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OPB Poll: Race, Economics And What Do You Think Of Your Neighbors


Two new polls from OPB find that a good percentage of Northwesterners don’t think race relations have changed much since the 1960s. The polls also looked at the economy and what Washingtonians and Oregonians think about each other.

One of the poll participants was Jacy De Jong, a retired postal worker, who lives in Sunriver.  Like 29 percent of Northwesterners, she responded to the poll by saying there hasn’t been much real progress on race relations in 50 years.

“There are a lot of Blacks who have just blossomed in different states and I think Oregon is one of them. I can’t remember making fun of them when we were kids, you know how kids are. And we had a few families where I grew up, just neat people. On the other hand we have the Mexicans and I know I lived next door to some for about two and a half years. And all I ever heard their kids talking about was stealing my bike,” De Jong said.

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Heidi Nielsen/OPB

The poll found that 62 percent of registered voters in Oregon and Washington think there’s been a lot of real progress in getting rid of racial discrimination.

Ramiro Teran is a young Latino living in Ontario, who’s trying to find work.  He says race is still a issue.

“I live in a small town so everybody pretty much knows everybody. I mean you’ve seen everybody at least once. So I don’t really notice it here but I do think it’s still an issue in bigger cities because the way some races are portrayed on TV and stuff it’s still like it used to be, sort of,” Teran said.

John Horvick of DHM Research conducted the poll and says Republicans and rural voters tend to see more advances  than Democrats and urban voters do.

“I’m struggling as a pollster and a citizen to understand what that means. But it is notable to me that we have 40 percent who reflect back on the 1960s and look at today and don’t feel that we’ve made progress as a country,” Horvick said.

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Click for larger image.

Heidi Nielsen/OPB

The polls had a margin of error of 4.9 percent. There were 800 people surveyed between September 4 and 7 — after the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

A national poll done for CBS before the protests found that 78 percent of Americans felt there had been real progress in race relations.

OPB’s polls also asked whether people felt that things were headed generally in the right or wrong direction. In Oregon, 48 percent chose the right direction. In Washington, it was 46 percent.

“In the late 1990s early 2000, we would see right direction numbers in the low 60s. It plumbetted immediately after September 11th and then the start of the recession. And for the last 12 or 13 years now it’s hovered in the low 40s to upper 40s through that whole period. So if you think about all the things that have happened across Oregon, across the country, that number has barely budged at all. So maybe there’s a little bit of evidence now that things are turning. Maybe.”

On the lighter side, residents of Washington and Oregon were asked what stood out about the other state. It was an open-ended question. Oregonians named Washington’s sales tax, the Space Needle, and good fishing. And pollster Horvick says 15 percent mentioned legalized pot.

Seattle's Space Needle is one thing Oregonians mention when they think about their neighbors to the north.

Seattle's Space Needle is one thing Oregonians mention when they think about their neighbors to the north.

Library of Congress

“I was struck by the fact that marijuana legialization was one of the top things that Oregonians thought about Washington. You know it’s going to be on the ballot here and it’s certainly been in the news a lot, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising. But of all the things they could think about, one of the top things that they thought about was marijuana legalization,” Horvick said.

So what do Washingtonians think of their southern cousins?

Thery’re a bunch of hippies who don’t pay sales tax, won’t allow small businesses to do what they want, and are socialistic.  One respondent went so far as to call Oregonians “communistic bastards.”

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