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Madison Grady

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Oklahoma School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s plan to raise teacher pay in order to bring Oklahoma in line with the national average is strongly supported by Oklahoma likely voters, according to the most recent SoonerPoll.com Quarterly Poll.

The proposal, which would be phased in over five years, would add five paid days of instruction to the school’s academic calendar and increase teachers’ pay $5,000 across the board.

Among likely voters, 63.8 percent strongly supported the superintendent’s proposal, while another 22.4 percent somewhat supported it.  Only 10.1 percent opposed the proposal.

As the new State School Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister has proposed adding 5 paid days of instruction to the school’s academic calendar and $5,000 to teacher pay to bring Oklahoma in line with the national average, a plan that would be phased in over 5 years.  Do you SUPPORT or OPPOSE the 5-year education plan for higher pay and more instructional time?
1. Strongly support 63.8
2. Somewhat support 22.4
3. Neutral/DK/No opinion [DNR] 3.6
4. Somewhat oppose 4.3
5. Strongly oppose 5.8

“Polling over the last few years has shown Oklahomans support teachers getting an increase in pay,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.  “This particular proposal seems to have caught the interest of voters.”

Support was high across all political party lines, all parts of the state, political ideology, and both men and women of all ages.

Among conservatives, who account for more than 50 percent of the electorate, 68.1 percent of “somewhat conservatives” and 53.4 percent of “very conservatives” strongly supported the proposal.  Moderates, who make up about one-third of all likely voters, strongly supported the proposal with 67.2 percent.

Republicans strongly supported the proposal with 60.2 percent and another 22.5 percent somewhat supported it, resulting in a combined support of 82.7 percent among Republicans.  Democrat combined support totaled 90.5 percent.

All parts of the state strongly supported the proposal as well.  Likely voters in the Tulsa metro area led with 72.2 percent strongly supporting and a combined support of 93.4 percent.  Oklahoma City area voters strongly supported the proposal with 68.7 percent and rural voters with 57.0 percent.

Also of interest was the strong support among those age 55 or older, who make up nearly two-thirds of the electorate and are less likely to have school age children.  Sixty-five percent of those age 65 or older strongly supported the teacher pay raise proposal, with 66.7 percent of those age 55-64 also strongly supporting it.

 

About the Poll

The poll of 397 likely voters in Oklahoma was commissioned and conducted February 3-12, 2015 by live interviewer and included 108 cellphone and 289 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.91 percentage points.

Poll results were weighted by age, party 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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Some Oklahomans vote only in November of even years.  Others, usually fewer in number, participate in elections year-round every year.

This state legislative session, a proposal has been made to move local school board elections to the general election date in November; an effort to increase turnout and participation in the electoral process of more local elections.

Some people favor the idea.  They say that many people currently are not sure when these elections are held, which results in low voter turnout and makes it easier for education interest groups to influence the outcome.

Other people oppose the idea, saying that moving these elections to November would place them on a crowded ballot where they would get lost among other races, and would make the school elections more partisan.

According to the most recent quarterly poll from SoonerPoll, Oklahomans strongly favor moving school elections to the general election in November, with 64.8 percent favoring the idea and 49.5 percent strongly favoring the proposal.

Do you FAVOR or OPPOSE the idea of moving school elections to the general election date in November? [PROBE: STRONGLY/SOMEWHAT]
1. Strongly favor 49.5
2. Somewhat favor 15.3
3. Neutral/DK/No opinion [DNR] 6.3
4. Somewhat oppose 9.6
5. Strongly oppose 19.3

Interestingly, the divide among Republicans, Democrats and Independents was not significant.  Fifty-one percent of Republicans strongly favored the move, yet 47.1 percent of Democrats also strongly favored as well as 48.8 percent of Independents.  The proposal was also equally strongly favored by liberals, moderates and conservatives.

Younger voters, those under the age of 44 who might be busier with family, work and children, were slightly more likely to favor the proposal than those 45 and older.  Married poll respondents were 12 points more likely to strongly favor the proposal than those who were not.

Interest in moving school board elections to November increases as the frequency of religious attendance decreases, meaning those who generally participate in less group or civic activities favor or see the value in having more consolidated elections at one time in the year.

No significant differences were observed among voters of various levels of education or household income.

 

About the Poll

The poll of 506 likely voters in Oklahoma was conducted January 5-22, 2015 by live interviewer and included 113 cellphone and 349 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.34 percentage points, and was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs (OCPA).

Poll results were weighted by age and congressional district, and stratified by a model of 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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House Bill 1515 addresses public health concerns impacting Oklahoma

Oklahoma is on the cutting edge of health care technology and research in several areas, including cancer treatment. However, not all Oklahomans have access to the best treatment options that are offered in state.

This legislative session, Rep. Marian Cooksey introduced House Bill 1515 to help Oklahoma cancer patients receive the physician-ordered radiation treatments needed for their recovery and long-term health.

Proton radiation therapy gives patients with certain types of cancers a therapy option that treats only the cancerous areas and leaving other, more sensitive, parts of the body alone. Proton therapy is equally effective at killing the cancer as more traditional radiation therapies, but has better long-term health results because there’s less of a chance of causing a second tumor later in life or irreparable damage to vital organs near the cancer.

Proton therapy is offered in Oklahoma and attracts hundreds of patients from, not only across America, but from around the world.

And, Oklahomans see this as very important to our state, according to recent polling, where nearly nine in ten Oklahoma likely voters believe it is important that Oklahoma remain on the cutting edge of cancer therapy and research.

A very large majority of Oklahomans also expressed that they would travel out of the state to receive treatment if Oklahoma did not offer the best cancer care, indicating that not only do Oklahomans want the state to benefit from attracting patients to the state, but they want the best cancer care to be located close to them for their needs as well.

The poll also reveals that a vast majority of Oklahomans believe Oklahoma doctors should make decisions on medical treatments regarding their Oklahoma patients.

“This is a public health issue. A patient should be able to get the best treatment available, especially when it’s offered locally, and their treatment plan should be dependent on what their doctor decides is best for the patient and nothing else,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.

Almost all of Oklahoma likely voters believe it is important that Oklahoma remain on the cutting edge of cancer therapy and research.

Importance that Oklahoma remain on the cutting edge of cancer care. Very Important Somewhat Important Neutral Somewhat unimportant Very Unimportant
Overall 86.9 12.0 0.8 0.2 0.0
 
Republican 87.2 11.6 1.3 0.0 0.0
Democrat 86.7 12.3 0.5 0.6 0.0
Independent 86.4 13.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
Likeliness to travel out of state to receive treatment if Oklahoma did not offer the best cancer care. Very likely Somewhat likely Neutral Somewhat unlikely Very unlikely
Overall 84.6 5.0 3.4 2.0 5.1
 
Republican 82.4 5.8 3.9 2.9 5.0
Democrat 86.3 3.3 2.9 1.2 6.4
Independent 89.6 8.3 2.1 0.0 0.0

Opinions were similar among all sub-groups of Oklahoma likely voters, including those of party affiliation.

“The results are pretty clear,” said Shapard. “Likely voters in the state see the development of cutting edge healthcare technology and therapies as important to our state, and that growth and development shouldn’t be hindered in any way.”

 

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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It’s a simple concept that conservatives and Republicans like to talk about: when it comes to creating more tax revenues to support government services, lower tax rates put more money in consumers’ pockets and their spending creates more taxes to collect.

Recent news coverage in Oklahoma has been predicting a budget shortfall in 2015, and liberals and Democrats in the state have warned legislators that following through with more incremental tax cuts will leave an even greater deficit.

So, we decided to see if Oklahomans believe like Republicans and conservatives do, or like Democrats and liberals.  In SoonerPoll’s most recent quarterly poll, 54 percent of Oklahoma likely voters believe lower tax rates create higher tax revenues.  While 14.3 percent did not know or had no opinion, just under one-in-three voters disagreed.

Question Wording and Topline

Would you AGREE or DISAGREE with the following statement: “Lower tax rates create higher tax revenues.”

  1. Strongly agree                                                                                                                         31.4
  2. Somewhat agree                                                                                                                      22.6
  3. Don’t know/no opinion                                                                                                            14.3
  4. Somewhat disagree                                                                                                                  15.9
  5. Strongly disagree                                                                                                                     15.8

Obviously, there was a divide among Republican and Democrat voters, with a 28.5 point spread between the two parties on agreement with the statement, but still 40.2 percent of Democrats agreed that lower tax rates create higher tax revenues. While a strong 67.7 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement, still a majority (52.3 percent) of Independents agreed as well.

Jonathan Small, the executive vice president with the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, Oklahoma’s leading conservative think tank, says that no one is asserting tax cuts will always result immediately in higher revenues for state government — not even Art Laffer or the Laffer Curve itself, he says, would make that claim.

“It’s clear from these poll results, however, that many Oklahomans understand that, over the long term, states and nations with low-tax environments have more prosperous economies and often have better government revenue growth,” said Small, “just as the states with no personal income tax have had faster revenue growth over the last decade than the highest-taxed states and the nation.”

As expected, 66.3 percent of participants that identified themselves as very conservative agreed with the statement, while only 30.3 percent of very liberals did, but it should be noted that conservatives make up about 55 percent of the entire Oklahoma electorate.  Moderates are not completely convinced, as 45.6 percent agree with the statement and 37.7 percent disagree.

Interestingly, men were nearly 18 points more likely to strongly agree with the statement then women were, yet women were nearly ten points more likely to somewhat agree, meaning the strength of agreement was much stronger with men than women.

There was no significant differences among participants with varying degrees of education, from high school graduates to those with a post-graduate degree.

“There is a majority of Oklahoma voters that agree that lower tax rates will create higher tax revenues,” said SoonerPoll founder Bill Shapard.  “The question is, will a majority of legislators and the governor agree when incremental tax cuts come up in the legislature this upcoming session.”

 

About the Poll

The poll of 403 likely voters in Oklahoma was commissioned and conducted Dec 8-19, 2014 by SoonerPoll.com and included 88 cellphone and 318 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.88 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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In SoonerPoll’s most recent quarterly poll of Oklahoma likely voters, respondents were asked if a person should expect their life to be in danger if they resist arrest by the police, and almost two-thirds, 62.8 percent, agreed that they should.

This question, among others, was asked following the high profile decision of two grand juries in two states regarding two African American males who were killed by police.  In the New York case, video captured the arrest of Eric Garner who resisted while being arrested.  In the Missouri case, it was unclear whether Mike Brown resisted arrest.

“In designing this question, we set a very high threshold of not just injury but ‘life at risk,'” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “We were amazed that nearly two-thirds of Oklahomans would agree, but it shows Oklahomans believe resisting arrest by police is not the right course of action and suspects, regardless of their race, age, sex, or religion, should consider their life to be at risk if they do.”

Republicans were considerably more likely to agree with this statement, 72.4 percent, than both Democrats at 51.7 percent and Independents at 64.3 percent.  Just over one quarter, 27.4 percent, of Democrats “Strongly disagree” with this statement, compared to 19.6 percent of Independents and only 7.2 percent of Republicans.

Men were also much more likely to “Strongly agree” with this statement, 56.8 percent, compared to women at 38.2 percent.

“There is a strong ‘law and order’ mentality in these poll results,” Shapard said. “Oklahomans see that law enforcement has a job to do and arrests should be civil.”

The statewide poll was conducted among likely voters, which included some African Americans, and stratified to a profile of likely Oklahoma voters, but analysis of African Americans was not considered due to low sample size.

 

About the Poll

The poll of 403 likely voters in Oklahoma was commissioned and conducted Dec 8-19, 2014 by SoonerPoll.com and included 88 cellphone and 318 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.88 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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According to President Barack Obama, race relations in the US are better now than when he took office.

In a 40-minute interview the president gave NPR on Dec. 18, Obama asserted that day-to-day interactions in the US were “less racially divided.” Asked whether there’s more racial division now than when he took office in 2009, Obama replied, “No.”

“I actually think that it’s probably, in its day-to-day interactions, less racially divided,” he declared.

But, according to recent nationwide polling, and SoonerPoll’s recent quarterly poll among likely Oklahoma voters, Americans believe otherwise.

In SoonerPoll’s statewide poll, a majority of Oklahomans (54.3 percent) believe that race relations in America have become worse under President Obama’s tenure as President than before his presidency in the last 20 years, with over one third (36.9 percent) believing it to be “Much worse”.  Only 15.4 percent of Oklahomans believe race relations have become better.

Half of Oklahoma Republicans believed race relations in America had become considerably worse under Obama’s tenure compared to the opinions of both Democrats (21.6 percent) and Independents (37.3 percent).

Men were also much more likely to respond “Much worse” to this question (43.6 percent) compared to women (31.1 percent).

These results are very similar to nationwide polling that found that 53% percent of Americans think race relations have worsened under Obama, compared with 36 percent who say they have stayed the same and 9 percent who say they have improved, a Bloomberg Politics poll found earlier this month.

“The president is completely out of touch with Oklahomans and Americans overall on this issue,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “While his initial election was a symbol of racial progress in America, President Obama and his policies have done little in the minds of Americans when it comes to bridging the racial divide.”

 

About the Poll

The poll of 403 likely voters in Oklahoma was commissioned and conducted Dec 8-19, 2014 by SoonerPoll.com and included 88 cellphone and 318 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.88 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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The most recent SoonerPoll finds that Oklahomans view public sector employees very favorably, including their public pension programs and their associations.

“At some point throughout the year, every Oklahoman will interact with or be affected by the work of our state or local government employees,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com. “How the electorate views those who perform the work of our government is important to the overall health of our democracy.”

A solid 74 percent of likely voting Oklahomans viewed state and local government employees favorably, with 12 percent having no opinion and only 13.9 percent unfavorably.  The pensions or retirement programs used by public sector employees in Oklahoma were also viewed favorably by 60 percent of Oklahomans, 23.1 percent had no opinion and 17 percent unfavorable.

The associations of public sector employees also fared well.  The firefighters’ association received the highest combined favorable rating of 79.9 percent, followed by the Oklahoma Nurses Association at 66 percent and the teachers’ associations at 61.8 percent.

Further results revealed that 73.3 percent of Republicans and 69.7 percent of Independents view state and local government employees favorably, as well as 75.5 percent of Democrats.

A majority of Oklahomans from all three parties also viewed Oklahoma’s public pensions favorably with 63.5 percent of Democrats, 54.5 percent of Republicans, and 66.7 percent of Independents.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned by the Keep Oklahoma’s Promises Coalition to conduct the survey. The scientific study was conducted from February 1-8, 2014 with 400 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a dual frame of both landline telephone and cell phones. The sample was weighted by age, race, congressional district and landline/cell phone usage, and stratified using a model of likely voters.

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 of ± 4.9 percent.

About the Poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific survey from February 1-8, 2014 with 400 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a dual frame of both landline telephone and cell phones. The sample was weighted by age, race, congressional district and landline/cell phone usage, and stratified using a model of likely voters. The poll was commissioned by the Keep Oklahoma’s Promises Coalition. 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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Nearly all Oklahomans think it is important to provide better training for family caregivers, according to a new survey today released by aging advocates at the State Capitol.

AARP Oklahoma, which commissioned the non-partisan survey of 400 likely Oklahoma voters, said the results were timely since the Legislature is considering a bill that would strengthen training for family caregivers and allow patients to designate a caregiver at the time of hospital admission.

Senate Bill 1536 by Senator Brian Crain, R-Tulsa and Representative Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, was approved by the state Senate February 18th and now awaits action by a House committee, according to AARP Oklahoma State President Marjorie Lyons.

“It is clear the majority of Oklahomans want better support for the nearly 600,000 family caregivers in the state,” said Lyons, a retired nurse. “SB 1536 will ensure family caregivers get the training they need to properly care for their loved ones after they are discharged from the hospital. We are calling on the Legislature to pass this important legislation this session.”

In addition to AARP, the proposal has also been endorsed by the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Oklahoma State Council on Aging, the Oklahoma Alliance on Aging and the Oklahoma Silver Haired Alumni Association, Lyons said.

Pollster Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com, which conducted the scientific survey, said three out of four respondents said they would support legislation allowing patients to designate a family caregiver and require hospitals to teach those caregivers how to care for a loved one after they return home from the hospital.

“The results indicate broad-based support among Republicans and Democrats for legislation to strengthen training for family caregivers,” he said. “Not a single respondent said they were against this idea and in this fractured political climate any time we see consensus of this magnitude, it should make lawmakers take notice.”

Other key findings include:

92% of respondents believe having a designated and well-instructed family caregiver could reduce costly hospital readmissions.

94.4% of likely Oklahoma voters agreed that having a designated and well-instructed family caregiver could help patients stay in their homes longer rather than being placed in a more costly assisted living facility or nursing home.

93.8% of respondents said it was important to them to be able to return and recover in their own home after being discharged from a hospital and three out of four surveyed (77.7%) said being at home with assistance from a family caregiver would be ideal when basic tasks of life become more difficult.

Two out of three respondents (66.4%) believed it to be likely that they themselves would be an unpaid caregiver in the future for a relative, spouse or friend.

In addition to survey results, Shapard also shared his first-hand experience after his father was recently discharged from the hospital.

“A recent and unexpected hospitalization of my 64 year-old father exposed the need for such legislation,” he said.  “My father moved from the ER to the ICU to a hospital room over the course of a week, had five doctors of various disciplines on this records, a dozen different nurses, and a long list of different medications.  It was expected that he would be released to recover at home over the next two weeks and little to no instruction was given on how to make that at-home recovery successful.”

AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl said Shapard’s story is indicative of the extra burden being placed on as many as 50 percent of family caregivers nationwide.

“Unless we make sure caregivers get more training on how to perform medical and nursing tasks following a loved one’s discharge from the hospital, we can expect hospital readmissions to continue to rise,” he said. “This will force many older Oklahomans out of their homes into nursing homes and continue to be a tremendous financial burden on the state.”

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority reported last year the state spent more than $62 million on Medicaid readmissions that occurred within 30 days of initial discharge, he said.

“Our interest in this legislation is based on increasing the flexibility a family may need in order to create more communication options for these families,” said Randle Lee, Regional Director of the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Association. “A family’s ability to designate individuals they trust to communicate with the hospital – whether the person is family or not – will enhance the quality of care for the patient with little to no increase in healthcare costs.”

Voskuhl said AARP members from across the state were at the State Capitol today urging lawmakers to pass SB 1536.

“The survey reinforces that most people want to be able to recover at home and giving family caregivers better training will make that possible,” he said.  “AARP Oklahoma will continue fighting to provide family caregivers more resources and support as one of its top priorities.”

 

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Results from the latest SoonerPoll indicate that likely Oklahoma voters are split over whether to replace the current pension system with a proposed 401k-style system.  In fact, a slight plurality opposed (44.8%) moving the public-sector employees’ retirement system to a 401k-style system for new employees, compared to 40.1% who supported it.

Likely voters were also asked “which retirement system is best” and again there was no consensus among Oklahomans, with 44.4 percent of likely Oklahoma voters preferring 401k plans compared to a near equal 44.3 percent of respondents who prefer traditional pension plans.

Further results revealed that 74 percent of likely Oklahoma voters had a favorable opinion of state and local government employees, and 60 percent had a favorable opinion of pensions or retirement programs for public sector employees in Oklahoma.

“Oklahomans like our public sector employees, but more importantly they have a favorable opinion of the pension program that provides these employees with a retirement,” said Shapard. “So, the question is, if the public has a favorable opinion of the current pension system and its performance, then why replace it?”

Question wording:

Another proposed change is switching benefits to a 401(k)-style system.  Currently, state employees pay into the retirement system to receive monthly pensions through a defined benefit plan based on a formula that takes into account their salary and duration of work.

Under the proposal, NEW employees would take part in a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k) plan, which would provide employees with a payout when they retire based on the amount of money contributed and investment gains or losses.

Proponents say switching to a 401(k)-style system will provide cost certainty to state government outlays, at the same time providing more portability, flexibility and choice as the private sector enjoys.

Opponents say that switching could cost billions in transition costs, deliver lower investment returns than professionally managed defined benefit plans, and have higher fees which create lower retirement security for current workers and retirees.

Knowing this, would you say your SUPPORT or OPPOSE switching benefits to a 401k-style system?

1. Support  40.1%

2. Oppose  44.8%

3. Don’t know  15.1%

 

About the Poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific survey from February 1-8, 2014 with 400 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a dual frame of both landline telephone and cell phones. The sample was weighted by age, race, congressional district and landline/cell phone usage, and stratified using a model of likely voters. The poll was commissioned by the Keep Oklahoma’s Promises Coalition. 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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A majority of likely Oklahoma voters think the state Legislature should change Oklahoma’s current workers’ compensation system, according to a recent poll. The statewide study showed 72.5 percent of respondents felt changes should be made to the current system, thereby reducing the number of workers’ compensation lawsuits.

While another 18.7 percent didn’t know if the change would reduce the number of lawsuits, only 8.7 percent disagreed with the potential change to an administrative-based system. Legislation to change the state’s workers’ comp system has passed the Oklahoma state Senate and is now headed to the state House for further consideration.

“Oklahomans believe the current court-based system pits employees against their employers, and creates a non-productive environment for accomplishing what should be most important which is taking care of injured workers,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.

Impact on workers

Within the same poll, a 71.4 percent majority said they agree that “injured workers are worse-off because the workers’ compensation system relies heavily on lawsuits to resolve disputes.” Only one in ten respondents disagreed.

When asked if the current court-based system is failing injured workers, 72.4 percent of Oklahoma likely voters agreed, with slightly less than one in ten disagreeing. Democrats were slightly more likely, 72.9 percent, to agree that the current system is failing injured workers than Republicans.

Another 61.8 percent feel that workers would benefit if Oklahoma moved from a court-based system to an administrative system, including 61 percent of Democrats, 70.1 percent of African Americans, and 80.2 percent of Hispanics.

Impact on businesses

The current court-based system’s impact on business was also tested in the poll. Sixty-six percent of respondents also said they felt that the current workers’ compensation system is unfairly hurting Oklahoma businesses, with only 13.1 percent disagreeing.

Republican and Independent respondents were most likely to agree, 69.5 and 68.8 percent respectively, but Democrats only trailed at 63.2 percent.

When presented with the difference between court-based systems and administrative systems, a 58.8 percent majority of respondents said they felt moving to an administrative system in Oklahoma would reduce costs on Oklahoma businesses. Another 31.6 percent of respondents indicated that they had no opinion.

“As these results indicate, a strong majority of Oklahomans have a desire to see their state institutions operate efficiently,” Shapard said. “When confronted with the facts, Oklahomans prefer efficiency.”

Support for the potential change ran high among Republicans throughout the survey, with Democrats only slightly trailing in support, but never below 50 percent in any of the questions asked.

Results rarely differed among respondents with regard to age, household income or education. Lower income respondents were more likely to not know if an administrative system would reduce costs, but support the potential change just as much as higher income respondents.

For the most part, women respondents were more supportive of the potential change, with 75.4 percent agreeing the change would reduce the number of lawsuits and 77.1 percent agreeing that injured workers were worse-off because the current system relies heavily on lawsuits.

Federal, state and local government workers and union workers, or those living in a union household, both agreed, 76.8 and 78.3 percent respectively, a change of the current workers compensation system would reduce the number of lawsuits.

This study was commissioned by the State Chamber Research Foundation. SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, conducted the study between February 19 and February 28 using live interviewers by telephone. The scientific study of 324 Oklahomans included both landline and cell phone participants. Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who was at home. In the cell sample, the person who answered the phone, provided that person was an adult 18 years of age or older, was asked the survey questions. The study has a margin of error of ± 5.4 percent. The full Call Dispositions and Rate Calculations were calculated by SoonerPoll.com and is available here.

 

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