Portland Voters Are Angry. That’s a Bad Sign for Incumbents This Month.

The people most likely to vote in a primary—retirees on a fixed income—are also the people most alarmed at the state of the economy.

Over the past two months, Willamette Week has published cover stories on inflation—the sudden decrease in what a dollar can buy—and Portland’s housing market, where a quarter of a million dollars won’t get you very much. The Dive podcast has used those stories to spur enlightening conversations on both inflation and home prices.

Turns out, those two problems are also the biggest concerns for voters—and could play an outsized role in the May election.

This week, WW published its guide to the May 17 primary. Dozens of candidates sat for interviews with Willamette Week’s editorial staff in hopes of garnering an endorsement from the paper.

Over the course of about a month, the editorial board of WW conducted over 30 interviews with candidates. I urge you to click on some of the videos so you can see for yourself how some of these folks handled questions both probing and basic from WW’s investigative journalists.

Today on the Dive podcast we’re talking to Aaron Mesh, the news editor who grilled this season’s candidates as part of what he called “absolutely a job interview.” Mesh describes the backlash brewing among Portland voters, and how the newsroom weighs whether the public has overreacted.

Later we’ll be joined by John Horvick, whose polling firm DHM Research provided data that outlines where the electorate is politically, fiscally, and emotionally. He points out that the people most likely to vote in a primary—retirees on a fixed income—are also the people most alarmed at the state of the economy, because inflation is a bigger problem for them than for young people who can seek a better-paying job.

The data aggregated by DHM Research certainly paints an interesting picture of not just where we’re at but also how we got here, and maybe how we can move forward. Maybe.

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