Authors Posts by Bill Shapard

Bill Shapard

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Bill is the founder of SoonerPoll.com and ShapardResearch, a full service market research firm based in Oklahoma City. Bill began his career in polling after working on a major campaign in Oklahoma from 1996 until founding SoonerPoll in 2004. Under Bill’s leadership, SoonerPoll has become the leading public opinion polling company in the state of Oklahoma conducting more public opinion polls for Oklahoma news media than all other pollsters combined since 2006. Bill’s commitment to go above and beyond the AAPOR ethical guidelines of minimum disclosure ensures that SoonerPoll produces quality results every time. Bill has lectured at Oklahoma State University on developing polling methodologies, data collection processes, and advanced likely voter sampling techniques. Bill also serves as an on-air political commentator for Oklahoma television stations.

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At the end of January, we released the results of a poll about school choice issues, Oklahomans favor various methods of giving parents more control over their child’s education.  The poll tested various methods of providing parents with more choice in their child’s education, which is an issue before the state legislature this session.  It used straight forward language, simple explanations, and did not try to change the opinions of poll respondents during the interview.

Plus, we released the question wording and question order, the methodology used, and even exceeded minimal disclosure requirements, as set out by the AAPOR, with a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report, which few pollsters in the nation ever release.

A similar poll conducted by the Tarrance Group, a national firm used by Governor Mary Fallin and U.S. Senator James Lankford, found similar results to our poll.

Then along came this poll from Public Opinion Strategies (POS) that was released on Monday.  Needless to say, it’s results were the opposite of what the Tarrance poll and ours both found.

So why the difference in results?

First of all, the POS poll is an outlier when looking at polling results on school choice in other very red states like Oklahoma, and even in some blue states.

Voters in Mississippi, for example, overwhelmingly support school vouchers: 74 percent favor versus 20 percent who oppose (+54 percentage point favor-oppose gap). Nearly seven out of ten voters in New Jersey, two out of three voters in New York, and about six out of ten voters in Alabama and Arkansas support school vouchers. The smallest favor-oppose gap is +21 percentage points in Kansas, where 57 percent favor and 36 percent oppose vouchers.

And just across the Red River, 66 percent of voters in Texas favor a school voucher program.

Even national polling shows a growing momentum for giving parents greater choice in their child’s education.

So, it’s a very hard sell to say that Oklahomans, in such a red state that’s demographically similar to the surrounding states of Texas, Kansas or Arkansas, would be so contrary to ALL of these polls.

Secondly, when considering the POS poll, the pollster did not release the question wording, the question order, topline or cross-tabulated results, or even a methodology description — while our poll and all of the polls with links above exceeded the disclosure requirements for public opinion polls.

Why?  Perhaps it’s because the poll was not designed to measure current public opinion, but change it.

One good example is in their very brief release, the phrase: “once they learn more.”  This is code from a partisan pollster, such as POS, that the questions were written in such a way to try and “educate” the poll respondent, usually in such a way to get the result that they wanted for their clients, which in this case are organizations that have a vested interest in seeing that parents are NOT given choice in their child’s education.

This is pure conjuncture on my part at this point based on limited information, since the pollster didn’t even meet our own industry’s minimal requirements of public disclosure.  Many times, when a pollster doesn’t disclose, it’s a tell-tale sign that the pollster knows that any independent evaluation of his or her poll would result in such conclusions.  This is why disclosure is so important.

At SoonerPoll, our goal is always to be as transparent with our work as possible.  In fact, earlier this year we announced that we would provide a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report with every publicly released poll, some of the most advanced and in-depth disclosure in public opinion polling to date.

Furthermore, as Oklahoma’s only independent non-partisan pollster, it has never been our goal to measure a poll respondent’s opinion during the interview “once they’ve learned more.”

Poll results from different pollsters will always vary, but not like this.  This POS poll is an example of why people don’t trust pollsters.

Hopefully, Oklahomans will also see the differences in these polls once they’ve learned more.

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SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, asked likely voters in the State of Oklahoma their opinions toward healthcare insurance and the coverage of cancer therapies, specifically proton radiation therapy. The scientific study was conducted from November 17-24, 2014 with 302 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a dual frame of both landline telephone and cell phones. The sample was weighted by age and congressional district, then stratified using a model of likely voters. The poll was commissioned by ProCure Proton Therapy Center of Oklahoma City.

The sample reflected the traditional demographical profile of the Oklahoma likely voter with roughly half of respondents identifying as conservative and attending religious services once or more per week.  The study has a Margin of Error (MoE) of ± 5.64 percent.

Here are the key take-aways:

  • Oklahoma likely voters would overwhelmingly support legislation (87.6%) requiring health insurance companies to cover proton therapy for clinically appropriate patients in Oklahoma.
    • 80% of Republicans would “Strongly support” this legislation, with an even greater percentage of Democrats (84.5%) and Independents (97.8%) indicating this as well.
  • Another large majority of Oklahoma likely voters (87.4%) believe that health insurance companies should be required BY LAW to cover medical treatments that offer a patient the least risk of complications, both short and long term, no matter the cost.
  • And, they should be required BY LAW (85%) to approve the newest and most effective medical treatments even if it costs more.
  • 91% believe Oklahoma doctors should make the decisions on medical treatments regarding their Oklahoma patients.
  • Voters also believe (83.8%) that health insurance companies should be required BY LAW to approve any and all treatments that can be shown to offer better health, comfort, and potential longevity, improving a patient’s quality of life.
  • 91% DISAGREE that health insurance companies should be allowed to DENY medical treatment in order to keep costs down.
  • Almost all of Oklahoma likely voters believe it is important that Oklahoma remain on the cutting edge of cancer therapy and research. 9 out of 10 voters indicated they would be likely to travel out of state if they could not receive the best cancer care here in Oklahoma.  There was no significant difference between party affiliation and how the questions were answered for this study.
  • A considerable majority of Oklahoma likely voters (72%) also expressed that they would be LESS likely to vote for an Oklahoma senator or representative if they knew the legislator voted AGAINST legislation requiring insurance carriers to cover proton therapy for clinically appropriate patients.
    • Almost 70% of Republicans would be less likely to vote for a legislator if they voted against this legislation, with an even greater percentage of Democrats and Independents indicating this as well.

 

About the Poll

The poll of 303 likely voters in Oklahoma was commissioned and conducted Nov 17-24, 2014 by live interviewer and included 71 cellphone and 232 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.64 percentage points.

Poll results were weighted by age and congressional district, stratified by Oklahoma likely voters statewide. This poll conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The poll’s Call Disposition and Rate Calculation report can be viewed here.

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When we started polling more than ten years ago, there was no one talking about an independent evaluation of pollsters and their performance.  In fact, we began evaluating our own performance with that of other pollsters who polled in the same campaigns back in 2004, using some metrics that dated back to President Truman’s reelection.

Then Nate Silver came along.  Just before the 2014 general election, his FiveThirtyEight blog produced an in-depth evaluation of the performance of over 330 pollsters all over the nation, and SoonerPoll was rated the best pollster among all other pollsters based in the state of Oklahoma.  At 30th overall, SoonerPoll was also in the top ten percent of the best pollsters in the nation.

FiveThirtyEight conducted a more limited evaluation in 2008, 2010 and then again in 2012.  What we like in these evaluations is that SoonerPoll.com improved over the course of those elections, something we are very proud of.

Nate Silver and his team also measured the partisan bias of each pollster and, interestingly, SoonerPoll had a Democrat bias to its results, meaning we favored Democrats more than Republicans in our final results, which is common for pollsters in red states.  Occasionally, we’re accused of favoring Republicans, but the facts speak otherwise.

In coming elections, we may not always be the best pollster in the state, but what our readers and followers can always count on is our dedication to our craft and a continual pursuit of producing the best polling in the state of Oklahoma.

Back to work.

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Once again, SooonerPoll.com will break new ground in providing greater transparency to the public.

Starting 2015, SoonerPoll will be releasing, with every publicly-released poll, a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report.  As a part of a beta test, various polls released in 2013 and 2014 had a corresponding report produced.

The report will detail the aggregate disposition of the calls made during the data collection process of all landline and cell phones in the probability sample built for that particular poll.  From the call disposition, a variety of rate calculations can be produced, from response to cooperation, as well the number of attempts made to the non-connects.

A complete explanation of the report and its parts can be found by clicking here.

“We have always believed that it’s extremely important to provide as much transparency with our polling and data collection methods as possible,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “The disclosure of this information with our polls will constitute some of the greatest transparency, not only in Oklahoma, but in the polling industry in the U.S. to date.”

Standardized definitions for the call disposition and rate calculations come from the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), which has sought to assist its members with providing greater transparency of their polling methods with the public.  SoonerPoll is a member of AAPOR, and an early supporter of the AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative.  Charter membership is currently pending.

A link to the report will be supplied at the end of most poll results releases in the “About the Poll” section of the post, typically in 1-4 days of the release.

 

About SoonerPoll.com

SoonerPoll is Oklahoma’s only independent, non-partisan pollster, conducting and producing more publicly released polling on the opinions of Oklahomans than all other polling firms in the state combined. Founded in 2004, SoonerPoll has been the pollster of record for the state’s second largest newspaper, The Tulsa World, since 2005 and routinely performs polling for News 9 and News on 6, the state’s most watched television news in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

In 2014, Nate Silver’s 538Blog rated 337 pollsters in the nation, and SoonerPoll was rated the BEST pollster in the state of Oklahoma and in the TOP TEN percent of best pollsters in the nation.

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Latest quarterly poll results indicate that President Obama is still very unpopular in Oklahoma, with his combined approval at 29 percent among likely Oklahoma voters.  It’s still not the worst he’s been when, during the last mid-term election year, his approval sat at a rock bottom of just 26 percent.  And, he may just be there again as his approval since last summer has been on a downward trajectory as another mid-term election year approaches.

But the question is, does anybody in Oklahoma, or elsewhere for that matter, care about the president’s approval in our little mid-America state?  The president doesn’t come here often so you could say he doesn’t care about his approval among Oklahomans.   For the better part of four decades, Oklahoma’s electoral votes have been a forgone conclusion, adding to the Electoral College column of any Republican on the ballot.  Oklahoma isn’t an early primary state, so politicos in Washington, DC and political commentators elsewhere really don’t care about the president’s embarrassing showing in our reddest of red states.

Maybe there’s one group that should care:  The Oklahoma Democratic Party.  In yet another mid-term election, state party officials will have to endure all of their candidates, up and down the ballot, being tied to an extremely unpopular and liberal president, whether it’s justified or not.  What some Oklahoma Democrat running in one of the one hundred seats in the State House has to do with a liberal Democratic president they’ve never met would be difficult for anyone to explain.

Yet, the Democrat ‘brand’ in Oklahoma is something they all share — for good or for bad, and the state party isn’t helping themselves much either.  The Oklahoma Democratic Party of the 20th Century was much more conservative and reflective of those values that over half our electorate expresses every time SoonerPoll goes into the field with a poll.  Today, conservative voters and officials have either abandoned the party or been driven out, and the Oklahoma Democratic Party of today doesn’t look anything like the party of David Boren or even Brad Henry, the state’s last Democratic governor.

This isn’t the case, however, in some other former Democratic strongholds in the nation.  West Virginia for example, which has been trending Republican yet is conservative like Oklahoma, elected former Democratic governor Joe Manchin to the U.S. Senate during Obama’s term as president. Manchin ran as a conservative, never distancing himself from his Democratic roots, but rejected the president’s liberal direction and told West Virginians he’d ‘fight against the president when he need to.’

But, this doesn’t seem to be the case for the leaders of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.  Repudiation of the president’s liberal agenda doesn’t seem to be in their dictionary; neither does the word “conservative.”  After a quick search on the Oklahoma Democratic Party website, including its Mission and Constitution, the word “conservative” is not mentioned even one time.

Liberalism, it would appear, is their ideology by choice, and there is nothing wrong with that; unless you are trying to help Democrats win in a conservative state like Oklahoma.  The Democrats, who had dominated state government since statehood, now find themselves with the smallest minority of representatives in state history and, if they continue not to care, they will find themselves with even less in November.

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According to latest SoonerPoll results, Oklahomans are ready to consider marijuana for medicinal purposes and decriminalization. The poll had support for medical marijuana at 71% and support for decriminalization at 57%. The poll did not ask about legalization.

When considering arrest for a marijuana offense, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) said they should be treated instead of jailed.  Under current Oklahoma law, possession of any amount can earn one up to a year in jail for a first offense and from two to 10 years for a second offense. Marijuana sales—of any amount—can earn a sentence of up to life in prison.

The state’s largest cities were the most in support.  In metro Oklahoma City and Tulsa, support for medical marijuana was higher than 75%, and support for decriminalization was at 67% in Tulsa and at 63% in Oklahoma City.

Even Oklahoma’s notoriously conservative Republicans are ready for change. Support for decriminalization came from 53% of Republicans interviewed, lower than the 60% of Democrats and 65% of independents, but still surprising.

“I do hope that the polling results will help legislators feel more comfortable supporting marijuana reform,” said Oklahoma NORML leader Norma Sapp.  “I always encourage people to contact their legislators. I think a statewide lobby day will be called when the need comes.”

Senator Constance Johnston (D-Oklahoma City), who has filed medical marijuana bills for several years now without managing to get a hearing, told the Oklahoma Observer the poll echoed what she had been hearing from constituents.

“I like the results. This is very telling. It confirms what we’re being told across the state,” Johnston said, adding that they could help ease legislators’ worried minds. “The results make you wonder what these elected officials are afraid of,” she said.

The poll of likely voters was conducted between August 28 and September 9, and was commissioned by NORML’s Oklahoma chapter. The margin of error is +/- 4.9%.

Additional poll results, key takeaways, and complete question wording:

Question:  Fifteen states in America have decriminalized the possession of up to once ounce of marijuana for adult possession, meaning they would receive a fine rather than be criminally prosecuted and face possible incarceration.  Do you support or oppose joining these other fifteen states?

  • 57.1% support Oklahoma joining fifteen other states who have decriminalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adult possession, meaning they would receive a find rather than be criminally prosecuted.  34.5% strongly support, while 30.3 strongly oppose.
  • 53.1% of Republicans, 60.3% of Democrats and 64.5% of Independents support joining these fifteen other states, while 70.6% of those identifying themselves as liberal support, 69.5% of moderates and 46.3% of conservatives support this measure.
  • 44.7% of Evangelical Christians support joining these fifteen other states.
  • Tulsa MSA 67.3%, OKC MSA 62.8%, and rest of state 47.9% support joining these fifteen other states.

 

Question:  Oklahoma treat marijuana use as a public health concern, meaning send them to treatment, instead of making it a criminal justice matter?

  • 63.7% of likely voters in Oklahoma believe that Oklahoma should treat marijuana use as a public health concern.
  • 52.1% of those who identify themselves as very conservative agree they should be sent to treatment.
  • 43.9% of those likely voters attending religious services at least one time or more a week chose treatment, and 55.1% of Evangelical Christians chose treatment.

 

Question:  Twenty states now have laws allowing seriously ill patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes with a physician’s recommendation.  Do you support or oppose Oklahoma joining these other twenty states?

  • 71.2% support joining twenty other states who now have laws allowing seriously ill patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes with a physician’s recommendation.  47.4% strongly support and 18.3% strongly oppose this measure.
  • 68.0% of Republicans, 74.6% of Democrats and 68.2% of Independents support this measure.
  • 62.8% of those ages 65 and greater support medical marijuana possession for medical purposes with physician’s recommendation.  Age categories younger than 65 range from 69.2% (18-24) to 80.5% (25-34).
  • Support for medicinal marijuana increases in the rest of the state to 66.4% with Tulsa MSA at 75.2% and Oklahoma City MSA at 75.4%.

 

Question:  Do you think laws regarding whether the use of marijuana is legal or not should be determined by the federal government, or left to each individual state government to decide?

  • An overwhelming majority, 81.6% of Oklahoman likely voters agree that laws regarding whether the use of marijuana is legal or not should be determined by the individual state governments, not the federal government.
  • 87.8% of Republicans, 76.3% of Democrats and 76.0% of Independents agree that individual states should be the decision-makers regarding legalization of marijuana.
  • All of the state regions (82.8% Tulsa MSA, 78.6% OKC MSA and 82.8% rest of state) agree that legalization of marijuana should be an individual state decision.

 

About the Poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the random-sample, scientific survey from August 28 through September 9, using live telephone interviewers. Of the 404 respondents who participated, 110 were contacted by cell phone and 294 by land line (weighted). The combined results have been weighted to adjust for variation in the sample relating to age, sex and political party. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. For smaller subgroups, the margin of sampling error is larger.

This poll conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The full Call Dispositions and Rate Calculations were calculated by SoonerPoll.com and is available here.

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The Oklahoma Lottery, since being proposed in the 1990s, has been highly controversial in the state of Oklahoma.  So, it’s probably no surprise that public opinion regarding the Oklahoma lottery will probably be controversial as well.

What’s interesting is favorability of the lottery has started to change.

SoonerPoll began polling the lottery in 2009 when public opinion was equally divided and, interestingly, the undecided were at its lowest point. Since then, it appears those once unfavorable slowly become undecided in their opinion and favorability has slowly risen. Today, those favorable toward the lottery hold a fragile majority, a first for either side, with unfavorabilty constantly trending lower.

So, the question is why?

David Blatt, Director of the left-leaning Oklahoma Policy Institute and a lottery supporter, says “the survey seems to suggest that the lottery has become more popular, although it’s hard to tell whether this is a momentary spike in support or a sign of an enduring trend.”

One critic of the lottery believes the steady increase of favorability is a function of money and marketing.

“It’s not hard to see why the lottery is popular,” said Brandon Dutcher, Vice President of Policy for the right-leaning Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “You’ve got this enterprise with a huge marketing budget, plus constant earned media, most of it favorable and often tinged with excitement. The lottery bureaucrats don’t issue press releases about the guy who gambles away the grocery money.”

Since its final passage in 2004 under Democrat Governor Brad Henry, the lottery has continued to under-performed expectations. It has never met the projections pushed by proponents more than a decade ago, and ranks toward the bottom with other lottery states in the amount of revenue generated and per capita spending.

Just last October, however, lottery officials did announce that it has raised more than half a billion dollars for education since the first scratch-off tickets were sold in the state more than seven years ago. But, officials believe one key change could help move the lottery toward meeting those expectations.

Lottery officials have been lobbying that a requirement that 35 percent of its profits go to education has hurt sales.

The theory goes like this: easing the 35 percent requirement would allow the lottery commission to put more money into prize payouts, which would, in turn, generate more sales.  So while the percentage take to education would decrease, the actual dollar amount would increase.

Conservatives and lottery critics, especially, could have a difficult time arguing against this theory, considering they use it themselves in arguing for tax cuts; the concept that lower tax rates generate more tax revenues.

Lottery officials have even pointed to other states as examples where cutting the requirement has generated more revenue for public education.

Regardless of the final decision, the harsh reality is this:  Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have lotteries. Oklahoma’s gross lottery revenue of about $198 million during fiscal year 2011 placed us 10th from the bottom, according to GamblingCompliance. On a per capita basis Oklahoma was third-to-last, ahead of only Montana and North Dakota.

Meanwhile, Oklahomans have slowly come to favor the state’s lottery.

About the Poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the random-sample, scientific survey from May 22 through June 12, using live telephone interviewers. Of the 402 respondents who participated, 108 were contacted by cell phone and 295 by land line. The combined results have been weighted to adjust for variation in the sample relating to age, sex and political party. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. For smaller subgroups, the margin of sampling error is larger.

This poll conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The full Call Dispositions and Rate Calculations were calculated by SoonerPoll.com and is available here.

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Gov. Mary Fallin may not have any challenger yet announced to run against her next year, but it would appear that whoever may eventually emerge will have a big uphill battle. While this may have been well known anecdotally in political circles, the latest poll results from SoonerPoll.com would now confirm it.

In its latest quarterly poll, Gov. Fallin’s approval rating among likely voters has reached an all-time high, 71%, since SoonerPoll began measuring the governor’s approval in 2011 when she was sworn in.

This high approval rating comes in the wake of the governor’s leadership in helping Oklahoma recover from this year’s season of devastating tornadoes.

“Despite some criticism over school storm shelters, Fallin gets good marks for handling the recent tornadoes in the state,” said Dr. Keith Gaddie (@KeithGaddie), political science professor at the University of Oklahoma.

“She has emergency management experience,” says Gaddie, pointing out that as lieutenant governor, she dealt with the Oklahoma City bombing as well as tornadoes. “She’s good substantively and stylistically.”

Not all of her actions as governor have met with the approval of a majority of likely voters, some critics note, pointing to her decision to turn down additional Medicaid funding under Obamacare, and her signing the expansion of horse slaughter in the state.

Still, the economic trade winds may be at Fallin’s back going in next year’s reelection. Oklahoma’s 5 percent unemployment rate is the lowest in the country for any state with a population of more than 3 million people, adding 54,000 new jobs. She has also restored the state’s savings account, the Rainy Day Fund, from less than $3 in 2011 to more than $530 million.

“Fallin also has a good record with social conservatives,” notes Hastings Wyman of the Southern Political Report. Self-identified conservatives make up slight more than half of the Oklahoma electorate. Earlier this year, Fallin received praise from National Right to Life for signing three anti-abortion measures that passed the legislature, including parental notification before abortions can be performed on a minor.

It remains unseen, however, who will run against the governor next year, if anyone, and how effective he or she will be in bringing down Fallin’s high approval ratings. Plus, the clock is ticking, and every day the governor gets stronger as any would-be competitor now has one less day in raising vital campaign dollars.

Fallin, Oklahoma’s first female governor, has already amassed a campaign war chest that puts her well on her way of matching, if not besting the nearly $4.1 million she raised in her successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

“She’s stronger than goat’s milk,” says longtime Oklahoma political analyst Mike McCarville (@McCarvilleRept). “I don’t see a Republican challenger or even whether the Democrats can come up with a sacrificial lamb or not.”

About the Poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the random-sample, scientific survey from May 22 through June 12, using live telephone interviewers. Of the 402 respondents who participated, 108 were contacted by cell phone and 295 by land line. The combined results have been weighted to adjust for variation in the sample relating to age, sex and political party. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. For smaller subgroups, the margin of sampling error is larger.

This poll conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The full Call Dispositions and Rate Calculations were calculated by SoonerPoll.com and is available here.

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We continue to try and read the tealeaves from the ideological identification chart above and determine what it might mean to Oklahoma’s political future. So, as the chart seems to indicate, has the Republican Revolution in the state run out of steam, or have Democrats stopped the bleeding and ready for a comeback?

Oklahoma’s tsunami of Republican red may have crashed the shores in 2010, when every statewide office became Republican, but the early signs were there in the conservative identification leading up to that election. Like the coastline receding before the big wave, moderate identification retreated and conservatism surged.

Looking back, here’s what the chart also tells us. Soon after President Obama’s election in 2008, Oklahoma voters abandoned the brief thought of being a ‘moderate’ once it was clear the new president wasn’t one. Conservative identification shot to 60% of the electorate and averaged much higher than it ever had, not going below 49% since 2008.  In the months leading up to the historical 2010 election for Oklahoma, conservatism was at an all-time high, since SoonerPoll started recording it in 2004, and showing strength like it hadn’t before.

But, the months leading up to 2012 showed the conservative movement had perhaps slowed, which may also be tied to the loss of enthusiasm for voting Republican in comparison to 2010.  Republican Mitt Romney may have won Oklahoma, but the drop in enthusiasm in Oklahoma was systematically low for Romney voters nationwide, negatively effecting turnout and costing him the election. I opined about this after the presidential primary last year and how the more moderate Romney, if he was the eventual nominee, might be a repeat of the moderate McCain loss in 2008.

But now, the high-flying conservative plane in Oklahoma looks like it has stalled, leaving many to speculate that Republicans have reached a point of diminishing return.  It could be argued the chart presents evidence that Republican control of all statewide offices and both legislative bodies is here to stay, and this is all the level of conservatives Republicans need to remain firmly in control.  Or not?

For some additional insights, we turned to Patrick B. McGuigan, editor of CapitolBeatOK.com and one of the state’s leading authorities on Oklahoma politics.

mcguigan“The Republican ‘brand’ may have peaked,” said McGuigan, “although the party will likely continue to dominate the Legislature and most statewide races for years to come. Major problems facing the leadership include whether or not to deliver on promises to make government smaller and to lower taxes. If they cannot do this, they risk some erosion of their dominant position.”

One thing is for certain: if Democrats continue to embrace the ideology of the far left and abandon its conservative heritage in the state, it may be the minority party for some time to come.

“Democrats retain a plurality of Oklahoma’s registered voters, but any return to statewide strength is dependent upon restoration of the moderate-to-conservative policy approaches that characterized successful Democratic politicians of the past,” said McGuigan.  “There is no guarantee this is possible because of the shift to the Left among the party’s most committed activists.”

Some Democrat political observers believe the state’s changing demography will aid Democrats in future gains: African Americans in Oklahoma are voting at higher levels than ever before 2008, Hispanics are the state’s fastest growing minority, and both are traditional constituencies of the Democratic Party.

While Republican political observers may concede these points, they also point out it would be difficult to make out the Oklahoma Republican Party as the party of ‘old white men,’ noting the majority of women and Native American legislators in Oklahoma are Republicans as well as the House speaker being of African American and Native American decent.

“Still, I’d give the Democrats a shot at grabbing a statewide post,” McGuigan said, “most likely the schools superintendent job, or two.”

Either way, Oklahoma seems to take its own sweet time with political change.  The modern conservative movement, and the alignment with the Republican Party, started back in the early 1970s when Republicans had just 21 seats in the 101-seat State House of Representatives.  To get to the 72 Republicans today, it’s taken them over forty years.

If the Democrats are ever able to regain control, that may take its own sweet time as well.

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Highlights from Bill Shapard’s appearance on the KFAQ (Tulsa), the Pat Campbell Show, the day before the Tulsa Mayoral Election:

Click here to listen:

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“This is a candidate race, not a issue oriented race.  Candidates races are more stable.  People find a candidate that they like and pretty much stick with them.  People can change their mind on state questions or, in this particular case, different types of tax packages.”

 “Well, I think a lot of people live in somewhat of an echo chamber.  I’d like for every listener to think for a minute, who is most of of the people that you are friends with on Facebook or Twitter.  When you go to groups are they mostly groups of Republicans or mostly groups of people of opposite views.  And, most people grow up and live in an environment where they surround themselves with people of alike views.  There is nothing wrong with this, it’s culturally part of the way we develop.”

“What I do is, is I get in and randomly select among a given population a sample and then we ask them questions.  And we were talking to the passionate, but we’re also talking to the impassionate [unpassionate], the people who just get up every day, they go to work, they have their job — yes, they care who their mayor is — but they are not going to get involved in the politics as much as a lot of other people do.”

“I think a lot of Bill Christiansen’s supporters are very passionate people and they surround themselves with other people that are like-minded and very passionate, and that is all that they hear.  What I do as a pollster is I’m talking to also the people who don’t go to all of the Republican meetings and are all friends with all of the same people on Facebook.”

“I’d just want to remind people the sample size does not necessarily have to be high in which to have a higher level of prediction.  As long as there is a probability sample within that given population, a pollster like me can be pretty accurate within a margin of error.”

“In fact, I think her [Kathy Taylor] biggest challenge is going to try and return Tulsa back to the days when she first ran for mayor and before President Obama.  When you take a look at Democrat turnout prior to 2008, it was pretty much the same — half of the electorate turning out was Republican and the other half was Democrat.”

“Under Obama, we had a lot of Democrats that just got really depressed about voting.  They really didn’t find anybody that they liked.  We see this in the 2010 Democrat primary for governor.  A lot of Democrats just looked and said ‘I really don’t care whose going to run against Mary Fallin’.  Some of them were going to vote for Mary Fallin [in the November election] and simply didn’t turn out.  In my scoring system, those people now have lower scores because their predictability of voting has gone down.  We’re now looking at a sample where 51% is going to Republican and  about 42% is going to be Democrat on election day.”

“Her number at 36% is the most unstable number because if she is able to achieve a pre-Obama turnout for Democrats, her number could go, her percentage of the vote could go up substantially.  If not, it could go down. I think her number is the most unstable of the three.”

“I don’t see how that [one candidate winning with 50% of vote] could happen at all. In fact, Bill Christiansen was at 20% in my poll, I think he will outperform that number.”

“I really don’t [care about who wins].  As a media pollster — I’m not a Republican pollster and I’m not a Democrat pollster.  I work for the media, in this particular case for the Tulsa World.  I hang my numbers out there, and my greatest incentive is to be right.  I don’t have an incentive to help one candidate or the other.”

“I would challenge, if they think that I’m not a very good pollster and the campaigns have pollsters and they are so much better, then publicly release your numbers, publicly release as much information as I have about not only my methodology but my sampling technique, and my results.  And put it our there, and let’s see whose going to be the closest come tomorrow.  I just want to be right, that’s my only motivation.”

“I want to say one thing about the Tulsa World.  A lot of people in Tulsa know that the Tulsa World leans to the left, but that is from their editorial department.  Every newspaper basically has a journalism side and an editorial side.  I’ve never really talked at all to the people on the editorial side of the Tulsa World.  The news people I work with are the people most interested in the polling that I produce and they don’t have skin in the game either.  They could really care less who the next mayor is.  They just want to report on it, report it accurately and they want that polling that I produce for them to be accurate.”

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