PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new survey shows Oregonians are opposed to ‘moving the border’ by a slim majority.
In the new poll conducted by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, 1,400 Oregonians from across the state shared their thoughts on whether Oregon counties should be allowed to join Idaho if voters approve. The statewide survey took place between June 8 and 14, 2021.
Despite gaining support in rural areas, the study showed by a small margin most Oregonians were opposed to moving the border and even more (two-thirds of Oregonians) believed a border shift is unlikely to occur.
“What surprised us most was the broad support and understanding for Oregonians who feel like they’re not very well represented in our state legislature,” explained Amaury Vogel, Associate Executive Director at the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. “People from all over the state recognized that this is an issue that’s causing division and resentment and they have sympathy for these people.”
The poll results reflect a growing divide among Oregonians with a narrow majority of 42% opposing the concept, 38% in favor, and 20% ‘unsure.’ But Vogel claims the level of empathy expressed for those with differing opinions was encouraging. “They see that these people maybe aren’t the majority and don’t feel as represented in the legislature — but they still feel like those opinions are valuable in the conversation we are having about the future of our state.”
A Multnomah County female resident wrote this in her survey response: “The few people who don’t agree with the liberal majority don’t speak up because they’ll get shouted down by the liberal majority, and we think we’re such nice people. We need to move toward a culture where we value all the voices and respect people as people regardless of their opinions. The divides in this country could be part of what brings it down someday and that would be tragic.”
Beyond promoting division, those who opposed the concept cited increased taxes and the loss of economic benefits provided by the cannabis industry — still prohibited in Idaho — as some of the major draw backs.
“The cannabis industry has economically impacted a lot of the counties that would be moved,” said Vogel. “Not only has Idaho not legalized marijuana, they’ve made an effort to make it part of their state constitution that it wouldn’t be legalized. So that could really hurt some of those agricultural communities that are already hurting.”
According to the poll, rural residents were more likely to support the move than residents within the Portland and Willamette Valley regions, with 44% stating counties should be allowed to join Idaho and 40% in opposition. Rural residents were also more likely to believe shifting the border to be possible than urban residents.
Regardless of where residents lived, an overwhelming concern for what would happen to the counties after a potential border move proved to be a common thread among many surveyed subjects.
“We in these counties are rural, spread out, and low average incomes,” a female poll candidate from Baker County wrote. “The taxes required to maintain and improve the infrastructure required for such vast and lowly populated areas can’t be generated by the population in these counties alone. Where will Idaho get the additional resources? If from these counties, the tax rates will skyrocket.”
The Oregon Values and Belief Center told KOIN 6 News this survey was conducted ‘to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.’ Oregonians looking to weigh in on important issues, like the ‘Greater Idaho’ movement, can join their panel at Oregon Values and Beliefs Center