Oregon Values and Beliefs Examined

Tom Bowerman of PolicyInteractive is hoping that research from the 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs Survey will help stir a cultural conversation. Bowerman founded PolicyInteractive in order to understand general public opinions about global climate change and how it may influence our future, but the OVB survey also addressed education, conservation, health, crime, public transportation, economic development and taxes. Bowerman, along with Adam Davis of DHM Research, will be discussing the survey and its findings at the Jan. 10 City Club of Eugene meeting.

The 2013 survey gathered the views of more than 9,000 Oregonians from all parts of the state and all walks of life, Bowerman says. He adds that while you can’t ask 200 questions and expect to change the world, a survey like this can be used as a fulcrum for change. The OVB survey was previously conducted in 1992 and 2002.

Bowerman cites the failed 1000 Friends of Oregon campaign to stop Measure 37 as the original incentive for his research and the founding of PolicyInteractive. Measure 37 was a land use bill that essentially made property owners exempt from many rules against developing their property. He says opponents outspent Measure 37 proponents but still lost by 20 percent. “This is crazy,” Bowerman says. “If our intelligence is that bad, we are doing something wrong.”

Bowerman says the biggest puzzle that arises from the survey results is why we have “great values as a culture, but those values are not always reflected in our behavior.”

Among the findings are that 86 percent of Oregonians feel that taxes are necessary to pay for the common good, 57 percent feel that environmental protection is more important than economic growth, 70 percent feel that all people should have equal access to a basic level of health care, 66 percent feel that criminals should be rehabilitated through counseling and job training whenever possible and 81 percent feel that K-12 education is a top concern. Yet schools have trouble passing bond measures, and more money is put into jails than into rehabilitation.

The OVB survey used landline, cell phone and online interviewing and conducted a minimum of 300 interviews in each of five geographic regions of the state.

Bowerman and Davis will speak to City Club at noon Jan. 10 at the Downtown Athletic Club in the third floor ballroom. Admission is $5, and members attend free. City Club airs on KLCC Mondays at 6:30 pm.