POLL: Homelessness a top concern; 1 in 4 voters feeling worse off



POLL: Homelessness a top concern; 1 in 4 voters feeling worse off

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Today, the Portland Business Alliance released the results of a public opinion poll, conducted by DHM Research, designed to better understand the attitudes of voters throughout the region about key concerns, jobs and the economy.

KEY FINDINGS: 

  • Homelessness remains a primary concern for voters in the region.
  • Voters see good economic opportunity in the Portland region. However, even with low unemployment, about 1 in 4 are experiencing difficulties or feeling worse off than they were two years ago.
  • A majority support replacing the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River.
  • A majority of voters support a measure to provide homeless services.
  • Support for both Metro’s transportation measure and a measure for expanded preschool is lower when voters consider a scenario with multiple measures on the November ballot.

SURVEY DETAILS

Each year, the Portland Business Alliance contracts with DHM Research to survey voters and better understand the shared experience of those who live here.

From Jan. 6 to Jan. 12, 2020, DHM Research conducted a hybrid survey of voters in the region. The purpose of the survey was to track opinions about the economy, jobs and community issues over time, as well as to measure support for policy proposals.

The hybrid survey consisted of 518 registered voters and took approximately 17 minutes to complete. The sample included 261 voters in the City of Portland, and 257 voters from Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties who do not live within the City of Portland boundary.


HOMELESSNESS

Homelessness remains a primary concern in the tri-county region.



Concern about homelessness leveled off this year. One-third of voters say, in an open-ended format, that homelessness is the biggest issue our area faces at this time (30%). More City of Portland voters say homelessness is the biggest issue (43% compared to 22% in the rest of the region). Moreover, concern about homelessness overshadows other concerns in the City of Portland. The second highest concern, affordable housing, is arguably related to homelessness as well and is mentioned by fewer than half as many voters (15%). Homelessness is important in the rest of the tri-county region, but not necessarily so clearly a shared concern. Rather, homelessness and traffic are nearly tied as the biggest concerns (mentioned by 22% and 19% of voters, respectively).
 

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Voters see good economic opportunity in the Portland region. Even with low unemployment, however, about 1 in 4 are experiencing difficulties or feeling worse off than they were two years ago.



A majority of voters say economic opportunities in the Portland region are good or very good (67%). Most describe their households as doing okay (44%) or living comfortably (29%). Furthermore, looking back, most say they are doing about the same as they were two years ago (46%) or doing better (29%). Nonetheless, about 1 in 4 have fewer positive experiences: 27% are just getting by or finding it difficult to get by, and 24% are worse off than they were two years ago. Notably, there is a clear link between economic well-being and educational opportunities. Voters without any college education are more likely to be having difficulties getting by and more likely to be worse off.

In the current economy, voters see wages as key to economic prosperity. When asked to explain their relative prosperity, voters who say they were doing okay or living comfortably primarily mention having adequate wages (62%). On the flipside, those who are just getting by, point to low wages as the reason (35%). The most financially vulnerable group, however, mention cost of housing (32%), cost of living (23%), and working less than they want to (19%), these results suggest that low economic well-being in the region may be characterized by underemployment rather than low wages alone.

INTERSTATE BRIDGE

A majority support replacing the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River.


 

BALLOT MEASURE PROPOSALS

Support for both Metro’s transportation measure and a measure for expanded preschool is lower when voters consider a scenario with multiple measures on the November ballot.





DHM Research presented voters with a general description of three potential measures: Metro’s transportation measure, a homeless services proposal, and, in Multnomah County, an expanded preschool proposal. Each measure enjoyed majority support during the initial general presentation. Support dropped from 59% to 40% for the transportation measure once voters heard the proposed dollar amount ($3 billion) and the mix of potential revenue sources. Hearing the proposed dollar amount and revenue sources had little impact on support for either the homeless services measure (moved from 62% to 58% support) or the expanded preschool measure (moved from 66% support to 68% support).

When researchers ask voters to consider the mix of measures, however, only the homeless services measure enjoys a slim majority support (54%). Forty-nine percent of tri-county voters support the transportation measure and 46% of Multnomah County voters support the expanded preschool measure.

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The Portland Business Alliance
The Portland Business Alliance is Greater Portland’s Chamber of Commerce. With nearly 1,900 members, the Alliance strives to promote and foster an environment in the Portland region that attracts, supports and retains private-sector jobs, spurs economic vitality and enables quality educational opportunities for the region's residents. Learn more at 
www.portlandalliance.com.