Recently, Shapard Research/SoonerPoll.com 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 SoonerPoll.com