Midterm elections 2022: Here are the issues Oregon voters care about the most
As the country inches closer to Election Day, voters are honing in on issues that may decide the fate of Congress and several state governments in November.
The Washington Examiner is tracking which issues are on the top of voters’ minds as they prepare to head to the polls, particularly in key battleground states that could bring a shift in power to the federal government. Specifically, we’re tracking how voters are researching our top five issues — abortion, crime, education, inflation, and taxes — and how these interests fluctuate as we get closer to Election Day.
MIDTERMS 2022: TRACKING THE ISSUES THAT MATTER TO VOTERS AHEAD OF ELECTION DAY
Below, you can track the interest in Oregon in each of our key issues on a rolling 30-day basis. The Washington Examiner will be updating this page as interests and voting concerns change.
Key races we’re watching in the state:
Oregon has been attracting national attention for a handful of its midterm races as the Democratic stronghold has become a beacon of hope for Republicans in some districts.
Notably, the newly drawn 6th Congressional District that was once considered to be a safe Democratic seat may end up being up for grabs after election forecasters shifted the race from leaning likely Democratic to a toss-up.
Democrats approved new congressional boundaries for the district last year thinking the geographical make-up of Salem and Portland, which both overwhelmingly supported President Joe Biden in 2020, would solidify Democrats’ chances of winning. However, recent polling shows Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas struggling against GOP candidate Mike Erickson.
Further down the ballot, the state’s governor’s race has also been deemed a toss-up by election forecasters after third-party candidate former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, a onetime Democrat, has shaken up the race between Republican contender Christine Drazan and Democrat Tina Kotek. Despite being a Democratic stronghold, Drazan has had a surprisingly strong performance, prompting Republican groups to pour money into the race to score an upset victory.
Education emerged as the top-researched issue among Oregon voters in mid-September and alternated with crime as the No. 1 priority as the weeks stretched into mid-October, according to internet searches recorded and analyzed by Google Trends.
The issue has especially taken center stage in the state’s governor’s race, as whoever takes over the seat will have a direct hand over the public education system. Drazan has voiced support for policies elevating parent choice in schools as well as increasing transparency in school curriculum.
Meanwhile, Kotek has advocated additional funding for school programs to go toward addressing educational disparities, reducing class sizes, and prioritizing mental health issues.
The issue of taxes had varied interest among Oregon voters over the last month, spiking only a handful of times in late September and early October. Internet searches related to taxes spiked on Sept. 23 and 29, as well as Oct. 4 and 11 in tandem with increased interest in education — likely having to do with Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.
The forgiveness plan described parameters for who would be eligible for student loan cancellation, noting borrowers will need to earn under $125,000 individually or $250,000 as a household.
Almost 500,000 Oregonians are eligible for relief from Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. More than half of these could receive up to $20,000 because they received Pell Grants.
Inflation remained one of the lowest-searched topics over the last month before receiving a spike in interest on Oct. 13, catapulting it to No. 3.
The issue also had a number of spikes throughout early October, possibly relating to the release of the consumer price index report showing inflation rates slightly decreased in August, with prices rising 8.3% compared to the year before. The numbers were higher than expected but still a decline from July’s numbers, which showed an 8.5% increase.
Republicans have long focused on inflation as a key voter concern in the midterm election cycle, pointing to soaring inflation rates under Biden. However, the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act gave the Democrats a response to voters’ concerns and forced Republicans to formulate new strategies.
Crime emerged as a top issue among Oregon voters over the last month, competing with education as the No. 1 issue at times before falling to No. 4 as of Oct. 13.
The issue of crime has become a focal point of the governor’s race as Republican Drazan and third-party Johnson seek to knock Kotek, who was formerly the state’s House speaker until earlier this year, for rising crime rates in the state. The two challengers have hit the Democrat for rising crime and homelessness rates in the state, which have reached record-breaking levels this year.
Republicans have sought to paint Democrats as being too “soft on crime” throughout the midterm cycle, and the party may have an advantage because it is typically considered to be better at handling crime, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from April.
Abortion has also emerged as a high-profile issue among Oregon voters, falling to become the least-researched issue as of Oct. 13.
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The issue has especially taken center stage in the all-female governor’s race despite the fact abortion law in Oregon has long been considered settled. Kotek has run on a pro-abortion rights campaign, seeking to paint her two opponents as extremists who would eliminate the right to the procedure in the state.
Drazan has mostly steered away from talking about abortion on the campaign trail, mostly focusing on the economy and crime. However, she has vowed to veto any legislation that would “push Oregon further outside the mainstream.”