DHM Survey Results
September 11, 2020
From September 3 to 8, 2020, DHM Research conducted a survey of Oregon voters. The purpose of the survey was to assess values and beliefs related to the presidential election, ongoing protests across the country and in Portland, and COVID-19.
This is the second of three planned data releases and focuses on Oregon voters’ preferences in the presidential election, impressions of key political leaders, and an update to their attitudes about COVID-19.
Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 12 points among Oregon voters.
Biden leads Trump 51% to 39%, a 12-point margin. This is nearly the exact outcome of the 2016 election in Oregon, where Clinton defeated Trump 50% to 39%. As much has changed, Oregon voters’ presidential preferences seem immovable.
It is no surprise at this point that Trump has Republican voters solidly behind him. 91% of Republicans plan to vote for Trump while 5% plan to vote for Biden. Likewise, Biden has locked down the Democratic vote. 87% of Democrats plan to vote for Biden while 8% expect to vote for Trump. Non-affiliated/other (NAV/other) voters lean towards Biden, with 47% planning to vote for the Democratic candidate and 31% for Trump.
The geographic and demographic support for the two candidates is also not surprising. Biden is winning the Portland metro area (59%) and Willamette Valley (52%), and Trump is winning the rest of the state (55%). By age, Biden has a solid majority among voters ages 18-29 (57%) and 30-44 (61%), while Trump is narrowly ahead among voters ages 45-64 (48%) and 65+ (49%). Men are split, with Biden getting 48% to Trump’s 46%, while women lean more heavily toward Biden (53% vs. 32%), though more women are open to voting for a third party or remain undecided (15%).
Education has become an increasing divide in politics and the presidential election, with Democrats and Biden performing better among voters who have completed more education while Republicans and Trump are favored by those with less education. Among college graduates, Biden is leading by 29 points (62% vs. 33%), while Trump is leading by 7 points with those with a high school degree or less (46% vs. 39%).
Oregon voters view Biden more positively than Trump.
52% of Oregon voters have a positive impression of Biden compared to 45% who view him negatively, a positive lean of 7 points. Among Biden voters, 93% view him positively and 7% negatively. 6% of Biden voters view Trump positively.
On the other hand, 39% of Oregon voters have a positive impression of Trump compared to 60% who view him negatively (53% “very” negative), a negative lean of 21 points. Among Trump voters, 93% also view him positively and 7% negatively. Just 2% of Trump voters view Biden positively.
DHM Research has tracked impressions of Trump since October 2016. Negative impressions have ranged from 55% (October 2018) to 68% (October 2019). His current 60% negative rating is about average for his first term.
A majority of Oregon voters have a negative impression of Kate Brown.
51% of Oregon voters have a negative impression of Brown compared to 43% who view her positively. Impressions of her have been stable the last few years, but they are much more negative than when she first came into office. DHM Research first started tracking her in April 2015 when just 15% of voters viewed her negatively. Negative impressions of her increased the following years, with little change to her positive ratings, and she has had negative ratings since June 2019.
Oregon voters give poor marks to the state’s economic conditions but are relatively positive about their personal financial situations.
77% of voters rate Oregon’s current economic conditions as only fair (54%) or poor (24%), while just 21% feel that economic conditions are good (19%) or excellent (2%). Moreover, voters are five times more likely to say that the state’s economic conditions are getting worse (46%) than say they are getting better (9%).
Surprisingly, there is little to no difference in how voters rate the state’s current economic conditions by income or education levels, Biden or Trump supporters, or political party.
Despite these poor ratings of the state’s economy, Oregonians are feeling better about their personal finances than just about any time in the last decade. Since 2011, DHM Research has asked Oregonians how worried they are about their personal financial situation. The percentage of people saying that they are very or somewhat worried peaked in 2012 at 69%. Worry fell to 50% in late 2019. Worry spiked again at the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns, jumping to 63% in March. Since then, worry has ebbed and now for the second time since June “only” 49% of Oregonians say that they are very or somewhat worried.
Likely reasons for the decline in worry is a combination of enhanced federal unemployment benefits and a lack of ways to spend money during the pandemic. It has now been over a month since the $600 per week UI payments stopped but we are yet to see an uptick in Oregonians’ financial worries.
Voters who live in households where someone has lost a job or income due to COVID-19 are the most worried about their financial situations (73%). Other voter groups worried about their financial situations include those ages 18-29 (71%), have a high school degree or less (62%), incomes less than $25,000 (59%), and women (59%).
Oregonians continue to be worried about the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
Other groups that are generally more worried are voters of color (82%), those ages 18-29 (76%), college graduates (75%), and women (71%). Groups somewhat less worried are those ages 45-64 (61%) and those with a high school degree or less (61%).
3 in 4 voters believe that the spread of COVID-19 in their communities is either staying about the same or getting better. Just 20% think that it is getting worse.
Despite little change in Oregonians’ worry about COVID-19, the vast majority do not think the spread of the virus is getting worse. And there is little difference by area of the state, with just 18% of voters in the Portland metro area and Willamette Valley, and 24% in the rest of the state, believing that the spread is getting worse.
A majority of Oregon voters approve of how Governor Brown, local elected officials, and local school districts are responding to COVID-19, while most disapprove of President Trump’s response.
Voters’ assessments of how elected leaders are responding to COVID-19 have become increasingly partisan. Oregon Democrats, for example, largely approve of Brown’s response (79%) and disapprove of Trump’s (89%), while Republican’s approve of the president’s response (86%) but disapprove of the governor’s (78%).
With the recent start of the school year, and nearly all students attending remotely, perhaps the more interesting finding is that 57% of Oregon voters approve of the way that their local school district has responded to COVID-19. The difference between parents and those without children is small (and not statistically significant) but voters with kids at home are somewhat more likely to approve (63%) than those without children (54%).
Pharmaceutical companies are one of Americans most disliked institutions. Yet, there is also great hope that an effective and widely available COVID-19 vaccine can put an end to the ongoing pandemic and allow us to return to normal life.
With these conflicting feelings, 46% of Oregon voters approve of pharmaceutical companies’ COVID-19 response, 36% disapprove, and 17% are unsure. Unlike views of political leaders, there is little difference by political party or presidential candidate support. The largest differences are by age with an 18-point gap in approval between younger and older voters. Specifically, 39% of voters ages 18-29 approve of pharmaceutical companies’ response versus 57% of voters ages 65+.
Research Methodology: The online survey consisted of 502 Oregon voters and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. This is a sufficient sample size to assess Oregonians’ opinions generally and to review findings by multiple subgroups.
Respondents were contacted by using a professionally maintained online panel. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by gender, age, area of the state, political party and education to reflect the profile of the November general election turnout.
Statement of Limitations: Any sampling of opinions or attitudes is subject to a margin of error. The margin of error is a standard statistical calculation that represents differences between the sample and total population at a confidence interval, or probability, calculated to be 95%. This means that there is a 95% probability that the sample taken for this study would fall within the stated margin of error if compared with the results achieved from surveying the entire population. This survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, is ±4.4%.
DHM Research: The research was conducted by DHM Research, an independent and nonpartisan public opinion research firm based in Portland, Oregon. DHM is a Certified B Corporation.