DHM Research

2022: Oregonians head into a pivotal election year in a sour mood 

DHM Panel

January 2022 

2022 is setting up to be a pivotal year in Oregon politics and government. The state picked up a sixth congressional district and for the first time in two decades there is a wide-open race for governor with no incumbent-or former governor-running.

2022 is also an inflection point for broader political, economic and health reasons. President Biden has passed two major pieces of legislation but he is struggling to secure support for his signature Build Back Better initiative. There are record job openings and unemployment has fallen quickly, but inflation is rising and people are increasingly worried about their personal finances. And we are now heading into the third year of Covid-19, with the country still divided about the best way forward.

It is in this context that we checked in with Oregonians. We asked how they are feeling about the direction of the state, the economy and their personal finances, Covid-19, and about the 2022 gubernatorial election.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • A majority (54%) now say that Oregon is off on the wrong track.
  • 63% of Oregonians are worried about their personal financial situations, which is up 15 points since last spring. Worry has increased the most among Oregonians who are older, more educated, and have higher incomes.
  • Oregonians’ are not pleased with Governor Brown or President Biden. Just 33% have a positive impression of Brown and 42% feel positive about Biden, which are lows for both.
  • Looking ahead, Oregonians say the most important issues in the upcoming gubernatorial election are the cost of living, homelessness, crime, and healthcare. Democrats are also highly concerned about climate change, while Republicans put an additional priority on taxes and immigration.
  • In a head-to-head contest for governor between the two major parties only, more Oregonians would vote for the Democrat (40%) than the Republican (31%).
  • Betsy Johnson is running for governor as a non-affiliated candidate. The survey asked about her four times. She has a lead when voters are presented with Johnson’s own campaign messaging about “leading from the center” and putting “Oregon ahead of narrow partisan politics.” However, she falls back into third place when voters learn about her voting record in the legislature and who is funding her campaign.
Chart showing that wrong track perceptions are up 9% points since September 2021.