posted on: August 22nd, 2016 by dhm-research

For the July edition of the DHM Panel, we sought to get a better understanding of how Oregonians view our past, present, and future. Our online panel regularly provides Northwest residents with the opportunity to weigh in on issues that affect their state, community, and daily lives.

Our findings indicate that Oregonians remain divided — some things are timeless — by political affiliation, geography, education and age. Read on below for the full take!

We’re always happy to answer questions on Twitter — find us @DHMResearch!

To download the above document click here: July 2016 Panel

Full results for the survey can be found here: DHM Panel Survey — Blogpost — Annot — July 2016

The State of Housing in Oregon
Posted on: June 28th, 2016 by dhm-research


In October 2015 the City of Portland declared a state of emergency on housing. Portland is not alone, as Los Angeles, Seattle, and the state of Hawaii have also declared states of emergencies in response to shifts in the housing market and rising homelessness in their communities. While Oregon has yet to take such an action statewide, housing and homelessness are raising to become top priorities for voters. Community groups and elected leaders are debating solutions for the difficulties facing our communities, and housing and homelessness are likely to be a focus of the elections this fall. The following data offer a glimpse into where Oregonians stand today on the issues of housing and homelessness in the state, and what they think should be done.



DHM Research conducted an online survey of 687 Oregon residents participating in our DHM Panel. The survey was conducted in May 2016. It asked Oregonians about their opinions on the current state of housing and homelessness across the state, and presented participants with a series of potential policies that could be enacted. Demographic information, including current housing situation, was collected to assess if perceptions of housing and homelessness differed by sub-group categories.


Key Findings

While Oregonians are in overwhelming agreement that the state is currently in a housing crisis, there is less clarity as to preferred solutions, or if solutions are needed. Most view the crisis as a result of increased demand for housing, as opposed to laying blame on government. When it comes to what should be done, Oregonians are split as to who should be tasked with leading the charge on affordable housing or what kinds of solutions they prefer.

  • Some 83% agree that Oregon is in the midst of a housing crisis, with 44% strongly agreeing. Strong majorities holding this stance were observed across all demographics, with the lowest agreement rating at 74% for Republicans, as compared to 89% of Democrats.
  • When asked what they thought the primary cause of rising housing costs was, 37% of Oregonians said that “the market is responding to an increase in population and desirability” and an additional 26% blamed people with higher incomes moving to Oregon. This suggests that most ascribe the increase to demand-side economics. Almost half (46%) of those outside of the Willamette Valley and Tri-County areas placed blame on those moving to Oregon.
  • No consensus emerged as to who Oregonians think should be most responsible for addressing affordable housing needs generally, or which government entity should be responsible for building and administering subsidized housing across the state. Strong pluralities of non-affiliated voters/independents (46%) and Republicans (44%) believe that the market will correct itself, as compared to just 7% of Democrats.
  • Investing in community land trusts, changing zoning to allow greater density and mixing of commercial and residential spaces, and relaxing restrictions and fees on ADUs were the preferred policies to improve the supply and affordability of housing.
  • In terms of curbing rapidly rising rents, Oregonians responded most positively to rent control (“Improve a lot” or “somewhat”: 72%), inclusionary zoning (67%) and creating a local funding source for rental assistance (63%).

While there is overall consensus that the state is in a housing crisis, perceptions differed based on the degree to which participants were personally affected by the crisis. Renters, those spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing expenses, and Oregonians making less than $25K annually stood out through the survey.

  • Some 22% of Oregonians say that if an emergency were to arise that would cost them $1,000, they would be unable to pay for both the costs incurred by the emergency and their housing costs. Oregonians making less than $25K annually were notably vulnerable, with 63% saying they would not be able to pay for the emergency and their rent or mortgage. Almost half (49%) of cost-burdened Oregonians said they would not be able to pay, as compared to just 9% of those who met HUD’s definition of an affordable housing situation. Four in ten (40%) renters were also at risk, in comparison to just 18% of homeowners.
  • Renters (72%) and those with incomes under $25K (69%) were the most likely of all subgroups tested to disagree with the claim that rising housing prices were a sign of economic growth, and good for the state.
  • Renters in Oregon were more likely to believe that the number of those experiencing homelessness is directly related to the cost of housing and should be mitigated with housing policies (49%) than to view housing and homelessness as separate issues (47%).

As a whole, Oregonians view housing and homelessness as separate issues. While they recognize that rising housing costs have impacted homelessness and that homelessness has increased over the past few months, they still believe that solutions focusing on short-term shelters, mental health, and addiction services would be most effective.

  • An overwhelming majority (68%) believe that the number of people experiencing homelessness in the state has increased in the last six months.
  • Some 68% agreed that homelessness should be viewed and treated as its own separate issue, as compared to 28% who believe that homelessness and housing costs are intertwined, and that housing based solutions would be most effective.
  • Consistent with this, participants identified unemployment (36%), poverty (32%) and personal choice (32%) as one of the three main causes of homelessness more often than they did so for a lack of affordable housing (22%).
  • Participants were asked which of four housing initiatives in response to homelessness would be the most effective policy: 42% said that focusing on emergency shelters and transitional facilities would be the most effective. Policies focusing on providing assistance for those at risk of losing their homes (18%), increasing the stock of affordable housing (17%), or offering rental assistance to those currently experiencing homelessness (13%) were favored by fewer Oregonians.

Please find the complete survey DHM Panel Survey — Housing — annot — May 2016.

DHM Vice President joins Washington Transportation Fraternity
Posted on: June 8th, 2016 by dhm-research

DHM Research Vice President and National Director, Sarah Fulton, recently joined the “Road Gang,” one of Washington DC’s premier transportation fraternities.

“Given that transportation is a significant practice area at DHM, our participation in the Road Gang most certainly will prove to be both valuable and informative,” DHM Vice President Sarah Fulton noted.

In 1942 when the Road Gang was organized, there were only 25 participating members who met for regular meetings at the Willard Hotel. Soon after its inception, however, an increasing number of local highway transportation executives learned about the fraternity and began attending the luncheon meetings that the Road Gang hosts every other Thursday. The Road Gang has increased steadily in size, and its membership showcases a variety of transportation professionals. It continues to preserve its informal “off-the-record” atmosphere, and its programs have touched on practically every facet of highway transportation activity. The organization currently has a membership of approximately 300 individuals including business and government executives, highway engineers and consultants, press and public relations specialists, company representatives, members of Congress, and trade association officials from the highway transportation industry.

What really adds to the dynamism of the Road Gang is its mixture of camaraderie and formal tradition. One of the important facets of the Road Gang continues to be its lively bi-monthly luncheon addresses on current highway and transportation issues, particularly when legislative matters are pending.

Inquiries to: Sarah Fulton at 202.756.7435

Why It’s Getting Harder to Learn What the Public Thinks
Posted on: May 18th, 2016 by dhm-research
Public officials need to understand how opinion research is evolving to meet modern challenges.

BY | APRIL 25, 2016

Opinion research has helped government with planning and policymaking for decades. But the shifting technological landscape, along with changing demographics and lifestyles, are challenging conventional opinion-research techniques, making it more difficult to learn what the public thinks. Government officials need to become aware of these changes and their impacts on research methodologies, validity, statistical relatability, cost and project timelines.

Telephone polling has long provided public officials with valuable information. Phone surveys have asked voters about ballot measures for road-maintenance funding; state or city residents about affordable-housing options; neighborhood residents about higher-density development; and business leaders about the importance of promoting international trade. Focus groups and other forms of qualitative research have supported survey questionnaire development and helped to elaborate survey findings.

All of this is changing. The biggest change? Well, what do you do when your phone rings? More and more, people look at the number and if they don’t recognize it, they don’t answer. Or if they do answer, they get off the line as quickly as possible — often without waiting to find out what the survey is really about. A growing refusal to participate in surveys is the single biggest development the opinion-research industry is dealing with. The upshot is that many more phone numbers are needed to complete a valid, statistically reliable survey — so many more that completing a survey with a representative sample of residents is impossible in many communities. There just aren’t enough numbers to call.

And when people do answer the phone and agree to participate in a survey, it’s more difficult to keep them on the line as long as in the past. Our era of sound bites and 140-character tweets makes it hard to complete the lengthy questionnaires that government officials are used to fielding in their efforts to gather in-depth information.

The rise of the cellphone represents a third cultural shift. More than four in 10 Americans rely on cellphones alone with no residential landline, and the rate is even higher among young adults and some communities of color. This change has made survey research more expensive. Federal regulations require that cellphone numbers be dialed manually, as opposed to using the auto-dialers that reach landline numbers. Interviewers also must screen respondents to ensure they are in a safe place, and catch them when they are available to talk for possibly an extended period about potentially sensitive topics that require privacy.

Partly in response to these challenges, researchers have begun using professionally recruited and maintained panels for regular online surveys. The best of these consist of people of all different demographics and lifestyles, recruited through different means. Participants receive some form of compensation, similar to the honorariums offered to focus-group participants.

Long disdained by academics and telephone-survey purists, these panels nevertheless are becoming increasingly common. And done well — using demographic quotas and statistical weighting to assure representative samples — online panels should be accepted as a legitimate sample source for public-sector surveys. In fact, they offer certain advantages over telephone surveys, including the ability to display visuals, such as pictures and maps; to collect verbatim responses to open-ended questions, yielding more valid content analysis; and to use tradeoff techniques — pressing respondents to choose between key variables — that are not possible with telephone-surveys. They are also less expensive.

The evolution of new approaches and blending conventional and new methodologies to adapt to and take advantage of social and technological change is good news for government officials. Knowing what the public thinks about what government is doing — and is thinking about doing — is as important as ever.


This article originally appeared in Governing magazine. You can see the original article here.

Oregon Votes: DHM’s Latest Primary Polling
Posted on: May 12th, 2016 by dhm-research

As Oregonians fill out their ballots and lick their stamps in anticipation of primary day, we set out to see where our community stands on the upcoming national, state, and local elections. If you haven’t already, cast your vote by May 17th!

From May 6 – 9, 2016, we fielded a pair of telephone surveys in Oregon. The first, conducted in partnership with Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) and Fox12 (KPTV), asked 901 registered voters statewide how they expected to vote in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, a potential general election matchup, and other key races. The second poll, in partnership with OPB, measured 402 Portland voters’ support for candidates for Portland Mayor, City Commissioner (Position 4), and the fuel tax ballot measure.

Our results suggest that Oregon’s primary may be just as much of a rollercoaster as the rest of the 2016 election cycle. See below for summaries of our methodology and results for each survey. As always, we’re happy to answer questions on Twitter: @DHMResearch.

OPB_Fox12 Oregon Primary Election Survey Memo — May 2016

OPB Portland Primary Election Survey Memo — May 2016


April DHM Panel: The Trade-offs of Foreign Trade
Posted on: May 3rd, 2016 by dhm-research

For the April edition of our DHM Panel, we dug into a topic that has been a lightning rod for presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle this year: foreign trade. For those unfamiliar, our online panel provides Northwest residents with the opportunity to weigh in on issues that affect their state, community, and daily lives.

From April 6–10, we surveyed over 600 Oregonians about their opinions of foreign trade and its impacts at home and abroad. Considering recent debates about the impacts of trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the legacy of NAFTA, we decided to go right to the source to see what Oregonians think.

The story isn’t a simple one. Oregonians feel that foreign trade can be an opportunity for the U.S. economy—but they’re less sure that our trade policy over the past few decades has been good for Americans or for the world. Read on below to see if you agree, then weigh in on Twitter! We’re happy to chat: @DHMResearch.

The full questionnaire and results for this survey can be viewed at the following link:

DHM Panel Survey — April 2016

February DHM Panel: “And How Does That Make You Feel, Oregon?”
Posted on: March 15th, 2016 by dhm-research

For our most recent DHM Panel survey, we tried something a little different. For those unfamiliar, our panel provides Northwest residents with the opportunity to weigh in on issues that affect their state, community, and daily lives.

Those who took our February survey (almost 600 Oregonians) were asked a series of questions designed to measure their attitudes and feelings towards life: Overall, how happy are you? How fearful? How angry? How sad? The questions touched on personal and political topics.

Based on their answers to these questions, each panelist received four scores, corresponding to their general level of happiness, fearfulness, anger, and sadness. Recent psychology research suggests that these four “basic” emotions form the building blocks of all human moods and passions.

We’ve used these four scores to try to gain a better understanding of how Oregonians think about politics and their daily lives. How do our emotions play into our political opinions? What makes us angry? What makes us most afraid for our future? Find out below!

The full questionnaire and results for this survey can be viewed at the following link:

DHM Panel Survey — February 2016

Slim Majority of Oregonians Would Likely Vote for $15 Minimum Wage if Election Were Held Today
Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by dhm-research

According to our most recent DHM Panel survey, a slim majority (51%) of Oregonians would likely support a $15 minimum wage measure if an election were held today.

Our survey polled 624 Oregonians who indicated they were registered to vote. These voters were provided with the ballot title and “yes” and “no” result statements for a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by January 1, 2019. The title and result statements have been certified by the Attorney General and may appear on the November 2016 ballot.

Voters were then asked a follow-up question about a $13.50 minimum wage measure. At this time, a $13.50 minimum wage measure has been filed with the Secretary of State, but the ballot language has not yet been certified.

It is important to note that the election is still a year away, and the petitioners of each minimum wage proposal will need to collect over 88,000 signatures from registered voters if the measures are to appear on the ballot. If that occurs, the campaigns for and against the measure are sure to have an effect on public opinion.

Chart 1, below, shows how voters said they would vote on the $15 minimum wage proposal if the election were held today.




Chart 2, below, illustrates the different levels of support for this measure based on demographics.



Oregon’s youngest voters, those ages 18-29, were most likely to support (either “certain to vote yes” or “leaning toward voting yes”) the measure, at 70%. Some 43% of voters ages 30-44 support the measure, along with 44% of voters ages 45-54 and 58% of voters 55 and older.

In Multnomah County, 69% of voters indicated support for the measure, compared to 57% of the Tri-County area, 53% of Willamette Valley voters, and 40% of voters in other parts of the state.

Nearly eight in 10 registered Democrats (79%) said they supported the measure as compared to 16% of registered Republicans.

Next, voters were asked how they would vote if an election were held today that included both a $15 per hour and $13.50 per hour minimum wage proposal on the same ballot. Chart 3, below, those results.




DHM previously asked Oregonians questions about the minimum wage in April 2015, in a survey done in partnership with OPB. When asked in an open-ended format what Oregon’s minimum wage should be, most Oregonians picked a number under $15 per hour.



Oregon law doesn’t currently allow local governments to set a minimum wage higher than the state rate. In the same April survey as above, DHM also asked Oregonians whether local governments should be able to set a higher minimum wage. At that time, 44% of Oregonians said they would support giving local governments this option, while 47% said they opposed it.




You can read more about the results of our April survey on OPB here.

Adam Davis: Get Ready for Election Show Business
Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—August 20th, 2015
Portland Tribune

Did the Oregon Legislature meet this year? Many Oregonians would say, “I think so, but I’m not sure.”

They’ve been taking place, those meetings conducted by political party operatives and big donors to assess how things went in Salem this year and to decide what to do to get more Democrats or Republicans elected in Oregon. Maybe the rooms aren’t as smoke-filled as they once were, but make no mistake about it, the meetings are taking place, the checks are being written, the candidate recruitment is underway, the voter data bases are being massaged, and the candidate talking points are being developed and refined.

Come the day after Labor Day, all hell breaks loose for 2016. It’s show business, the kind of show business Lou Rawls sang about, “Oh you have a hard way to go; you got a lot of dues to pay, baby.”

Let’s pull up a chair and join one of these meetings. What does recent opinion research by DHM Research tell us about Oregon voters that may be of interest to campaign strategists and donors preparing for show business?

Looking back first, our research reveals that a striking number of voters are oblivious to the fact that there even was a 2015 legislative session. While a majority of Oregon voters are sure there was a session, 42 percent are not so sure or don’t know. Young voters are the most likely to believe there was not a session.

And how do Oregon voters feel about the session, even if they don’t know there was one? Less than a third (28 percent) believe that the Legislature was able to come together to accomplish a great deal. A plurality (39 percent) say the Legislature was bogged down by partisan differences and did not accomplish very much. And another third (32 percent) aren’t sure.

Republicans are two times more likely than Democrats to feel that the Legislature did not accomplish much, 54 percent to 27 percent. Non-affiliated/others split the difference at 40 percent. Additionally, many Oregon voters believe the Legislature did not address the most important issue they wanted it to do something about. Overall, not a glowing review.

“2015, that’s old news; the train has left the station. What can you tell us to help with 2016?” asks the campaign strategist at the table. Not so fast on 2015. What about the most important issues that Oregon voters feel the Legislature did not do something about? Wouldn’t that be valuable to know going into 2016? We’d hope so.

For Oregon voters, at the top of the list is the economy (code for “secure family-wage jobs”) followed closely by education and reducing government spending. There is no one issue that a majority of Oregon voters say is most important. Rather it is these three, and if you combine tax reform and reducing government spending into a public finance category, you’d have a statistical dead heat: public finance (26 percent), jobs and the economy (24 percent), and education (23 percent).

It isn’t news that the Republicans are more likely to say reducing government spending and Democrats are more likely to say education, but what may be helpful to know is which issues are in second and third places for the two political parties and how non-affiliated/others, who will be determinative in the elections next year, feel about these important issues.

For Republicans, it really comes down to just two issues: reducing government spending at 41 percent and the economy at 27 percent. Education comes in at a distant 10 percent, just ahead of the environment and transportation. It’s also a two-issue show for Democrats with education at 32 percent and the economy at 24 percent. In third place is the environment at 12 percent.

The non-affiliated/others are more divided with education at 27 percent, followed the economy at 21 percent and government spending at 18 percent.

In addition to knowing the most important issues, a candidate would be wise to know what voters value about living in their communities. Consistently since 1992 when DHM Research conducted the first Oregon Values and Beliefs Study, we’ve heard five things: natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, environmental quality, sense of community, and the climate. But what do they value the most?

For Republicans it is the sense of community at 43 percent, way ahead of natural beauty at 27 percent. Democrats are split between the same two qualities with both natural beauty and sense of community at 29 percent. Non-affiliated/others feel natural beauty is most important at 34 percent followed by sense of community at 27 percent.

And finally we’d tell them, you need to do focus groups to learn why people feel a particular issue is most important and how they feel about different public policy options related to that issue. The same suggestion goes for what they value about living in their community.

It’s all part of getting ready for show business.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal in DHM Research, an independent, nonpartisan firm. Visit: dhmresearch.com

Adam Davis: Voters support fixing campaign finance potholes
Posted on: July 6th, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—July 2, 2015
Portland Tribune

You think they would want to start filling the potholes. “They” being the Oregon Legislature, and the “potholes” being the gaps in trust Oregonians have for their state government, not in our roads and highways. Sorry gas tax advocates, this isn’t about you. This is about campaign finance reform.

Not surprising, Oregonians are not giving high marks to their state officials these days, and voters are increasingly feeling that state government is in need of a major repaving job. A majority of Oregonians either have an unfavorable or neutral opinion about the state Legislature and the number feeling “very favorable” is in single digits.

In a recently conducted statewide survey, when asked about their satisfaction with the attention the Oregon Legislature is giving to the important issues we’re facing today, 17 percent of voters were very dissatisfied compared to 7 percent who were very satisfied.

The rest were divided in their assessment. And in focus groups, we hear voters say the Legislature is wasteful and inefficient and not to be trusted to make good decisions.

Underlying these attitudes about the Oregon Legislature are a number of things including a lack of knowledge about what is going on in Salem and the transference of feelings about Washington, D.C., to Salem. But the bottom line is that Oregonians have either negative or neutral feelings (more “I don’t really care”) about the Legislature.

So, wouldn’t you think the Legislature might want to do something about it, like making it constitutionally possible to limit political campaign contributions, which a strong majority of Oregonians support? In a recent statewide survey, 63 percent of Oregon voters said they would vote for, or lean toward voting for, a measure that would amend the Oregon constitution to allow limits on campaign contributions by individuals and organizations.

Oregon is one of six states in the nation that has no limit on political campaign contributions.

It’s not that Oregonians have not made their feelings known. In 1994 and again in 2006 with Measure 47, Oregon voters endorsed campaign limits.

However, Oregon courts have ruled that limiting contributions will require an Oregon constitutional amendment.

A bill to rein-in unlimited campaign contributions (SJR5) was sent to the Legislature by Secretary of State Kate Brown before she became governor. Intended as a very basic referral to the voters, SJR 5 simply authorizes constitutional permission to the Legislature or the electorate to set campaign contribution limits. It doesn’t set limits, just allows them to be set via statutory law.

Key legislators, fearful that the public might set limits too low or fearful that any actual limitation won’t pass constitutional muster or result in independent (dark money) becoming a more potent element of the equation, have bottled up SJR5.

SJR5 is not a heavy lift. Baby steps, please. Time is running out. Don’t miss this opportunity to do something Oregonians support. Clear the way for those contribution limits to be set and enforced.

Then the Legislature can engage Gov. Brown’s proposal for a 15-member task force to recommend what specific statutory changes should be made to Oregon’s campaign finance system. One thing the task force may want to consider is putting limits on ballot measure campaigns in light of voter sentiment.

Why is all this important? There are two more reasons Oregon voters feel negative about state government and don’t trust their legislators.

One is they feel their vote doesn’t count. They pass measures, like they did in 1994 and 2006 for campaign finance reform, and they’re aren’t enforced. And perhaps the biggest reason for their negativity is the belief that big business and the unions are controlling things in Salem with campaign contributions, and instead of the voters, big donors are shaping our state’s future.

Referring an amendment to voters to allow limits on campaign contributions would send a message to Oregonians that the Legislature is listening and, with their support, wants to do business differently. The action would be good pothole repair and help repave voter trust in state government, something very much needed in light of the economic, environmental and social challenges Oregonians see facing our state.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal in DHM Research, an independent, nonpartisan firm.

Adam Davis: On values, beliefs, it’s still Venus vs. Mars
Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—May 25, 2015
Portland Tribune

Remember “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” the book written by American author and relationship counselor John Gray? Indeed, when it comes to their feelings about many public-policy issues, female Oregonians may indeed be from Venus and males from Mars.

The average temperature on Venus is 864 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a lot hotter than on Mars, where the temperatures near the poles can get down to minus 195 degrees. This pretty well describes what we see in Oregon: Women and men register different temperatures on many issues. Considering the increasing number of women assuming leadership positions in society, it is important to understand these differences, for they may foreshadow a different kind of solar system for Oregon and the nation in the future.

Women and men fall differently on the political spectrum. Women are less likely than men to consider themselves conservatives and to instead be liberal or moderate on issues. In the 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs Survey, 41 percent of men consider themselves conservative on most economic issues, compared to 27 percent of women. A related finding from the same survey shows women are less likely to think that government provides too many services.

Hot issues for women are different than those for men. Women are more likely to say they are worried about their family’s personal financial situation than men, and they’re almost twice as likely to feel very worried. They also are more supportive of increasing the state minimum wage. Women show concern for how the economy grows more so than men. They feel our country would be better off if we all consumed less and agree that protection of the environment should be given priority over economic growth.

Women respond warmly to environmental protection issues. They are more likely to feel that climate change requires us to change our way of life, to support government investment in alternative fuel production, and want to expand public transportation rather than build new roads.

On the other hand, women show cooler reception to the status quo on gun control and the penal system. Gun control was a topic in a recently completed statewide survey for Oregon Public Broadcasting and a majority of women (55 percent) favor a law that would ban the sale and possession of assault weapons, compared to 44 percent of men. Women also are more likely to think that criminals should be rehabilitated rather than locked up.

Two more important issues for women are health care and inequality. More women than men support publicly funded health insurance, government cost controls for essential health care services, and having a health care system that rewards healthy behaviors and wellness. They also are more likely than men to feel — and feel strongly — that discrimination against minorities is still a serious problem in our nation and that there’s a need to dramatically reduce the inequalities.

There you have it, women from Venus, men from Mars. Should we be surprised? Not really. Historically, women care about and prioritize issues differently than men. Women are increasingly in position to leverage their concerns to effect change, however. More women than men are graduating from college every year, where they outperform their male counterparts. In addition, women also are healthier, more civically engaged, and have higher job satisfaction. All these characteristics are important components of leadership.

I got a glimpse of this while attending the Portland Business Journal’s Women of Influence Awards banquet earlier this month. The few males in attendance could not help but be impressed with the smarts, personality and achievements of this year’s award recipients and the hundreds of other women in attendance. I’d add that many of the guys present at the event also had to feel hopeful. Before us was the future leadership of our community and the state in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. May the force be with them.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal at DHM Research.

Su Midghall–2015 Women of Influence Orchid Award Winner
Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by dhm-research

EO award

Adam Davis: Oregon has tough love for the environment
Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—February 26, 2015
Portland Tribune

When it comes to our state’s future, we Oregonians often are divided (sometimes deeply) on such things as what the role of government should be, how much to tax ourselves, and what to spend the money on. There is one thing, however, that unites us: our love for Oregon’s natural beauty and its air and water. In other words, the environment.

In a 2014 scientifically conducted public opinion survey of more than 1,000 Oregonians, consensus about the importance of the environment stood out. When asked to identify what they value most about living in the state, respondents specified such things as the coast, the Columbia Gorge, the desert, the mountains, and our rivers, streams and lakes. Also mentioned were our farms and forestland, fresh air, and clean water. More general references were made to Oregon’s beauty, its scenery, nature, and wildlife.

Oregonians also value outdoor recreational opportunities — both the variety of those opportunities and their proximity. In focus groups we learn the reason why: You get to do them in a quality environment.

All these dimensions of the environment are important to Oregonians and are what they value about living in the state. We have to go way down the list to find any reference to something not directly or indirectly related to the environment. In fact, the first item not connected to the environment or to Oregon’s neighborliness or friendliness is — drum roll — no sales tax. Not having to pump your own gas also is mentioned, but such things as jobs and economic opportunity, our schools … nope. It may seem counterintuitive, but our top values do not necessarily align with our top concerns.

Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent; liberal, conservative or moderate; urban, suburban or rural; you’re likely to greatly value Oregon’s environment. Furthermore, you’re telling us in our surveys and focus groups why it is so important to you.

Environmental quality is important to Oregonians for a variety of reasons beyond providing a great setting for outdoor activities. People link it to better health, providing a legacy for future generations and pride in our state. Importantly, Oregonians also connect the environment to one of the top issues they’re concerned about and want their government officials to do something about: jobs and the economy.

We see how Oregonians prioritize the environment in DHM’s research surveys. When asked recently what the better way is for Oregon to promote economic growth, 70 percent chose maintaining a quality environment to attract people and companies to Oregon versus relaxing environmental protection to make it easier for companies to do business (23 percent). Oregonians have felt this way consistently over the years. They answered the same question similarly in both the 1992 and 2002 Oregon Values and Beliefs studies. Again, the value of a quality environment is recognized by a broad cross-section of Oregonians. Well, almost. Note for Republicans: You’re on the side of relaxing protections while a strong majority of Democrats and (listen up) Independents are in the maintaining quality camp.

It is one thing to say you value a quality environment for the different reasons mentioned above, but it is another to say you’re willing to pay more or change your behavior to protect it. Are Oregonians willing to put their money where their mouth is? The answer is yes and no. On the one hand, they have become recyclers, say they’re willing to change their behavior to help combat climate change, and support greater regulation of the coal industry and a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide a big company can emit. Such policies could lead to increased prices for products and services, showing there are times they are willing to step up and take on some burdens to protect the environment. But, on the other hand, they’re opposed to paying a carbon tax of 25 cents a gallon on gasoline and are divided on having higher density in their neighborhoods to prevent urban sprawl.

These research findings should not be a surprise. While Oregonians greatly value environmental quality, a majority also feel that government wastes money and can’t effectively administer programs, they don’t like big business, and they are struggling financially. So, people prefer to keep government out of it, minimize regulations or make the other guy pay, and make it more about monetary incentives and volunteering than about taxes and punishing regulations.

Oregonians also want to understand fully any proposal and hear information from a credible source (a very short list of individuals and organizations these days). Otherwise, in this era of cynicism, skepticism and negativity, any doubt at all is a death sentence for most tax or regulation proposals, even ones related to the environment. Lack of information irks Oregonians.

For example, we found that quantifying (how many more units) and qualifying (what kind of units will they be and what will they look like) greatly affects support levels for a proposal to have higher density in a neighborhood. How ideas are framed matters also. Instead of “preventing urban sprawl,” how about calling it “protection of farm and forestland?”

We love environmental quality in Oregon, but considering the bigger public opinion climate these days, it is a tough love. But then again, Oregonians are tough. Don’t bet against us when it comes to our state’s environmental quality.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal in DHM Research, an independent, nonpartisan firm. 

Adam Davis: Connect the Dots for True Economic View
Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by dhm-research

Adam Davis—January 20, 2015
Portland Tribune

News anchors and commentators are driving me crazy these days, even more than usual. The latest is how well the economy is doing. You’d think we’re back to the Roaring Twenties with the way they talk about job creation, falling unemployment rates, falling gasoline prices, rising home prices, and new stock market highs.

I even heard that because of how well things are going, and how the future looks even better, that the economy may not be a major issue during the next election cycle. Really? Well, if it isn’t, it should be. Voters have a long list of economic and economy-related concerns that they want their government officials to do something about. This is as true today as it was in 2008 at the beginning of the recession, despite reported signs of improvement.

The rosy picture painted for us by the media in their selective use of government statistics does not match what DHM Research sees and hears — and has been seeing and hearing for years — from surveys and focus groups with Oregonians. Granted, we do hear parroted back to us what the media is chirping about, with a majority of Oregonians thinking the economy is improving, but we also hear about newly-created jobs being part-time, employers not paying benefits, the rising cost of health care and other necessities, and income inequality.

In rural Oregon, the mood is especially grim. We hear about no jobs and generally poor social and economic conditions. Then there’s underemployment, which a strong majority of Oregonians consider to be as serious or more serious a problem than unemployment.

It is no wonder a bad economy is still one of the most important problems Oregonians want their state and local government officials to do something about. But there are other problems as well, which aren’t always presented as economic (because they don’t refer directly to the economy or jobs), but perhaps should be.

From younger Oregonians, we hear about rising tuition costs and student debt. From moms and dads we hear about children moving back home after college because they cannot make it on their own — the boomerang generation. Parents worry that their children will be materially worse off in adulthood than they were.

Many Oregonians worry that their jobs might be eliminated because of technology, outsourcing, or through a merger or consolidation, and they ask themselves, “What would I do?” Expressed fears include bankruptcy, age discrimination, and not having the skills to compete in the job market.

Another source of insecurity is feeling financially unprepared for retirement. For members of the “sandwich generation,” the anxieties are magnified when having to care for aging parents while at the same time supporting their own children.

And from Oregon businessmen and women, in addition to comments about the challenges of meeting payrolls and making money, we hear about “indirect” economic issues, including failing transportation, water and sewer systems, not being able to find qualified employees, and the impact of climate change on the future of the agriculture and timber industries.

Finally, there are Oregon’s student performance and poverty statistics, which are not good compared with other states. Many Oregonians are aware of the rankings, which fuel their concerns about the current and future health of our economy.

It is all connected. Many of the issues Oregonians are concerned about, or use as indicators of how we’re doing as a state, are connected to the economy. We may not see these relationships until someone helps us connect the dots. But connecting the dots doesn’t usually make for dramatic headlines; rather, it takes good reporting, with the associated investment of money and time. The economy remains the No. 1 issue.

Dear media: Help us connect the dots.

Adam Davis, who has been conducting opinion research in Oregon for more than 35 years, is a founding principal of DHM Research

DHM Panel Survey: Poverty and Income Inequality
Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by dhm-research

In November of 2014, DHM Research conducted a scientific survey of 474 Oregonians using the DHM Panel to gauge their opinions on issues related to poverty and income inequality. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole.

First, respondents were asked to select which of the following statements is most reflective of their general views on poverty:

Capture 3

A majority of respondents (53%) felt that Statement B was more reflective of their personal beliefs about poverty than Statement A (37%). One in ten (10%) were unsure.

Demographic Differences: There was a significant partisan divide. A strong majority of Republicans (74%) selected Statement A vs. 12% of Democrats and 35% of independents. On the other hand, 81% of Democrats selected Statement B vs. 20% of Republicans and 52% of Independents. While men were evenly split on the statements, women were much more likely to agree with Statement B than Statement A (58% vs. 31%).

Next, respondents were provided a list of issues and asked to indicate whether they believed each was a major cause, a minor cause, or not a cause of poverty.

Capture 2

More so than any other response, 66% of respondents selected “too many jobs being part-time or low-wage” as a ‘major cause of poverty.’ The other two responses that were designated ‘major causes of poverty’ by a majority of respondents were “too many single-parent families” and “a shortage of jobs” (both 51%). On the other hand, “too many immigrants” was the only response chosen by a majority of respondents (51%) to be ‘not a cause of poverty.’

Demographic Differences: Again, there were major partisan differences. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to believe that the following were ‘major causes of poverty’: “the welfare system” (70% vs. 12% of Democrats); “too many single-parent families” (63% vs. 39%); “poor people lacking motivation” (56% vs. 16%); “decline in moral values” (54% vs. 13%); “drug abuse” (50% vs. 38%); and “too many immigrants” (49% vs. 9%). In contrast, a majority of Democratic respondents believed that the following were ‘not causes of poverty’: “too many immigrants” (73% vs. 23% of Republicans); “decline in moral values” (67% vs. 14%); and “the welfare system” (57% vs. 8%). Generally, Independents did not tend to agree more frequently with either Democrats or Republicans on these issues, and instead tended to rest in the middle, aligning pretty closely with the overall average.

The margin of error on this survey was +/-4.5%. To join the DHM Panel click here.

Why DHM Will Never Have a Robot Call You
Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by dhm-research

By Paul Gronke, DHM Research

Like everyone, we’re inhaling every snippet of news these days, trying to get a good read about the upcoming election. That’s why this story grabbed our eye: “Hispanic Voters Buck Assumptions: Back GA GOP Candidates.

If true, this would be quite a story. Latino voters are a rapidly growing segment of the electorate.  Latinos tend to be religious and socially conservative but liberal on issues of immigration and other economic issues.  Latino voters were key to both of Obama’s victories, delivering nearly 75% of their votes for the Democratic ticket—15% more than voted for John Kerry in 2004.  Cubans, the one reliably Republican group among Latinos, now show only a tiny Republican advantage over Democrats (47% – 44%).  (Look here to see how Oregon’s Latino electorate compares to Latinos nationwide.)

What’s up in the Peach State?  It turns out, nothing much at all, other than bad survey methodology. SurveyUSA, the firm that conducted the survey, relies on phone calls using the “recorded voice of a professional announcer.”  In other words, robo-calls.

What are the problems with robo-calls?  Robo-calls have a “Republican house effect” as high as four percent. And the surveys are conducted only in English, excluding any respondent who wants to take the poll in Spanish.  The result of all this is that the news story turns out to be based on only 38 Latino respondents!  In short, the story is bunk.

This is why, at DHM, we’ll never have a robot call you.

DHM Research relies on three kinds of survey methods—telephone interviews, internet surveys, and focus groups—and three kinds of samples—random digit dialing (for telephone), randomly selected online surveys, and online panels.  We pay close attention to cutting edge academic research on the use of online panels and internet surveys in particular, to make sure we avoid any kind of “house bias.”

In fact, we’re pleased to report that Nate Silver recently found DHM’s party bias to be zero point zero.


DHM Panel Survey–Oregonians Weigh in on Taxes
Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by dhm-research

By Chris Merkel, DHM Research

Political leaders in Oregon have indicated that they are planning a comprehensive review of Oregon’s tax system in the 2015 legislative session. In an effort to gauge where Oregonians stand on taxes, DHM Research conducted an online survey via the DHM Panel.

As we found out in the 2013 Oregon Values and Belief Survey, Oregonians consider education funding and education quality, followed by the economy and jobs, to be the most important issues they want their state and local government officials to address. That being said, when Oregonians are pushed on the issue of taxation, there seems to be a consensus: Oregonians are ready for tax reform, with 68% of DHM Panel respondents describing tax reform as an urgent (‘very urgent’ and ‘somewhat urgent’) priority in the 2015 legislative session. This sentiment was especially strong amongst residents of the Willamette Valley (87%) vs. those from the Tri-county region (68%) and the rest of the state (47%). What is more, Oregonians prefer a comprehensive approach to tax reform. When asked which combination of property, income and/or additional taxes residents want addressed, a plurality (47%) said that the State Legislature should address income taxes, property taxes, and consider additional taxes (while 29% would prefer that the Legislature only consider income and property taxes).

So what might make Oregonians more likely to support statewide tax reform?

For one thing, 76% of respondents said they would be more likely to support tax reform if it ensured that all properties with similar market values would be taxed at similar levels – a sentiment shared by all major demographic groups. Surprisingly, the possibility of lowering taxes for all property owners only made 52% of respondents more likely to support tax reform. This potential outcome was particularly effective for Republicans, 70% of whom said they would be more likely to support tax reform in the event that it lowered tax rates for all property owners.

There were two things in particular though, that seem to make Oregonians less likely support comprehensive tax reform: reducing funding for government services and schools. Notably, 70% of respondents in this study indicated that any decreases to public school funding would make them less likely (‘somewhat’ or ‘much less’) to support tax reform, including 90% of Democrats. Additionally, when asked how a decrease in funding for local government services, such as police, fire and roads would affect their thinking, 65% of respondents said it would make them less likely to support tax reform.

Ultimately, Oregonians are showing some appetite for tax reform. While interested in maintaining or increasing funding for existing governmental services, Oregon residents also want property taxes to be more consistent, including the assurance that all properties with similar markets values would be taxed at similar levels.

If you’re interested in learning more about tax reform in the upcoming legislative session, check out the League of Oregon Cities Property Tax Reform Guide.

Make sure you’re registered to vote and stay tuned for upcoming DHM Panel surveys, election forecasts, and more!

In total, 447 Oregonians participated in this survey, with the margin of error for each question falling between +/-2.8% and +/-4.6%. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole.


DHM Panel Survey Looks at Impressions of Oregon’s Public Schools
Posted on: July 21st, 2014 by dhm-research

Joe Gladow, DHM Research

Oregonians are not impressed with the job their public schools are doing. That’s what a DHM Panel survey conducted last month revealed when it asked 404 Oregon residents about their opinions of public schools in the state. Opinions are slightly more positive, however, about their own local school district than public schools statewide.

Asked about public schools statewide, just three in 10 (30%) Oregonians said they are doing a “very” good or “somewhat” good job, with only 4% saying they are doing a “very” good job. Conversely, four in 10 (41%) said they are doing a “somewhat” bad or “very” bad job. Two in 10 (23%) said they are doing a neutral job.

Ratings are slightly higher for local school districts. Four in 10 (41%) said their local public school district is doing a “very” good or “somewhat” good job, while three in 10 (32%) said they are doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job. Two in 10 (21%) said they are doing a neutral job.

 Performance Rating of Public School Districts:

public schools

However, Oregonians have a more negative view of their local district than they did two years ago. Asked if their opinion of their local public school district had become more positive, more negative, or stayed about the same from two years ago, one third (33%) of Oregonians said it became more negative, while half (49%) said it stayed about the same. Just 15% had a more positive opinion.

The reasons cited for this increased negativity varied, ranging from limited funding to overcrowded classrooms to poor management. The following quotes provide a taste of participants’ responses:

  • “Funding is low, leading to large class sizes and inadequate support. Key aspects of schools are being cut or reduced, rather than expanded to focus on the needs of average students.”
  • “Teachers are overworked and can’t take the time to focus on needs of the individual students. The school year is too short. Discipline problems are ignored and students trying to learn pay for that.”
  • “As always and for the past few decades, the administrators of our schools have absolutely no clue on how to manage their budget. The results are fatter paychecks for them and superintendents, with teachers and students suffering the consequences.”

Demographic Differences:

Compared to two years ago, younger Oregonians’ opinions have declined more so than older residents: Ages 54 and under were more likely than ages 55+ to have a more negative opinion of their local district from two years ago (41% vs. 18%).

  • Ages 55+ were more likely than younger Oregonians to have the same opinion of their local district (69% vs. 38%).

Overall, Republicans believe that schools are doing a poorer job than Democrats: Republicans were more likely than Democrats and Independents to say that their local public school district is doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job (Rep: 46%, Dem: 23%, Ind: 26%).

  • Republicans and Independents were more likely than Democrats to say that Oregon’s public schools are doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job (Rep: 56%, Ind: 47%, Dem: 23%).

The poll was conducted by DHM Research in June 2014. Survey demographics reflect the Oregon population as a whole. The margin of error was +/-4.9%.

DHM Joins Other Oregon Businesses United Against Discrimination
Posted on: May 13th, 2014 by dhm-research

Our Opinion: To fix streets, city must act, not just talk
Posted on: April 21st, 2014 by dhm-research

By Adam Davis, Co-Founder and Principal of DHM Research

On Thursday, April 3rd, Adam Davis’ op-ed on Portlanders’ priorities for road maintenance appeared in the Portland Tribune. Read the full article below. 

Watersheds and mass transit remain at the top of local government officials’ minds, but such fascinations shouldn’t obscure what Portland residents really care about: the potholes in their streets and lack of sidewalks in their neighborhoods.

Three Southwest Portland community meetings in the next few weeks provide a timely reminder about the importance of setting firm priorities.

The first meeting is a Southwest Watersheds Open House on April 23, which will highlight items such as the Southwest Huber Green Street Project, the Interstate 5 and 26th Avenue Terraced Rain Gardens and the Centennial Oaks project, to name a few.

Another meeting on April 29 focuses on the Southwest Corridor Project — a mass transit study that continues forward despite the recent Tigard vote putting that city on record opposing high-capacity transit.

What’s interesting about these meetings is that while there seems to be no end to the amount of money and attention allocated for planning the Southwest Corridor or ecologically friendly watershed projects, neither of these are particularly high on Portlanders’ wish lists.

Recent surveys have shown Portland residents are vastly more concerned about street maintenance and pedestrian safety than they are about rain gardens and trains.

Which brings us to the third meeting. On April 24, Mayor Charlie Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick and Transportation Bureau Director Leah Treat will talk to residents of Southwest Portland about the best way to fund transportation maintenance, safety and other related needs.

Hales, Novick and Treat are keenly aware that Portland has a plethora of streets in disrepair. The unfortunate reality is that little money is available to address these ever-pressing needs. And while neighboring Washington County took action to find a funding mechanism to address this issue, Portland has been content just talking about it.

Discussions are fine, but this isn’t a matter of finding out what’s important to Portlanders — or at least it shouldn’t be.

In the Transportation System Improvement Priorities survey prepared for the Portland Bureau of Transportation in February, people surveyed consistently highlighted pedestrian safety and general maintenance as their biggest transportation concerns.

In fact, the survey showed that Portlanders deemed safe pedestrian and street crossings as the most critical need. Forty-two percent said it was the most important thing to spend money on now. Thirty-six percent listed street maintenance as the most important.

The 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs Project prepared by DHM Research echoed those conclusions. In that survey, respondents were asked to name the most important issue that local government officials should do something about. The No. 1 answer? Road infrastructure.

Oregonians — and especially Portlanders — have made it quite clear that fixing roads and making them safer for vehicles and pedestrians alike is a top priority.

Every day that the needed maintenance is delayed only contributes to an ever-growing backlog of work to be done. What’s more, the fact that more money is needed to pay for the road improvements shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The time for “what if” and “what do you think” meetings has long since passed. It’s time for the Portland City Council to display leadership, find a solution, and start getting the work done.

There’s an old political adage that says if you want to stay in office, you keep the potholes filled, the streets paved and the sidewalks maintained.

Hales, Novick and Treat should keep that in mind as they consider the extent of Portland’s long-deferred street maintenance.

Posted on: April 8th, 2014 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the April edition of the Oregon Business Magazine, focusing on the City Club of Portland. We can think of no better organization to join to make a “significant civic investment in your community.” DHM Research is a proud research sponsor of the City Club of Portland.

Posted on: February 5th, 2014 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the March edition of the Oregon Business Magazine, focusing on Oregonians’ support for enhanced job training to boost the economy. For more survey findings on what Oregonians support, visit the Oregon Values & Beliefs Project.


Posted on: January 13th, 2014 by dhm-research

Let’s talk about trust! We conducted an interesting DHM Panel survey of 375 Oregonians this month to test levels of trust in organizations: banks, public schools, Congress, and more were thrown into the mix. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole. Read on for a summary of some of the key findings from the survey.

To begin with, we asked participants to rate how much trust they have in a series organizations to act honestly and with high ethical standards: a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little trust. Full demographic breakdown after the chart.

Turns out, we trust our health and education systems here in Oregon! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was rated the highest by Oregonians, with an impressive 66% placing ‘a great deal’ (24%) or ‘quite a lot’ (42%) of trust in this organization. Oregon’s Public Colleges and Universities (50%), Hospitals (49%), and the K-12 Public School System (48%) followed in the next tier.

Oregonians had the least amount of trust in the United States Congress (3%). Local political institutions seem to be trusted a bit more, with 27% of Oregonians placing ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of trust in the Oregon Legislature.

There seems to be a trust divide between the two parties in more ways than one.

  • Republicans were roughly three times more likely than Democrats to place trust in banks (48% vs. 14%), the church or organized religion (75% vs. 26%), the United States military (69% vs. 23%), and the National Security Agency (21% vs. 8%). Additionally, 21% of Republicans trust pharmaceutical companies ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot,’ compared to only 1% of Democrats and 7% of Independents.
  • On the other hand, Democrats were more than twice as likely as Republicans to trust Oregon’s public colleges and universities (64% vs. 31%) and the K-12 public school system (64% vs. 26%). They were also three times as likely to trust the Oregon Legislature (39% vs. 13%), and a whopping eight times as likely to trust Labor Unions (41% vs. 5%).

From January 3-6 of 2014, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 375 Oregonians via the DHM Panel investigating issues involving levels of trust in both individuals and organizations. Survey demographics reflect the Oregon population as a whole. Margin of error: +/-5.1%. Results may add up to 99% or 101% due to rounding. To sign up for the DHM Panel click here

Oregon’s Teens Sound Off on Public Education: Part 2
Posted on: November 6th, 2013 by dhm-research

On Wednesday, DHM Research Associate Ari Wubbold continued the conversation on the Chalkboard Project’s blog site. An excellent article, and even more we’re proud to partner with our friends at the CP, adding to the conversation and working to make our education system the ideal model it should and can be. Read the full article below and make sure to visit Chalkboard’s blog here.

DHM Research is proud to have worked with the Chalkboard Project on the 2013 Oregon Student Survey. This study was an effort to learn what Oregon high school students think about public education in our state. Media coverage of the survey can be found herehere, and here. While my previous blog post focused on the findings from the student engagement portion of the survey, I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on the 200+ students who took part in the scientific random sample portion of the study, specifically those findings that have not yet been covered in the media. The survey sample was reflective of the Oregon high school student population as a whole.

Let’s start with student’s opinions about the kinds of classes that are currently available to them. The trend we observed was, given the opportunity to weigh in, students prefer expanded class offerings.   

  • Roughly two-thirds (63%) of students disagreed with the statement, there are too many classes offered outside of the core areas of reading, writing, and math.
  • Later in the survey, 58% of students said their district places too little emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. This sentiment was higher among males than females (67% vs. 50% said too little).
  • Students who felt that additional funding is needed for public K-12 education were provided the open-ended opportunity to explain why. The second-most popular response was more elective classes (23%).

Also of interest are student’s responses to a series of statements regarding issues outside of the classroom that can impact their educational experience.

  • Roughly nine in ten (88%) students agreed with the statement, having family support for learning at home is essential for students’ success in school.
  • Only three in ten (31%) students said they were interested in volunteering to help improve the state’s K-12 education system. This interest in volunteering jumped to 42% when we asked the question of self-identified student leaders (participated in leadership opportunities such as student government, tutoring, service learning, etc.).
  • Lastly, only 20% of students agreed with the statement, the business community in my district is doing enough to help the public schools. However, roughly half of students (47%) were either neutral (31%) or unsure (16%) on the issue, indicating that their opinions are far from fixed.

Well there you have it: a thin slice of the data from the Chalkboard Project and DHM Research’s recent Oregon Student Survey. If you are interested in reading more about the study I strongly suggest you check out the media stories linked to earlier in this post. We’ve been excited to see the passionate public reaction to this study and we look forward to future surveys of Oregon students!

Posted on: October 24th, 2013 by dhm-research

Ari Wubbold, DHM Research 

From October 11-14 of 2013, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 375 Oregonians via the DHM Panel on issues related to the government shutdown and healthcare. Survey demographics reflect the Oregon population as a whole. The questionnaire was made available in both English and Spanish. Margin of error: +/-5.1%. Results may add up to 99% or 101% due to rounding. Note: this survey was conducted prior to the resolution of the government shutdown on October 17.

Thanks again to all who participated in this survey. To sign up for the DHM Panel and participate in upcoming surveys click here. There are more interesting surveys to come!

US Politics and the Government Shutdown:

    • Following are approval ratings for several individuals and institutions.
      • President Obama: 53% approve vs. 48% disapprove
      • Governor John Kitzhaber: 53% vs. 41%, with 5% unsure
      • Congressional Democrats: 46% vs. 49%, with 5% unsure
      • Congressional Republicans: 28% vs. 68%, with 5% unsure
      • Senator Ted Cruz: 27% vs. 54%, with 19% unsure
      • Representative John Boehner: 24% vs. 69%, with 7% unsure
    • When asked to name who they felt was most responsible for the government shutdown, a majority of Oregonians said Congressional Republicans (52%). Two in ten (20%) said President Obama, while 7% cited Congressional Democrats. An additional 19% said that all groups were equally responsible.
      • Among Independent voters, 47% cited Congressional Republicans, and 18% said President Obama. Interestingly, 29% of Independents said all groups were equally responsible for the government shutdown (10 points higher than Oregonians overall).
    • We asked Oregonians from all political parties to select from among a list of potential Republican candidates for the presidential nomination in 2016 who they would like see on the ticket. Chris Christie led the pack, with 28% of Oregonians selecting him as their preferred choice. No other candidate reached 10%.
      • Christie’s standing was buoyed by Democrats (44%) and Independents (28%), while Republicans were evenly split between a number of candidates, with Paul Ryan earning a slight advantage (15%).


    • When asked about their expectations for healthcare in Oregon over the next couple of years, most Oregonians said they felt that the healthcare that is available to them would get worse (40%) rather than better (23%). One-third (32%) felt it would stay the same.
      • While Democrats and Independents were fairly split on the issue, Republicans were not, with 72% saying they felt the healthcare available to them was likely to get worse.
      • Notably, among Oregonians without health insurance, a majority (56%) said they felt the healthcare available to them was likely to get worse over the next couple years (16 points higher than Oregonians overall).
    • Nearly eight in ten (77%) correctly identified Cover Oregon as the group responsible for running Oregon’s online health insurance marketplace, with the remaining 23% either identifying other groups or claiming to be unsure.
      • Among those ages 18-34, a group thought to contain many low-information voters as well as a significant number of potential enrollees for the healthcare program, 74% correctly identified Cover Oregon.
    • Among Oregonians who said they were eligible to participate in Cover Oregon, 27% said they would do so, while 63% would not. One in ten (9%) were unsure.
      • Non-white Oregonian who said they were eligible to participate in Cover Oregon said they would participate in the program at a higher rate than white Oregonians (45% vs. 27%).
Posted on: September 23rd, 2013 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the August edition of the Oregon Business Magazine, featuring our relationship with Oregon Unlimited!

DHM Panel survey looks at Oregon beer, sports and politics
Posted on: August 29th, 2013 by dhm-research

By Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman, DHM Research

From August 2 -7 of 2013, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 412 Oregonians via the DHM Panel on a variety of hot issues this summer. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole. The margin of error on the survey was +/- 4.8%.

Below is a summary of some of our interesting findings from the survey:

  • Oregon doesn’t have a state beverage, but if it did, Oregonians choose beer (60%) over other likely options like coffee (15%) or wine (18%).
  • Oregonians are more split on their favorite craft beer. Deschutes Brewery in Bend takes the lead at 20% over Widmer Brothers Brewery (11%) and Ninkasi Brewing Company (10%). Surprisingly though, a third (36%) of respondents chose “none of these, I don’t like beer”!
  • A slight majority of Oregonians (54%) feel that they should be allowed to pump their own gas with Republicans leading the charge at 68%, and Democrats evenly split between “yes” and “no” votes at 41% each.
  • Football seems to be a common theme this summer. Most people say that more than soccer (18%) football is Oregon’s pastime (38%) and that the Oregon Ducks football team is most likely to win a national championship this year (58%) as compared to the Portland Timbers (19%) and other Oregon sports teams (6% or less).
  • Just as a reminder that election season is right around the corner, respondents were asked to give their general impression of two possible Republican candidates for Governor: State Representative Dennis Richardson and businessman Allen Alley. Notably, roughly two-thirds of respondents were unfamiliar with both.

Thanks again to all who participated in this survey. To sign up for the DHM Panel and participate in upcoming surveys click here. There are more interesting surveys to come!

Oregon’s Teens Sound Off on Public Education
Posted on: July 25th, 2013 by dhm-research

On Thursday, DHM Research Associate Ari Wubbold continued the conversation on the Chalkboard Project’s blog site. An excellent article, and even more we’re proud to partner with our friends at the CP, adding to the conversation and working to make our education system the ideal model it should and can be. Read the full article below and make sure to visit Chalkboard’s blog here.

DHM Research is proud and excited to be working with the Chalkboard Project on the 2013 Oregon Student Survey. This study is an effort to learn what Oregon high school students think about public education in our state. To date, as part of the non-scientific, student engagement portion of the project, 300 students have shared their thoughts with us. I’d like to take this opportunity to provide a teaser of what we’ve learned so far. Final results, including the results of a scientific random sample survey, will be shared with the public shortly before the start of the coming school year.

  • When comparing the education they have personally received to that provided to all students, respondents were much more satisfied with their own personal education: (83% vs. 49%).
  • When asked about what is expected of students in Oregon schools, 41% of respondents said that expectations were just about right. Notably, respondents were more than four times as likely to believe Oregon public schools expect students to learn too little rather than too much (38% vs. 9%).
  • We then asked students about funding issues in Oregon schools. With scores higher than what we see from traditional voter surveys, 79% said that additional funding is needed for K-12 education.
  • In another divergence from traditional voter surveys, thirty four percent (34%) were unsure whether their local public school district spends money wisely (voters tend to have pretty strong opinions on this point).
  • Students had little doubt when it came to what level of education the state should prioritize its funding for in order to best improve student achievement, with one-half (51%) specifying the high school grades of 9-12. For reference, the next most popular education level for allocating funds was K-5th grade (17%).
  • Lastly, we touched on school safety. Students overwhelmingly felt that their school is safe (86% vs. 6% unsafe). However, seven in ten (69%) agreed that bullying in schools is a serious problem and additional legislation is needed to address it.

Well there you have it! Some very interesting findings from the non-scientific, student engagement portion of the 2013 Oregon Student Survey. Stay tuned for the release of complete results later this summer. I personally can’t wait to see what the scientific survey shows and to dig deeper into the data to see how students’ opinions differ by grade level, gender, ethnicity, and other demographic groups. Special thanks to Sara Nilles of the Oregon Association of Student Councils (OASC) for allowing us to administer the survey to some of the (lucky?) student leaders attending their spring conference.

Posted on: June 4th, 2013 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the upcoming July edition of the Oregon Business Magazine, featuring our successful relationship with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI)!

Posted on: May 15th, 2013 by dhm-research

Check out DHM’s ad in the June Oregon Business Magazine! Take the Oregon Values & Beliefs Survey here.


DHM Senior Associate Testifies on Public Opinion of Marijuana Legalization
Posted on: April 8th, 2013 by dhm-research

April 2, 2013

To: Oregon Legislature, House Judiciary Committee
Fr: John Horvick, DHM Research
Re: Voter Support for Marijuana Legalization

Good afternoon Rep. Barker and members of the Judiciary Committee. My name is John Horvick. I am a Senior Associate at DHM Research. Many of you may know DHM from our more than thirty years of public opinion research in Oregon. We have conducted thousands of studies to measure Oregonians’ attitudes and values on all manners of public policy, from health care, to education, to public safety. Important for this discussion, we are leading experts in the state regarding voter attitudes, and I come to you today with research we have conducted about Oregon voters’ support for marijuana legalization.

Attitudes towards marijuana are quickly evolving. Nationally, researchers from Gallup have been asking Americans whether they support legalization since 1970. In that year, just 12% favored legalization. Over the next decade, support increased to 28% and then held relatively constant for several years. In the late 1990s, public attitudes started to change with more and more people rethinking their opposition. By 2003, 34% supported legalization, in 2009 it increased to 44%, and by 2011 it crossed the 50% mark.

2012 proved to be a pivotal year for marijuana legalization, with citizen initiatives reaching the ballot in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Although Measure 80 did not pass in Oregon, it surprised many observers that it achieved 47% support despite the fact that there was very little campaign spending or voter outreach. There were well funded and organized campaigns in Washington and Colorado, and as you know, those states voters approved legalization with 56% and 55% of vote respectively. Considering that the demographic and political make up of Oregon is similar to Colorado and Washington, if Measure 80 had enjoyed comparable levels of spending as the campaigns in those states it is quite possible that it would have passed here too. As evidence of that, it is worth noting that in September of 2011 polling in Washington showed that support for legalization was just 46%.

Last week DHM Research conducted a survey for New Approach Oregon of 2014 likely voters, measuring where they stand now on marijuana legalization and what they believe is the best way for Oregon to decide this issue.  We found that support for marijuana legalization continues to increase, with now 50% saying they support legalization. It is noteworthy that this is three-percentage points higher than what Measure 80 achieved in a general election with a voter profile that was younger than what we modeled on our sample.

Perhaps the most significant finding in our survey is that voters overwhelming believe that marijuana legalization in Oregon is inevitable. We asked voters which of the following statements was closest to their opinion: Statement A) The way things are going, I am confident that sooner or later marijuana will be legal in Oregon; or Statement B) I seriously doubt marijuana will ever be legal in Oregon. Eighty-one percent (81%) choose Statement A, that they are confident marijuana will be legal in Oregon. As a public opinion researcher this result stands out, and, I believe, sends a strong signal as to where voter attitudes are heading. Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, Oregon voters overwhelmingly believe that it will happen here too, and once they have crossed that point in their minds, the discussion changes from whether to legalize marijuana to what is the most responsible way forward.

To help answer that question, in our survey we asked voters what is the best way for Oregon to consider marijuana legalization. We found that that only about one-third of voters (35%) would prefer that advocates draft an initiative and collect signatures to place it on the ballot. A majority (54%) of voters would rather that you, the Oregon Legislature, take the lead and either pass a bill for the governor’s signature (17%) or refer a measure for voters to consider (36%). Voters understand that legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana is complicated and they are looking to their elected representatives to thoughtfully consider a new approach for Oregon.

Before I close, I’d like to reiterate a few points. Marijuana legalization is a quickly evolving issue. Over the last several decades, we have gone from almost no support for legalization to today where voters in two states have approved it and support has reached the fifty-percent threshold in Oregon. And although Measure 80 failed by a narrow margin last fall, today more than 8 of 10 voters believe that it only a matter of time before marijuana is legal in Oregon and they are looking for the legislature to take the lead.

Thank you.

Posted on: April 3rd, 2013 by dhm-research

On Wednesday, DHM Research Founder and Principal Adam Davis continued the conversation on the Chalkboard Project’s blog site. An excellent article, and even more we’re proud to partner with our friends at the CP, adding to the conversation and working to make our education system the ideal model it should and can be. Read Adam’s snippet below, and then read the full post here:

Much is made in Oregon of the urban/rural divide—the supposed gulf that separates Oregonians living in urban and rural areas of the state based on differences in their values and beliefs. I started measuring these differences thirty-six years ago when I first began to research opinion in all corners of the state. While there are important differences, what I also learned then, and continue to see in our surveys today, is how similar we Oregonians are in much that we hold dear, regardless of where we live in the state. Too often only the differences are reported by the media and beaten like a drum in political speeches.

With all the challenges we face as a state, including the need to improve our public education system, it is important to acknowledge the values and beliefs we share and try to build our future on these, rather than let differences separate us and undermine our efforts to build a better Oregon for our children and grandchildren.

What do Oregonians value about living in the state? It doesn’t matter where you live. The answers are the same: natural beauty, clean air and water, proximity and variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, sense of community, and . . . the climate!  READ MORE

What Tri-County Residents Want in a Neighborhood
Posted on: March 22nd, 2013 by dhm-research

Between November 16 and December 13, 2012, DHM Research conducted a survey of 3,799 members of the Opt-In panel about regional housing priorities. A link to the full results from the survey can be found here. We started by providing participants with a list of neighborhood attributes and asked them to select their three most important when deciding on an area to live, given their current economic situation.

The chart below shows the results broken out by Tri-County area (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties)*:

A few notable findings:

  • Multnomah County participants were most likely to cite walking distance to public transportation (41%), walking distance to a park or natural area (36%), and pedestrian and bicycle amenities (36%) as the most important neighborhood attributes for them when deciding on an area to live.
  • Washington and Clackamas County residents both selected walking distance to a park or natural area (45% and 42%, respectively) and quality public schools (41% and 40%, respectively) as the most important neighborhood attributes for them when deciding on an area to live.
  • Multnomah County participants (41%) were nearly twice as likely to cite walking distance to public transportation than those from Washington (24%) and Clackamas Counties (22%).
  • Washington and Clackamas County participants (41% and 40%, respectively) were twice as likely to cite quality public schools as participants from Multnomah County (21%).

*Sample size by county: Multnomah (N=1,727); Washington (N=670); Clackamas (N=358).

DHM Panel Survey Finds Urgency For Immigration Reform
Posted on: February 12th, 2013 by dhm-research

From January 25-28 of 2013, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 365 Oregonians via the DHM Panel on issues related to gun control and immigration. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole. The margin of error on the survey was +/- 5.1%.

Below is a summary of our findings from the immigration portion of the survey:

  • Participants were twice as likely to agree with the statement that (A) immigrants are essential to building the future economy in Oregon; without them we will not have enough workers in the future (68%) than with the statement (B) immigrants take away jobs from residents of Oregon; we need to do everything in our power to keep them from coming into Oregon (32%).
  • Agreement with statement A was significantly higher among Democrats than Republicans (89% vs. 48%).
  • Agreement with Statement A was higher among Tri-County (72%) and Willamette Valley (73%) residents than residents from the rest of the state (58%).
  • A slim majority (52%) of Republicans agreed with statement B, the only demographic group to have majority agreement with that statement.
  • When considering all of the important issues facing the country, 69% viewed federal immigration reform as either “very” (31%) or “somewhat” (38%) urgent. This was a 10% overall decrease in urgency from a similar survey conducted about the issue in 2010.
  • Overall urgency (“very/somewhat”) for immigration reform increased with age (18-34: 57%; 35-54: 67%; 55+: 81%). In fact, those 55+ had the highest such rating among all demographic groups, while those 18-34 had the lowest.
  • Overall urgency for immigration was nearly identical among Democrats and Republicans. However, Republicans were more than twice as likely to consider it “very” urgent than Democrats (46% vs. 22%).

Thanks again to all who participated in this survey. To sign up for the panel and participate in upcoming surveys click here. There are more interesting surveys to come!

DHM Panel Survey Finds Support for Stricter Gun Laws
Posted on: February 8th, 2013 by dhm-research

From January 25-28 of 2013, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 365 Oregonians via the DHM Panel on issues related to gun control and immigration. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole. The margin of error on the survey was +/- 5.1%.

Below is a summary of our findings from the gun control portion of the survey:

  • 36% of those surveyed had a gun in their home, compared to 63% who did not. Republicans were more likely to be gun owners than Democrats (48% vs. 27%). 33% of those with a child under the age of 18 in the home also had a gun in the home.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they felt laws covering the sales of firearms should be made more strict, compared to 33% of who felt they should be kept as they are now. Only 5% said gun laws should be made less strict. Females were more likely to feel that gun laws should be made more strict than males (71% vs. 55%).
  • Participants were more supportive of expanded background checks for potential gun buyers than they were for laws that would ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips and assault weapons.
  • Three-fourths (76%) favored a law requiring background checks before people could buy guns at gun shows. 11% were opposed. 59% of gun owners supported background checks at gun shows.
  • Nearly six in ten (57%) said they would support a law which would ban the sale and possession of high-capacity ammunition clips that can contain more than 10 bullets. One-third (33%) were opposed. There was a strong partisan divide, with 85% of Democrats supportive compared to 32% of Republicans.
  • Similarly, 56% were supportive of a law which would ban the sale and possession of assault weapons. 33% of gun owners were supportive of an assault weapons ban. Notably, support for the ban increased with age (18-34: 41%; 35-54: 57%; 55+: 64%).
  • Overall, there were significant differences of opinion when it came to enhanced gun laws, with large preference divides between men and women (women were more supportive); Republicans and Democrats (Democrats were more supportive); and area of state (Tri-County and Willamette Valley residents were more supportive than residents from the rest of the state).

Thanks again to all who participated in this survey. To sign up for the panel and participate in upcoming surveys click here. We look forward to hearing your opinions!

Teachers, a penny (or more) for their thoughts—It is worth it
Posted on: February 4th, 2013 by dhm-research

On Monday, DHM Research Founder and Principal Adam Davis continued the conversation on the Chalkboard Project’s blog site. An excellent article, and even more we’re proud to partner with our friends at the CP, adding to the conversation and working to make our education system the ideal model it should and can be. Read Adam’s snippet below, and then read the full post here:

My last two postings presented some issues education reform advocates in Oregon should consider as they work to improve public K-12 education in Oregon and do battle, often with teacher unions, in Salem and in their local districts. Another tool to have in your advocacy tool box are survey findings showing how teachers (as opposed to teacher union leadership) feel about the issues, including an understanding of the motivations that underlie those feelings, if attitudes cut across the full teacher population or if there are certain subgroups of teachers (e.g., newer teachers) that may feel differently than other subgroups, and how these feelings compare to voter attitudes.

Your advocacy needs to anticipate questions from policymakers about teacher attitudes. These questions can be very general (Besides more money, what do teachers consider to be the most important thing to do to improve student academic growth?) or about a specific issue. (How do teachers feel about the changes you’re proposing for teacher and principal evaluations?) Showing that teachers support a reform proposal, or that their concerns were identified and considered in the development of a proposal and either incorporated into it or dismissed for good reason, has been helpful to education reform advocates in both Washington and Connecticut where we’ve done independent surveys of teachers. Also helpful is having information to push back on the unions who may be making claims about teachers’ attitudes that are not in line with their full membership or a significant proportion of teachers, or with the attitudes of voters...READ MORE

Attitudes Toward Pre-Natal Care: A Question of Citizenship
Posted on: January 23rd, 2013 by dhm-research

Continuing from the previous post about a recent survey for the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF), we turn now to the opinions of Oregonians  regarding equity in pre-natal health and the influence of citizenship status on those opinions. As before, we started out by providing general statements about access to healthcare and asked respondents to assess their overall agreement with each. See how agreement changed once immigration status was brought into the mix.

A few notable findings:

•Overall agreement with the first statement was 72%. That agreement dropped to 64% when immigration status was introduced, a decline of 8%. However, even with the decline, strong majorities agreed with both statements.
•Across almost all demographic groups, introduction of immigration status had a negative effect on how convincing investment in the health of Oregon children is.
•The only positive increase in agreement was among Independent/unaffiliated respondents (+5%).
•The largest negative impact was seen among Republicans (-27%).
•Younger respondents (18-34) were more likely agree with both statements than older respondents.
•Results varied little across area of state.

Check out NWHF’s perspectives on health equity here.

Oregonians weigh in on health equity
Posted on: January 17th, 2013 by dhm-research

In a recent survey for the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF) we asked Oregonians for their thoughts regarding equity in health and healthcare. We started out by providing several general statements about access to healthcare and asked respondents to assess their overall agreement with each. Check out NWHF’s perspectives on health equity here.

Do you agree/disagree strongly or somewhat with each statement?

A few notable findings:

  • Agreement was highest (93%) with the message centered around access to healthcare for children.
  • 71% agreed that healthcare is a human right.
  • In general, Democrats and women were more likely than their counterparts to agree with each statement.
  • There were no significant differences in agreement by respondent’s area of state.


Posted on: January 8th, 2013 by dhm-research

Posted on: January 3rd, 2013 by dhm-research

DHM Research is kicking off the New Year in a variety of new arenas, including work for The Oregon Idea. This group is a coalition of small business owners, CEOs, community leaders, and alumni of Oregon’s community colleges and universities who share a common vision for Oregon’s post-secondary education system: “Investing in post-secondary education today will lead to economic prosperity tomorrow.” View their website here.

Recently, DHM Research asked participants on the DHM Panel to answer a series of questions about higher education in Oregon. Respondents were asked whether their views towards post-secondary education funding have changed in the last five years. (If you would like to join the DHM Panel please click here.) Below are some notable findings from the survey:

  • Compared to how they felt five years ago, respondents were much more likely to feel it is more important (40%) than less important (8%) to invest taxpayer money in Oregon’s community colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities.
  • When asked to explain why they had indicated more important, respondents tended to note the connection between education and economic competitiveness, for both individuals and the state. As one respondent put it, “Educated citizens are the bedrock of communities, solid economies, and innovative future industries.” 
  • In that vein of future industries, many respondents emphasized the need for tech-savvy students to meet the demands of an increasingly modernized workplace. One respondent contended that “the future of the state is in high technology. We need to educate the students of our state so that they can be technologically employed.”
  • Additionally, more than two-thirds said it was either an “urgent” or “high” priority to fully fund secondary education to train students in critical degrees and with the skills tied to real-life jobs (69%) and to support the type of research that leads to new jobs in fields like health care, engineering, and high tech (68%).

Stay tuned for additional findings from our work for The Oregon Idea. As the Oregon Legislature prepares to wrestle with some difficult budgeting questions in the upcoming session, we expect to see post-secondary education as a prominent part of the discussion.

Posted on: December 25th, 2012 by dhm-research

See Public Policy Polling’s (PPP) holiday poll results here. Some of their more notable findings:

  • 54% of voters said they were concerned that the looming “fiscal cliff” could cause Santa to cut back on his benefits.
  • When asked, “If Grandma got run over by a reindeer, would you press charges against Santa?” 61% would not press charges, to 24% who would. 33% of Democrats would press charges compared to 19% of Republicans.

Also, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa here.

How do they do it? Well, according to their website NORAD “uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets.” Makes sense to us.

Happy holidays from all of us at DHM Research!

Posted on: November 23rd, 2012 by dhm-research

On Wednesday, DHM Research Founder and Principal Adam Davis continued the conversation on the Chalkboard Project’s blog site. An excellent article, and even more we’re proud to partner with our friends at the CP, adding to the conversation and working to make our education system the ideal model it should and can be. Read Adam’s snippet below, and then read the full post here:

Last time we looked at six issues for K-12 advocates to consider in preparing to do battle in Salem during the 2013 legislative session. This time let’s consider six sneaker issues related to public education. Like sneaker waves that are large and unexpected, these issues might rise up without warning and swamp discussions between educators and Oregonians. They are important to know about, because how advocates address them may impact their credibility with people whose support is important in other areas, like improving educator quality and securing more funding.

Too much homework. Many parents feel their children—especially K-8—are being given too much homework, to the point of negatively impacting family dynamics and jeopardizing their children’s health. Parents also get inconsistent messages about the quality and quantity of homework from administrators and teachers. Some believe there is no empirical evidence showing that homework plays an important role in a child’s academic success, and they feel it is a poor substitute for more time in the classroom with teachers and fellow students.

Internet communications. Parents want to be able to use the internet to communicate with their child’s teachers, for everything from arranging conferences to discussing classroom issues to obtaining progress reports. We hear complaints that teachers don’t have the latest technology or training to use it to communicate with parents…

Why do we vote on a Tuesday?
Posted on: October 27th, 2012 by dhm-research

Ari Wubbold, October 26, 2012

If someone were to ask you what day of the week you thought the greatest number of Americans could take time off to vote, which day would you choose? Probably Saturday or Sunday, I’d wager. We have more free time on weekends; what with work, school, and myriad other obligations during the week. So why then do we vote on a Tuesday? The answer has to do with the culture of antebellum America.

In 1845, when Tuesday was selected as the official voting day for presidential elections by the 2nd session of the 28th Congress, America was a vastly different country than it is now. For example, steam-powered manufacturing had not yet had its Civil War boom, meaning that for many the horse-drawn carriage was the most efficient means of transport. In addition, we were primarily an agrarian society that set our schedules according to planting and harvesting – as well as religious – markers. This meant that not only was getting to the country seat to vote a real undertaking (usually requiring several days for travelling), but there also were few viable calendar windows for such a trip. Tuesday was ultimately settled upon through a process of elimination.

Because travel was forbidden on the Sabbath, Monday wouldn’t work due to the distances many had to go just to get to the polls, and Wednesday, as market day, was no good. Therefore, Tuesday was selected as the “first convenient day of the week.”

Et viola! Tuesday voting. Yet this does not answer the question of why we still vote on a Tuesday. After all, not only have we advanced technologically to allow for faster travel, but we have also updated our voting system to allow for more convenient participation (here’s looking at you, vote-by-mail). So why the antiquated civic ritual (especially given the scheduling challenges posed by the modern workweek)? You would think that a nation that ranks 138 out of 169 for voter turnout (just behind the Republic of Armenia)* would encourage any reforms that might boost involvement. Well, it’s not for a lack of trying.

On November 8, 1997, Sen. Herbert “Herb” Kohl (D-WI) introduced a bill to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration of the 105th Congress called the Weekend Voting Act (S. 1463), which would amend section 1 of title 3, United States Code, by replacing “Tuesday next after the first Monday” with “first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday.” Done and done…or maybe not. This bill would go on to wither on the committee vine, as would re-introduced versions in the 107th, 109th, 110th, 111th, and 112th Congresses. So much for that.

However, with early voting and absentee ballots, one might ask, isn’t Tuesday simply the voting deadline at this point – not the primary voting day – making all of this pointless? Not exactly. In fact, 15 states do not allow early voting (Virginian and Pennsylvania, to name a couple) meaning that unless you are voting absentee, Tuesday is your only option. With work, school, and who knows what else on your plate, how convenient is that?

*According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

What is a Push Poll?
Posted on: October 11th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

As the election in November looms closer, voters across the country – especially in crucial swing states – are being targeted by pollsters eager to capture the most current state of public opinion. With that search for information comes significant confusion over what constitutes legitimate polling. While some may take issue with how certain polls are conducted – for example, calling only landline telephones tends to reach an older demographic, potentially skewing polling data – one should acknowledge that most reputable polling outfits try to adhere to strict guidelines of conduct. Occasionally, however, a polling tactic emerges that casts the entire industry in an unflattering light.

 Ah, push it – push it real good.

There is pervading confusion over what a push poll actually is. This confusion partially stems from a lack of understanding over what pollsters do with the data they accumulate. DHM Research produces data primarily for clients such as governments, nonprofits, and businesses in order to help them better inform and shape public policy and decision-making. This data is not utilized by DHM for any other purpose than to inform the client of the opinions of whichever demographics they chose to target; no hidden agenda, no predetermined outcome. A push poll, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal.

So what is a push poll? Push polls are effectively telemarketing tools for campaigns. They utilize statements (often false) that are intended to “push” someone in a predetermined direction. Using the facade of a legitimate attempt to capture public opinion, these polls are not polls at all; they make no effort to gather and quantify data and instead serve as large-scale attempts to reshape consumer (or voter) opinion. Here is an example (with special thanks to Isaac Asimov): “If you found that candidate X was a robot, would you be less likely or more likely to vote for him/her/it?” The intention of this “question” is clear: to inculcate in respondents negative opinions towards candidate X. By asking this question to tens of thousands of participants – a much larger scale than traditional opinion polls – purveyors of such push polls are able to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of a significant population group (in this case as to the actual humanity of a candidate). In a contested race, such a strategy might just push enough voters to impact the outcome.

Tips for Education Advocates
Posted on: September 12th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Yesterday DHM Research Founder and Principal Adam Davis started the conversation on the Chalkboard Project’s blog site. An excellent article, and even more we’re proud to partner with our friends at the CP, adding to the conversation and working to make our education system the ideal model it should and can be. Read Adam’s snippet below, and then read the full post here:

As parents and students settle into the new school year, K-12 public education advocates prepare for the new legislative session scheduled to begin only four months from now. A quick overview of Oregonians’ attitudes about K-12 public education may be valuable to these warriors as they gird for battle in Salem. Some of these considerations may not be news, but as I watch those advocating for a better K-12 public education system, I am often left wondering if it wouldn’t help to remind ourselves of some past lessons. Following are a few findings from our focus groups and surveys that may be valuable in developing effective communications with voters and state legislators.

It is not all about money. Remember, a significant number of Oregonians believe the system has enough money. They see the problem as not using the money wisely. Education advocates should talk about how public education is being more efficient at the state and local levels and how educators are using new ideas and methods to increase student achievement (e.g., Chalkboard). If you want to connect with more voters and legislators, this has to be as much a part of your advocacy language as pleas for more money.

K-3 is the sweet spot. In a time of limited resources, more Oregonians every day have to make tough decisions and set priorities. They expect the same from their elected representatives, who need to focus on getting the best return on taxpayer money. For many people, that means investing in the early grades. As one focus group participant put it, “You’ve lost them by the time they get to the middle grades and high school. You need to be sure they’re given a good foundation to succeed in life.” If any aspect of your advocacy represents an opportunity to improve K-3 education, then talk about it.  You’ll be connecting with more voters and legislators…

The Birthplace of Focus Groups
Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Our always on-point and diligent policy intern Ari Wubbold shares his piece on the history of focus groups, answering the age-old question “just where the heck did focus groups come from?” We know they weren’t delivered by a stork:

Ari Wubbold, September 4, 2012

Though reports vary, the prevailing story is that the first focus groups emerged during WWII for sociologists to study the impact of military propaganda films on viewers. Conducted by the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University, these groups were designed to identify the exact reason certain scenes, lines, or phrases made [the audience] think or act in a certain way. Such research was useful to the government as it helped point to messages that engendered greater support for the war effort.

Originally founded in 1937 at Princeton University as the Office of Radio Research, the institute conducted research in “decision making and social scientific methodologies.” One of its early reports – The Invasion from Mars – was a comprehensive study of the chaotic reaction to Orson Welles’ infamous reading of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. However, this focus on media research and communications would begin to evolve as several large shifts occurred within the institute.

The ORR moved from Princeton to Columbia and in 1944 changed its name to the Bureau of Applied Social Research. Also within that span, a notable addition was made to the staff: Robert K. Merton. A noted sociologist, Merton would become the first in his field to win the National Medal of Science for “founding the sociology of science and for his pioneering contributions to the study of social life, especially the self-fulfilling prophecy [a phrase he coined] and the unintended consequences of social action.” Not bad for a man who’s original career goal was to be a magician.

With the addition of Merton, the bureau began to “lay foundations for the mainstream of American sociology in the postwar era,” seemingly completing the shift from media commentary to influential social research (with the occasional market testing of laxatives to pay the bills). During the war, Merton and several colleagues developed the “focused group interview” to “elicit the responses of groups to texts, radio programs and films.” Though Merton believed that conclusions based on larger, representative samples were bound to be more accurate, he continued to stand by the value of focus groups (if conducted correctly) and would often state that he “wished he could be paid a royalty fee whenever the technique was used.”

Today focus groups are used to judge impressions of everything ranging from product advertisements to political messages to the performance of governments and businesses. DHM Research frequently employs them to gain a deeper level of understanding of how people feel about a particular issue than can be captured by an anonymous survey. Importantly, the ability to ask follow-up questions “allows for exploration of why respondents gave the answer they did.” Whether you’re testing war propaganda, surveying impressions of Oregon’s timber industry, or selling laxatives, such insights are paramount for accurately capturing public preference.

Posted on: August 17th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

John Horvick, Senior Associate, August 17, 2012

Water. It intrigues me like no other topic that we work on here at DHM Research.

When we ask people in surveys what they value about living in the Northwest, access to rivers, lakes, and oceans are near the top of the list. And when we ask the public about the environment, water quality is typically the number one concern. Yet, I know from many qualitative studies, when we sit down and talk to average folks about their local water supply, they often know little or nothing about it. It varies from community to community, but high percentages of people cannot even name the source of their drinking water, let alone describe what happens to it after it goes down the drain. It is this combination of absolute necessity, high perceived value, but lack of knowledge that fascinates me as a public opinion researcher.

It is easy to bemoan the fact that the public is unaware of basics of their water supply, but in a very real way, it represents a staggering achievement. In the course of human history, it is only in the last few moments that securing a daily supply of clean water hasn’t been a central focus of everyday life (at least, in the developed world). Because we don’t have to worry about where our next drink of water will come from, our time, labor and resources can be dedicated to other pursuits.

On the other hand, because we have been so successful at providing clean water, we have largely taken for granted that the supply is inexhaustible and the infrastructure to deliver it will never fail. This causes challenges for policy makers who need public support to make investments in maintaining and replacing aging water systems. When I lead focus groups about community water, people are frequently in disbelief that their water infrastructure may need any improvements. From their perspective, they are already receiving high quality water, reliably, and at a good price. Therefore, they see little need to invest in modernizing or replacing what they have, especially when they are unlikely to notice any immediate improvements in quality, safety, reliability or cost. Yet, many communities do have serious deficiencies, such that in 2009 the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure D- minus grades.

To raise public conscience about water, we have found that it is valuable for providers to develop communication strategies that connect water to other important values, especially public health, environmental protection, and economic development. It is also beneficial to regularly communicate what is being done to maintain the existing infrastructure and the value the public receives from those investments.

To learn more about the public’s perceptions about water quality, I encourage you tune into EarthFix, which is a collaboration among public broadcasters in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. DHM Research recently conducted a survey for EarthFix about water quality, which they will be reporting on over the next several weeks.


Making Sense of Presidential race polls: the scoop
Posted on: August 13th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Tim Hibbitts, Principal and Founder, August 13, 2012

If you are reading this blog, you probably are an active consumer of polling data.
If you have a particular interest in the Presidential race; here are some things to keep in mind when looking at polling data:

1) First, don’t put too much weight in any given national poll. Right now, there are seven different national polls on the Presidential race that have come out within the last week. The range of the polls is anywhere from a 3 point lead for Romney (Rasmussen) to a 9 point lead for Obama (Fox). When you have a number of credible polling firms producing a variety of results, the best thing to do is average them all, which is likely to give you the best measure of where things actually are. Purists would blanch at that suggestion (techniques are different; samples are different; you shouldn’t average polls that use different methodologies; etc.) but the simple truth is that if you go back to the last three Presidential elections, the averaging method has given an excellent snapshot of both where a race stands and what the eventual outcome is likely to be. Real Clear Politics and Pollster.com are just two of the sources that average national polling.

2) Second, be aware that many national firms are still polling all eligible adults and not ‘likely voters.’ After Labor Day you can expect that all firms will be shifting their polls to likely voters. This is likely to help the Romney campaign a bit; as most years drawing the sample in from all ‘eligible voters’ to ‘most likely voters’ produces a bit more conservative and Republican sample.

Lastly, for all of the back and forth between the two campaigns, not much has happened over the last several months. Obama has led by between 1-4 points since March, so be very wary of any individual poll that suggests a dramatic change; regardless of who benefits from it; unless there are events that could explain the change.

Pollsters struggle to pin down the right (cell) number
Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Last weekend the New York Times released a very relevant and honest look at the challenges staring the polling industry in the face. The piece is good, looking at the realities of not only getting people to stay on the phone and the ever-changing and evolving communications revolution we’re experiencing, but also demographic challenges involved with cell phone users (what majority owns cell phones? more Democrats? fewer seniors? etc.) and ensuring quotas are met. To drastically oversimplify, it would be like children deciding they only like candy sometimes, leaving the candy store to completely reevaluate its inventory.

But the oversimplification isn’t that far off, and most definitely isn’t an argument against the validity or usefulness of polling. Instead it’s a bold reminder that business-as-usual will never meet the demands of our hyperactive world. The status quo may work in some industries, but not ours — and, frankly, we couldn’t be happier about that.

We hold innovation and expertise as our two highest priorities at DHM Research. These challenges are opportunities to develop new approaches and shake things up — change the old for the new. We have the capacity and commitment to every project to ensure every detail of the research design is married to scientific validity, and that we are not only keeping up with trends, but ahead and setting them.

We’ve accepted this world of ours will always change and for us it’s an opportunity to solve the same complex problems through new and innovative solutions. Give us a ring and we’ll talk more.

Tim Hibbitts weighs in on key strategies for Portland mayoral race
Posted on: August 3rd, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Our very own Tim Hibbitts with insight on key strategies for the Portland mayoral race: Portland mayor’s race: Jefferson Smith, Charlie Hales jockey for broad appeal

Your daily read
Posted on: July 31st, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Your daily read today comes courtesy of our dedicated intern Ari Wubbold — who just happens to have a pulse on all things academic and policy-related. Survey of the States 2011: The State of Economic and Personal Finance Education in our Nation’s Schools is an interesting study linking economic education, personal financial know-how, and the holistic health of local and national economies.

While we stay neutral at DHM Research, they aptly summarize their thesis below:

“Just as it was not possible to live in an industrialized society without print literacy – the ability to read and write – so it is not possible to live in today’s world without being financially literate. To fully participate in society today, financial literacy is critical.” 

Our newest partnership
Posted on: July 25th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Volunteering, philanthropy, and sponsorships are the glue connecting good causes, ideas, and organizations with the resources to achive their goals. At DHM Research, we have an ongoing commitment to partner with organizations working to improve our communities and way of life.

One such organization is the Chalkboard Project who, along with Oregon Business Magazine, we’ve partnered with to provide the ad below featured in July’s Oregon Business Magazine issue.

We’re not just connected to regular clients, but also with the broader community, and proud to partner with such great people.

Over the next month, we will highlight these organizations and how we’ve partnered to enrich the Portland region and Oregon.



When garbage and compost go on vacation
Posted on: July 20th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Happy Friday! In Oregon we have officially had three weeks of hot weather, even though cloudy now. We’ll take what we can get.

DHM has been working on garbage management and recycling issues a lot lately (stay tuned!) and wanted to share this interesting story from one of our Portland weeklies: The Muck, Raked looks at what really happens when we start the process from sink-side in our kitchen, emptying those cute little compost bins into those larger, clunky green bins that we conveniently place curbside — with that rotten apple, discarded salad greens, and even yard debris never to be seen again. The world of garbage transport, and the market surrounding this seemingly out-of-sight world, is fascinating. Of course you can Google it, but also check out some local sources such as Metro and stay tuned for Opt In’s latest survey on how folks in the Portland region feel about their garbage service.

Really, to be honest, curbside garbage service is one of those incredibly convenient things that I personally always take for granted.



Opt In goes international
Posted on: July 3rd, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Another interesting read — how governments across the globe are connecting to constituents and increasing civic participation. Metro’s own Opt In panel, managed by yours truly DHM Research, is featured. The document is a PDF for viewing purposes.

While you’re reading, civic engagement and participation is an issue we’re all extremely passionate about. Read the Portland Tribune’s article and editorial here:

Metro’s Opt In Survey Gather’s Ideas, by Jim Redden

Opt In to Lend your Voice to Decisions, by the Tribune Editorial Board

Your daily read: It’s Way Too Early for Democrats to Panic
Posted on: July 3rd, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Link recommended by founding principal Tim Hibbitts. If you get a second, give a read:

It’s Way Too Early for Democrats To Panic/ SEAN TRENDE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS

The Presidential Race In Oregon
Posted on: June 27th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Tim Hibbitts, June 26, 2012

Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) released an interesting poll on the Oregon Presidential and other statewide races recently. PPP generally has a strong track record, so the results are worth a look. They show the President leading Mitt Romney by a 50-42% margin, with Democratic candidates for the second tier offices (AG; SOS; and Treasurer) leading by between 12 and 18 points. It’s a bit early yet to get too worked up about any poll, but there are some messages, and a couple of head scratchers in the results:

First, the gist of the poll makes sense to us. While Oregon has not been heavily polled this year (as it is not seen to be a battleground state), the assumption has been that Obama would not sustain the historic landslide he won in 2008 (56.8 to 40.4%); and the state would be more competitive; but still comfortably in the Democratic column in 2012.

Let’s be as clear as possible, if Oregon becomes a true battleground state this year, Barack Obama is very likely to lose nationally. By contrast, an Obama win in Oregon in the 5-8% range (currently the most likely outcome) will probably suggest a very close national election.

Second, it is worth noting that in 2008 Obama led the Democratic ticket in Oregon (minus the unopposed AG race) and his presence doubtless helped Jeff Merkley take down Gordon Smith by a bit more than 3%, and likely helped Kate Brown and Ben Westlund too (they each won by about 6%). This year, it is distinctly possible that Obama will be bringing up the rear rather than leading the parade.

In sum, no or very short Obama coattails in Oregon in 2012. That could have some implications in swing legislative districts here and there. Delving into the internals of the poll reveals a couple of puzzling data points. The PPP poll shows the makeup of the electorate as 46% Democrat; 30% Republican, and 25% Independent. The current registration figures in the state are about 40% Democrat; 32% Republican; and 28% Independent/Other. We haven’t finished modeling what we expect the turnout mix to be this fall, but right now it looks to us that the electorate will likely be about 42% Democrat, 34% Republican and 24% Independent/Other. It will most definitely not consist of a 16 point Democratic edge. So, the PPP poll  has a Democratic lean to it (probably +4 Democrat; Republican -4). Playing around with weighting the numbers to reflect about a 42-34% Democratic turnout edge would bring Obama’s lead down to about 3-4 points. It’s not likely that close right now but this poll might overstate his lead a bit, and it is the President’s current good fortune that the poll shows Romney just isn’t very well liked among Oregon voters.

Lastly, PPP notes that erosion for the President has come primarily out of Independents, as Obama now trails Romney by 22 points (!) among this group; 52 to 30%. In our final 2008 poll Obama led John McCain by 23 points among Independents. But, the crosstabs from the PPP poll also show Obama leading Romney by 21 points; 54 to 33% among self described moderates. This is a bit of an oddity, as we don’t tend to find the two diverging by a net of 43 points in partisan races. Of course not every Independent is moderate; and vice versa, but it’s a bit of stretch to figure out how the President is losing Independents by 22 points yet winning moderates by 21. Perhaps it might be explained by the President winning Democratic moderates big but losing Independent moderates and conservatives by  crushing margins.

In any event, Obama coasted to a big victory in Oregon in 2008, this time his team is going to have to work for it.

The Man Who Supposedly Cost George H.W. Bush the Presidency
Posted on: June 25th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Tim Hibbitts
From Vol. 28, Issue No. 2 of The Polling Report, January 30, 2012

In the great, late-era western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, an aged United States senator comes home to attend the burial of a little known man who played a seminal role in the events that launched the senator’s career. The senator tells a newspaper reporter the real story of those events, which is at considerable variation with the legend, and the reporter effectively says, “When the facts collide with the legend, print the legend.”

So it is with the 1992 presidential election, as even today many reporters state as fact that independent Ross Perot cost George H. W. Bush the presidency. It is, after all, a great narrative: Vengeful billionaire sinks President’s reelection bid. Much sexier than: Billionaire runs for president, draws votes equally from both candidates, doesn’t change outcome. The Perot-as-Bush-destroyer narrative is also highly favored by Republicans; it makes them blameless for the objective conditions in the country extant at the time of the election: “It was that crazy Perot’s fault, not ours.”

How this canard gained such wide purchase among reporters, particularly given the wealth of easily available empirical evidence to debunk it, is a bit of a mystery. Most recently, Politico reporters John Harris and Jonathan Martin noted in a January 11, 2012, article that Perot “gravely damaged then-President George Bush’s reelection prospects.” They cite none other than Rush Limbaugh as a source for this. Mr. Limbaugh certainly carries considerable heft as a radio entertainer; as a serious political analyst, not so much.

Pre-election Polls

We have pre-election polls and exit polling to make an assessment of what impact Perot actually had on the outcome. In a three-way match-up nationally, in early June 1992, Perot led with 39%, Bush was second with 31%, while Bill Clinton trailed with 25%, according to Gallup. Perot exited the race during the Democratic convention in mid-July. In the immediate aftermath of the convention, Gallup had Clinton leading Bush 56% to 34%, clearly a post-convention bounce. But a month later, Clinton still led—by between 17 and 25 points—in half a dozen national media polls, with President Bush not exceeding 37% of the vote in any of them. In mid-September, with Perot still out of the race, an ABC News/Washington Post poll gave Clinton a commanding 58%, with the incumbent still stuck at a very familiar 37%.

Then, on October 1st, Perot re-entered the race. An October 8-11 poll—done by the Times Mirror Center for The People & The Press, directed by the outstanding Andrew Kohut—found that Clinton had dropped to 48%, with Bush at 35%, and Perot at 8% (in mid-September, they had found Clinton leading Bush 53%-38%). An October 20-22 follow-up poll of the same 1,153 voters surveyed earlier in the month found that Clinton had slipped to 44%, while Bush held at 34%, and Perot had jumped to 19%. The very first sentence of the extensive press release, dated October 26, noted that, “Ross Perot’s surge in the polls is drawing somewhat more support from Bill Clinton than from George Bush, and the third party candidate seems poised to make more gains that might further narrow Bill Clinton’s nationwide margin.”

That press release came out the same morning that Perot’s bizarre charges that Republicans had conspired to ruin his daughter’s wedding floated into the general political consciousness, and that was the end of the Perot surge. Nonetheless, he still drew 19% on Election Day, to Clinton’s 43% and Bush’s 37.5%.

What do we learn in sum from these pre-election polls? First, we learn that from mid-July through September of 1992, Clinton’s lead over Bush was at its greatest, nationally, and consistently ranged at or in excess of 15 points, except for a very brief time after the Republican convention. Second, we learn that the race began to narrow as Perot picked up support after re-entering the race. Clinton ended up winning by about 5.5 percentage points, far below his peak margins of the summer.

Third, and most important, we learn that the vote share of President Bush stayed within a narrow range in all of the polls. In the polls cited above, his vote share ranged from a low of 31% to a high of 38%, and he ended with 37.5%. The “change” vote oscillated between the two challengers—when Perot was up, Clinton was down, and vice versa.

Beyond the polls I’ve cited, the vast majority of other public polls taken between mid-July and the election showed Bush in the same range, and Clinton with the same kind of lead in a two-way match-up. Bush’s numbers just did not move very much, regardless of whether Perot was in the race or out of it.

These poll results are consistent with the dynamic of an electorate that has rendered a negative judgment on an incumbent that is very unlikely to change. Bush’s approval rating hit 40% in March of 1992 (before Perot was a major factor) and effectively stayed at or below that level until the election. By the summer and early fall of 1992, his job approval ratings were consistently in the upper 30s, and up to 75% of the voters said the country was off on the wrong track. This is a prescription for incumbent defeat; and Bush’s problems helped create Perot, not the other way around.

Exit Poll Data and the Perot Vote

Now, let’s briefly consider the 1992 exit poll data and the actual composition of the Perot vote. According to the exit poll data, 38% of the Perot voters said they would have voted for Clinton in a two way race, 38% would have voted for Bush, 24% would not have voted. Perot won 30% of independents, 17% of Republicans, and 13% of Democrats. Put another way, of his 19% popular vote share, 8 percentage points came from independents, 6 from Republicans, and 5 from Democrats. Fully 53% of Perot’s vote came from self-defined moderates, 27% from conservatives and 20% from liberals; so about 10 points of his 19% came from self-described moderates, with 5 points coming from conservatives and 4 points from liberals. We also know from the exit polls that the Perot voters were angrier at the political system than supporters of the other candidates. Do these Perot supporters really look like voters that would have gone heavily to incumbent Bush in a two-candidate race?

It is just possible that Perot cost Bush a state here or there where Clinton squeezed out a very narrow plurality (Colorado, Montana, Ohio and Georgia come to mind as possibilities), but there is no empirical evidence that documents this that I am aware of. Even if true for all four states (a very unlikely probability), it merely reduces Clinton’s electoral vote majority from a near landslide to very comfortable.

When confronted with hard data on the Perot voters, some proponents of the Perot-damaged-Bush theory will fall back on the argument that “Perot changed the dynamics of the election; he helped Clinton by ganging up on Bush and making it two against one,” or that “Perot launched himself on some kind of kamikaze mission against Bush” (Limbaugh’s fact-challenged theory) and concentrated his fire exclusively, or nearly so, on the President. Both conjectures are false. Perot directed his fire at the political system and Washington, D.C., climate more than at Bush, and he found a responsive national audience for that anti-status quo message.

Character and Communism

The second part of this argument—if Bush had been able to go one on one with Clinton from July onward they could have made his character the defining issue—also lacks credibility. It ignores the fact that Bush did have a two-way race with Clinton for well over two-thirds of the time between mid-July and the election (from mid-July to the end of September), including the Republican convention and its aftermath.

The Bush team made little or no progress closing the margin, despite the fact that Perot was out of the way for all of this time. Even a cursory examination of media reporting illustrates the strenuous efforts the Bush people made against Clinton’s character during that time frame. Despite attacking Clinton for pot smoking, draft dodging, adultery, and a trip to Moscow in which they accused him of possibly meeting with communists for nefarious purposes, they still trailed by 15 points or so in late September. It is absurd to believe that another month of the same would have produced a Bush victory.

Like 1980 and 2008, 1992 was a big-issue election held in very cranky times. The reality of 1992 was that by the early fall (at the latest) voters had decided they wanted a change, Clinton had passed the presidential threshold test with swing voters, and they had made an uneasy peace with his personal foibles. Absent a bombshell in the last month, more character attacks were not going to get Bush the win in a one-on-one race with Clinton.

The Clinton people had it right, it was the economy; he got that the country was unhappy, and the swing voters got that he got it. Those who spin the argument that campaign process or dynamics would have changed the outcome in 1992 ignore the much bigger picture of voter discontent that was in play. Absent Perot in the final month, the Bush campaign likely would have made some progress in closing the enormous gap he faced, but in the end he would have lost, and handily.

It would be nice if reporters, in particular, would not do a variation of the Liberty Valance story when assessing the impact of Ross Perot on the 1992 election. It is unfortunate that, while substantial amounts of easily accessible data are there to refute it, the legend of Bush/Perot still retains currency among those who ought to know better.

Tim Hibbitts is a Principal and Founder of DHM Research.

Public Opinion on Oregon Land Use – What the Numbers Tell us
Posted on: June 18th, 2012 by Ari Wubbold

Adam Davis, May 2012

Numbers reveal important and empowering facts. Opinion research shows that healthy majorities in communities across the state of Oregon want to prevent urban sprawl and conserve forest and farm land. Why do residents value living in Oregon?

Thanks to quantitative research we know that the top four reasons relate to land use:  the state’s natural beauty, environmental quality, sense of community, and the proximity and variety of outdoor recreation. These values underlie support for urban growth boundaries, the development of transportation alternatives, walkable communities, and economic development that respects air and water quality and the state’s forest and farm land.

Why then does it seem so difficult to grow Oregon economically in an environmentally sensitive way? Why are proposals so often attacked as too pro-business or too pro-environment, resulting in stalemate? Numbers can help answer these questions, too. Opinion research has found that five factors undermine the development of responsible public policy:

(i) negativity towards government and politics and other major institutions including big business and the media;
(ii) low awareness and knowledge of the ABC’s of government, economics, geography, and history;
(iii) anxiety about the economy and other problems;
(iv) changing attitudes and behaviors related to the media; and
(v) changing demographics.

These factors are all multi-dimensional and, combined with other factors like the initiative process and the closed primary, have led to the worst public opinion climate in Oregon that I’ve seen in my 35 years in the research business. We live in an era of less civic engagement, of less informed participation in the electoral process, and sadly, of policy-making and planning that is controlled by the ends of the opinion spectrum rather than the middle, where most of the general population resides. The bell on the bell-shaped curve has dropped off the graph of civic engagement.

So the numbers tell us what Oregonians value, and they point out obstacles to growing Oregon in keeping with those values. But can they help us do anything about the obstacles? It will take time. The current storm in public opinion is likely to worsen in the short term, resulting in more devastation to public involvement and policy-making. But the numbers tell us that amid the storm damage is a feeling that things are broken and that we have to act differently.  The numbers suggest this feeling grows stronger every day, and may represent an opportunity to reengage the majority of Oregonians, transforming the state’s public institutions and economy. For this to happen we need the leadership of all sectors and all political persuasions to work together, and we need good communications.

If we heed the numbers, we will learn in our communications to link policy initiatives to what people value and to the issues they are concerned about. Take the environment.

Three issues of concern top the list:  clean water, energy dependence, and climate change/global warming. Whether it is a proposal to create more jobs or a land use or transportation system change, linking it to residents’ values and concerns will catch attention across the state and assist in garnering support.

Tuning in to the numbers can help restore a positive political process in Oregon.

Adam Davis is a Principal and Founder of DHM Research.




Welcome to the DHM Research Blog
Posted on: May 2nd, 2012 by admin

The DHM Research blog is a forum to discuss, explore, and educate on policy issues, the latest trends, neutral political commentary, and the industry of public opinion research. Check in regularly for the opinions and information that shape our community.