In what many have called the first major straw poll among Republicans of the 2016 presidential election, noted author and neurosurgeon Ben Carson won the straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City on Saturday among a crowded field of potential candidates.

Carson, who gave a stirring speech to conference attendees, won with 25.4 percent of the vote, which saw more than 64 percent of attendees participate in the straw poll.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who also spoke at the conference but has not formally announced yet, came in second with 20.5 percent of the vote, and rounding out the top three was Texas Senator Ted Cruz with 16.6 percent, who was scheduled but unable to attend due to votes back in Washington.

Top Finishers in the 2015 SRLC Conference Straw Poll
1. Ben Carson 25.4
2. Scott Walker 20.5
3. Ted Cruz 16.6
4. Chris Christie 5.3
5. Rick Perry 5.0, Oklahoma’s only non-partisan public opinion polling firm, was selected to conduct the straw poll among conference attendees who were issued a unique passcode upon registering at the conference and could participate anytime online through a variety of mobile devices including their own cellphone.  SoonerPoll staff was stationed throughout the Cox Convention Center during the three-day event with iPads and assisted attendees with voting.

Key Take-aways:

  1. Oklahomans, who made up the largest contingent of attendees, narrowly selected Gov. Scott Walker at their first choice overall, but Carson was able to overcome and win with supporters from other southern states who attended.
  2. Ben Carson led among attendees from Texas, beating out Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
  3. A plurality, 46 percent, believed national security issues was the most important issues facing the United States today, following by economic issues at 40 percent and social issues at 14 percent.
  4. Those believing economic issues were most important favored Scott Walker; those believing social issues were most important favored Ben Carson.
  5. Self-identified Tea Party supporters, who made up 42 percent of attendees, favored Ted Cruz, while self-identified Libertarians, who made up only 14 percent, favored Rand Paul, who finished 7th overall.
  6. 58 percent of attendees were either members of the National Rifle Association or the Gun Owners of America, or identified with either organization.  Ted Cruz narrowly edged out Scott Walker among these attendees.


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Bill is the founder of 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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