Economy, Pessimism and the General Election

Oregon decision-makers maintain a “bearish” outlook about the direction of the state and Oregon’s economy. While there is a silver lining – nearly half expect their own business performance to improve during the next year – the pessimistic mood may impact the outcome of the November general election.

An online survey of 822 Oregon Business magazine readers conducted by CFM/Oregon Business in May 2010 shows pessimism continues to dominate the mood of Oregon decision-makers.

When asked which direction the state was headed, 53 percent said Oregon was on the wrong track compared to 25 percent who said it was going in the right direction. You would have to go back to August 2005 to find a time when there were more optimists (45 percent) than pessimists (36 percent).

Decision-makers also have a dour outlook about Oregon’s economy. While 37 percent expect the state’s economy to improve during the next year, 40 percent expect no change to staggering economic conditions and 20 percent think the economy will get worse.

At least there is a bright spot when it comes to the outlook for individual businesses. Nearly half (47 percent) of Oregon decision-makers expect their own business to improve during the next year, compared to 35 percent who expect no change and 14 percent who expect conditions to worsen. Optimistic opinions about the direction of businesses have increased seven points since September 2006.

Overall, this dark mood should have Democrats in general, and incumbents specifically, worried about the general election. Pessimism drove change in the White House and Congress in the 2008 general election. Oregon’s and the nation’s economy have not improved during the past 18 months. In a few weeks, voters will have to decide whether to give Democrats more time or make another change in leadership.