Is Salem, Oregon a Liberal City?

State capitals and large cities are known for being liberal. Salem is not an exception to these norms but is not as staunchly liberal as Portland or Eugene. The city has a Democratic majority, but it is not overwhelmingly strong.

Salem, Oregon is a fairly liberal city but is not as strongly rooted in these values as many larger cities. There are conservative views, with a liberal majority. This is shown in voting statistics, financial donations, elected government officials, environmental efforts, and other practices.

Salem, Oregon is a liberal city, but it can be important to see in what ways a city is liberal and which liberal views and practices are given the strongest support. These vary from city to city, even within the same state!

Recent Voting Statistics

In the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic party took a narrow victory in Marion county. Among Salem voters, 48.9% voted for the Democratic candidate, beating the Republican’s 47.7% with only a 1.2% lead! The remaining 3.4% of the city’s participants in the election voted Independent.

This shows a Democratic majority in the city, but they do not have an incredibly large lead. There is a high percentage of voters who leaned Republican. Surprisingly enough, Marion County has voted Republican in four of the last six Presidential elections! There are more liberal views in the city than conservative views, but the liberal majority is not incredibly strong.

Financial Contributions to Political Campaigns

By looking into a city’s financial contributions, we can see more details about the population’s political standing. By comparing which side of the political spectrum gets more money, we can see that more people pay the party that is in power. And, the party that is close to or secondary in the city will also receive a great amount of money. In Salem, Oregon, you will see that though the liberals get more donations, conservatives get plenty of donations as well for their needs and campaigning.

In data from 2018 through 2021, there were significantly more contributions and higher sums donated to Democratic and liberal campaigns than opposing conservative or Republican opponents in the city of Salem. The Democratic Party and liberal campaigns received a total of 18,969 contributions making a total of $944,181 in this four-year period, with an average of $50 per contribution. The Republican party and conservative campaigns received a total of 2,631 contributions totaling $435,230 and an average of $165 per contribution in the same time period.

Despite the tight voting statistics, the city remains mostly liberal. This is easily shown through the financial contributions of the last four years. Democratic and liberal campaigns received 16,338 more contributions and $508,931 more than their Republican opponents in the same time span.

In Salem, the Democrats are more consistent with holding office. Overall, there are a lot of Republicans as well that can maybe change the city in the next decade, but the voting patterns are pretty strong so that may never happen. But, unlike other Oregon cities, Salem has a better fighting chance if they continue to vote and donate to their cause.

Physician-Assisted Suicide

Liberals support the legal practice of physician-assisted suicide. This allows doctors to prescribe medications to terminally ill patients who have been given a life sentence of six months or less and that want to end their lives more quickly.

Oregon was the first of ten statesOpens in a new tab. that legalized physician-assisted suicides. In Oregon, the “Death with Dignity Act” legalized the practice on October 27, 1997. The other nine that followed included the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington, Maine, Montana, California, and Colorado. All of these states are known as liberal and have high Democratic populations. Doctors in these states are safe from prosecution for prescribing these medications to terminally ill patients who voluntarily administer the drugs.

The state has not only legalized this practice, but they were also the forerunners of physician-assisted suicides and continue to prescribe these medications that quicken the death of patients. This is a practice largely discouraged and opposed by Republicans, showing that Salem and Oregon residents have strong liberal views in this area. This is a law that makes this area and state very much a liberal area.

Abortion Views

The original ruling in the Supreme Court Case of Roe v Wade made abortions legal in every state in the US. In June of 2022, the Supreme Court overturned this case. Each state is now able to vote and decide whether it will be legalized within that state’s borders. Many states place trigger laws that will now ban abortions because this decision was overturned. Oregon, however, has a law in place that will do just the opposite, and protect legal abortion rights for women in the state.

With Oregon being a liberal state and Salem having a good mix of both liberal and conservative views, you can expect this area to have some clash about the overturning.

When the Supreme Court’s announcement was made, protesters around the nation gathered together in opposition to the change. Hundreds of protestorsOpens in a new tab. had already gathered in Salem at the Oregon state capital building to promote legal abortion rights for women.

When the announcement was made, many thought that it meant abortions were illegal. And though conservatives would love that, it was actually made part of the state power. Now each state can decide what they want to do as a whole, and the states that are left-leaning will be keeping abortions, like in Oregon. Salem will have many people who are against abortion and will vote for people who will make the changes they want, but the current standing is more liberal.

High Tax Rates

One sign of strong liberalism in an area is shown through higher overall tax rates. Liberals generally support higher taxes because they need more finances to allow for the strong and involved government they work to obtain. Whereas conservatives support citizens having more of their own earnings, therefore resulting in lower taxes. So, with this population being majority liberal, you can expect to hear about higher taxes.

The high tax rates for citizens in Salem, Oregon are likely due to the liberal majority in voting. It is not as high as other hardcore liberal states and cities have their taxes between 8% and 9%, but it is higher than conservative states.

According to US NewsOpens in a new tab., in 2021, Oregon has the highest tax-income burden of any state in the nation. This was calculated by pairing the effective income tax rate of individuals (23.37%), with the state effective tax rate (7%). In comparison to the sum of other states’ income and effective tax rates, Oregon beat out all competing states, which is an indication of the state’s liberal support.

LGBTQ+ Community and Support

In May of 2014, Oregon was the nation’s 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage. This is one of many steps that have led Oregon and its largest cities to become strong supporters of the LGBTQ+ community and protecting human rights for these individuals. The state has maintained a high standard of support and care for these individuals for years and continues with many efforts today.

The US StatesmanOpens in a new tab. reports that of Oregon’s largest cities, Salem ranked the highest on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Municipal Equality Index with a score of 90, with the competitor cities of Portland and Eugene ranking only 88 and 86 respectively on the same scale. This scale measures the support and rights provided and protected for these individuals within the city. It is a strong indication of the city’s LGBTQ+ residents and supporters.

There are a variety of organizations in the city of SalemOpens in a new tab. that work for the rights and protection of LGBTQ+ individuals within the city. Some of the most prominent names include Basic Rights Oregon, LGBTQ Meetup Salem, Salem Queer Womxn, and PFLAG SalemOpens in a new tab. (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Salem also organized a Human Rights and Relations Advisory Commission in 1967 that has worked to place anti-discrimination laws within the city code.

In addition to anti-discrimination and the obtaining of rights for LGTBQ+ citizens, Salem is also home to many groups, clubs, and activities for LGBTQ+ community members. A few of these eventsOpens in a new tab. are the LGBTQ Book Club, meetings for the Roadmap to Conscious Lesbian Dating and Lasting Love group, Queer Femmes, Virtual Queer Sewing Circle, Online LGBTQ Coming Out group meetings, Online 20-somethings group gatherings, and more.

Salem is also known to host a large variety of activities, gatherings, and events for the LGBTQ+ community for the celebration of pride month in June. The Salem ReporterOpens in a new tab. lists an itinerary and speaks of the large amount of support that the activities received.

Overall, Salem has a clear and strong tradition of support for these individuals and their community. This type of united strength from a community for LGBTQ+ members is often shown when a city has strong liberal values. Salem is a liberal city and shows this strength in numbers through its consistent and strong support of LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, as well as various other policies that have been put in place.

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Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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