Authors Posts by James Davenport

James Davenport


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SoonerPoll, Oklahoma’s most recognized name in public opinion research, recently announced that it now offers a new, low cost public opinion research service. Individuals or organizations interested in low cost branding and awareness research or how the public views issues important to their goals can now take part in “The Quarterly Poll.”

“The Quarterly Poll” is a survey of 500 likely voters across Oklahoma conducted by SoonerPoll once every quarter. Participants add questions to the poll and upon completion receive toplines, crosstabs and assistance disseminating their results to the public, should they choose to do so.

“We have conducted ‘The Quarterly Poll’ on a trial basis for the last couple of quarters,” Bill Shapard, SoonerPoll chief executive, said. “Before the year started, we were approached by an organization interested in utilizing our ability to effectively measure public opinion on a regular basis.”

“We decided to devise a mechanism for others to participate at a lower cost than if they commissioned an independent survey, which eventually grew into ‘The Quarterly Poll.’”

The third installment of “The Quarterly Poll” will go into the field later this month, and according to Shapard, will have the most participants to date.

“We operated the poll on a trial basis to sort of test the waters and see if there would even be any organizations interested in including their issues on the survey,” Shapard said. The poll has become successful and, just through word-of-mouth, the 3rd Quarter survey will have a full slate of questions Shapard said.

Participants on the poll include public policy organizations, statewide associations, public relations and marketing firms, as well as lobbyists, and various print and media outlets. “What is great about this service is that it not only allows organizations to know what public opinion is on an issue now, it provides a cost effective way to conduct time-series analysis of issues or branding questions, over a period of years,” Shapard said.

SoonerPoll is preparing to launch a version of The Quarterly Poll just for businesses that wish to utilize it for branding and perception research.

“Conducting this type of research can be quite expensive,” Shapard said. “But, when companies can participate in a project that is already going into the field they can lower their costs substantially and still get the quality information they need to make informed decisions.”

SoonerPoll is the brand name utilized by Shapard Research’s public opinion research division. Shapard Research has clients across the country as well as in Oklahoma. SoonerPoll has served as the pollster of record for the Tulsa World, and regularly conducts surveys for Griffin Communications, owners of Oklahoma City’s KWTV Channel 9, and Tulsa’s KOTV Channel 6.

For more information on how to take advantage of  “The Quarterly Poll,” contact James Davenport at (405) 607-4664 or by e-mail at

James Davenport is Shapard Research’s Vice President of Client Relations and a Political Analyst for

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Recently, began running a quarterly survey of likely voters in Oklahoma.  The purpose of this survey is to provide insight into public opinion on relevant issues facing our state.  While public opinion polls are often maligned as being “biased” for or against a particular cause, elected official, or issue, everyone seems interested in knowing what the public thinks.  In addition, those on both sides of any political issue do not hesitate to use public opinion polling when it favors their position.

Public opinion can and should be a useful tool for elected officials and policymakers when making decisions affecting the lives of our citizens.  However, a clear understanding of what public opinion is and what it means will be helpful to all.  First, and foremost, public opinion is a snapshot in time of what the public thinks about a given issue.  Public opinion is impacted by a variety of sources, and can change over time.

Because of this, public opinion should not be viewed as static, but rather as a fluid stream that will adapt to changing information, circumstances, and events.  Public opinion is very much tied to geography, history, and culture.  There is a reason the majority of Oklahomans and Texans view issues differently than the majority of New Yorkers or Californians.  Different historical experiences, different cultures, and even different populations all impact the results of public opinion surveys.

But even within a state, such differences are revealed.  This is why voting patterns and public opinion polls can see such varying results in areas like Tulsa, Oklahoma City, “Little Dixie”, and the state panhandle.  This also explains why certain legislators who push an agenda that is not in line with public opinion can still manage to get re-elected.  While they may be at odds with public opinion across the entire state, they are very much in tune with, and representative of, public opinion in their legislative districts.

Quite frankly, people get upset with public opinion polls when they reveal public sentiment to be at odds with their perspectives.  They accuse the poll of being “slanted” or “biased”.  If that case can’t be made, then they resort to calling their fellow citizens “ignorant” or “uninformed”.  The reality is that the most reputable public opinion research firms work very hard to ensure their questions are written as unbiased as possible.  They have an interest in knowing what the public really thinks about issues, not trying to manufacture public opinion that will be revealed false under subsequent scrutiny. strives to ensure its public opinion surveys are conducted in as unbiased and statistically valid manner as possible.  This is why we do not conduct polling for specific political candidates or causes.  We pride ourselves on being Oklahoma’s public opinion research firm.  This is why we maintain a high credibility with media outlets around our state.  We know the only real asset we have is our reputation.  We work hard to protect it and to provide the absolute best in public opinion research.

We hope you gain insight from our work and are able to better understand how the important issues facing our state today are viewed by your fellow citizens.  We strive to be open and transparent in our processes and provide opportunity for the public to comment (and even criticize) our work.  We believe this ensures the public the most accurate and useful information possible.

James Davenport is Shapard Research’s Vice President of Client Relations and a Political Analyst for


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Recently, Shapard Research/ conducted an extensive citizen satisfaction and public attitudes study for the City of Tulsa.  This study gathered the opinions of over 1800 Tulsa residents on a wide range of issues important to their community.  The result was an overwhelming positive response from the community, media, and elected officials of Tulsa to the information they gleaned from this study.  The model used by Tulsa can and should be used by municipalities across Oklahoma.

Here’s why this model of public opinion research is the most effective tool local government leaders can utilize to connect with, and utilize, the opinions of their citizens:

Accuracy – Nothing can compare to the quality and accuracy of a true random sampling of citizens via a professional public opinion research firm.  While there are many tools trying to create the illusion of effective surveying, they simply don’t compare to the quality or accuracy of data provide by this type of firm.

Fiscal Responsibility – Many communities balk at conducting such an extensive survey because they do not believe they can afford it, or justify it to their citizens.  However, the City of Tulsa spent no taxpayer dollars to implement this survey.  Their forward thinking and aggressive attitude towards providing citizen input created a truly innovative approach to funding that protected taxpayers’ interest.

Strategic Planning – The city of Tulsa is already working to incorporate the findings of this study into their strategic plan.  Citizens can now have confidence knowing their voices were heard as their elected officials create an agenda for their city.

Community Support – Because their voices were heard, and because the City of Tulsa was open with regards to the process, Tulsa’s elected officials are able to create greater “buy-in” from citizens, the media, and Tulsa-area elected officials for the vision they are creating for their city.

The model created by the City of Tulsa effectively removes the barriers to utilizing one of the most important aspects of public policy-making – public opinion.  Municipalities across Oklahoma should be finding out how they can replicate this model and create a truly representative policy agenda for their communities.

James Davenport is Shapard Research’s Vice President of Client Relations and a Political Analyst for

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