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approval rating

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President Barack Obama’s approval rating in Oklahoma has fallen 6.3 points since August to 28.9 percent, according to a recent SoonerPoll.com study.

The November study found that 28.9 percent of likely Oklahoma voters approve of the way President Barack Obama is doing his job. By comparison, 64.8 percent disapproved and 6.3 percent had no opinion.

Approval ratings from early May indicated that 33.6 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled approved of the president, a marked improvement from his all-time low that coincided with the 2010 midterm elections.

In August the president’s approval reached 34.6 percent, the height of a rally that proved to be short lived.  Since August, the president’s approval has fallen dramatically and is now just 2.8 points higher than his all-time low of 26.1 percent in November 2010.

“Last May we theorized that the bump in the president’s approval rating may have been tied to the significant foreign policy event that was the death of Osama Bin Laden,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com, who went on to note that rallies of this kind are not usually sustainable, and almost always fall away over time.

“Obama enjoyed a few months of higher approval in the state, however a lot has changed since then and he has been plagued with a host of issues that affect public perception including but not limited to the debt crisis and the Solyndra scandal, not to mention a constant barrage from GOP primary candidates who have had center stage ,” Shapard said.

In depth crosstab analysis reveals that 88.6 percent of Republicans disapprove of the president’s job approval. Results also indicate that a 47.1 percent plurality of Democrats disapprove of the president, while only 46 percent of Democrats approve of the president.

Further analysis shows that those 68.5 percent of respondents who identify themselves as liberals approve of the president.  By comparison, 12.5 percent of conservatives approve of the president.

It is worth noting that, according to the Tulsa World Oklahoma Poll archives, the previous low for a sitting president was Bill Clinton’s 37 percent approval rating at the end of 1994, putting Obama’s rating well below any other president’s since the Tulsa World began polling 19 years ago.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned and conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 512 likely voters from Nov. 17 – Dec. 6. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.


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Early May approval ratings from SoonerPoll reveal that 33.6 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled approve of the way President Barack Obama is doing his job. Though the president’s approval remains low in Oklahoma, it is a marked improvement from the steady decline that coincided with the run-up to the midterm elections which culminated in an all-time low of 26.1 percent in November.

In January of this year, SoonerPoll measured the president’s approval rating for the first time since the mid-term elections and found that 29.8 percent of those polled approved of the president. If January’s numbers represent the beginning of a recovery, then the latest numbers, which are just slightly lower than they were before the mid-term dip, may indicate a return to normalcy.

“The president’s numbers in Oklahoma have fallen to the Democratic national vote base in the state,” Keith Gaddie, Vice President of SoonerPoll.com, said. “While many Oklahomans gave the new president the benefit of the doubt after the 2008 election, events have not gone his way, and his approval rating fell, and continues at a very low level.”

Public perception is inextricably tied to current events. In all probability, the months surrounding the midterm elections, which were often marred by anti-establishment and anti-Democrat sentiments, are what led to the president’s midterm dip in approval.

Similarly, it may be important to note that the most recent approval rating numbers came from a poll that went in the field on May 2, the day after it was announced that Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, had been killed in a military action ordered by the president.

“There is often some bump after a significant foreign policy event, a ‘rally’ effect,” Gaddie noted. “The president enjoyed a small rally, but rallies depend on muting criticism, and they invariably fall away, especially in times of economic uncertainty.”

Of those who identify themselves as Democrats, 53.4 percent approve of the president. Democrats account for 77 percent of Obama’s approval rating.

Further analysis shows that 72.4 percent of self-identified liberals approve of the president. Liberals constituted 24.5 percent of those who approve of President Obama. Only 12.5 percent of conservatives and 10.6 percent of Republicans approve of the president.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster commissioned the poll. The scientific study was conducted using live interviewers by telephone of 509 likely voters from May 2 – 12. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.34 percent.

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Governor Brad Henry will finish his second term as governor with a 70.8 percent approval rating, despite dropping significantly in the midst of a political environment often marred by anti-establishment and anti-Democrat sentiments.

According to SoonerPoll, Henry’s approval rating had been slowly declining in recent years reaching his lowest approval on record of 62.2 percent in October before surging to 70.8 percent following the November election.

“The remarkable thing about Brad Henry is how his approval ratings defy the political environment.” Keith Gaddie, Vice President of SoonerPoll, said. “In the past, many of us attributed this to a conciliatory, low-profile approach to politics.  But this governor has been standing against a variety of conservative political initiatives from the legislature, and his approval has actually gone up since the highly anti-incumbent environment created by the November election.”

A look at how other elected officials are faring in Oklahoma helps to put Henry’s approval into perspective. President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, had an approval rating of just 26.1 percent in November while October numbers showed Oklahoma’s US Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, both conservative Republicans, with only 69.6 percent and 64 percent respectively.

By comparison, Henry’s approval has remained high and never fallen below 62.6 percent, a remarkably high all-time low for an elected official who often finds himself on the opposite side of the electorate on the issues.

Many times in the past few years Henry has used his veto powers to strike down bills that were wildly popular among voters. The most recent example occurred in April 2010 when Henry vetoed an abortion bill that was widely supported by Oklahomans.

In a poll conducted by SoonerPoll from May 25 – June 8, 2010, 52.6 percent of Oklahomans supported both parts of the bill vetoed by Henry.  The bill was passed when Henry’s vetoes were overridden the following week by the Oklahoma Senate.

HB 1601 is another of the more recent examples. The bill, which was vetoed in April of 2009, dealt with two issues that Oklahomans expressed strong opinions about.  The bill stated no attorney can deduct any portion of a judgment from a court of law, settlement proceeds of a client, or any monies held in trust for a client for the purpose of donating or contributing funds to the election process.

The bill would also have required state agencies to use the competitive bid process when seeking outside legal counsel when fees and services were expected to be more than $5,000.  A SoonerPoll from March of this year showed that 92.9 percent of Oklahomans were in favor of the political deduction portion of the bill and 62.7 percent of Oklahomans would like to see competitive bid provision implemented.

Governor Brad Henry, who is an attorney by trade, first vetoed the bill, which was overturned by the legislature. The law went into effect last November.

Henry’s veto record is not the only place he finds himself at odds with voters.  A look at the programs Henry has supported throughout his stint as governor reveal areas in which voters may have become disenfranchised.

One such program that has seen a drastic drop in favorability in recent years is the state lottery. Henry has long been an advocate of the state lottery, since its introduction in 2004, because he believes it provides critical funding for classrooms and teacher pay.

Favorabilty of the lottery has dropped from a solid majority of Oklahomans in favor when it was first passed to a minority of Oklahomans in favor in in March of 2009.

In 2009, Henry was again at odds with voters when he accepted all funds allocated to Oklahoma from the national stimulus bill.  In a study conducted in April 2009, SoonerPoll found that 44 percent of Oklahomans said that they think Henry should only accept funds with no strings attached while only 21.1 percent said he should accept all funds.

Many of the results mentioned in this story came from the Oklahoma Poll, which is commissioned by the Tulsa World.

The two most recent scientific surveys were conducted by SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, using live interviewers by telephone of 753 likely voters from Oct. 18 – 23 and 518 likely voters from Nov. 5 – 11. The studies had a margin of error of ± 3.57 percent and ± 4.3 percent respectively.

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A recent SoonerPoll shows Governor Brad Henry’s approval ratings remain high, despite being opposite voters on many initiatives.

The poll results show two out of every three Oklahomans approve of the job Governor Brad Henry has performed so far in this term. However, results also show many of the same respondents disapprove of many of his initiatives and support many that he has vetoed.

In the same poll, respondents said that they approve English as the official state language, they do not approve of Henry accepting stimulus funds for the state, that they approve mandating voter identification and that they have mixed feelings of the state lottery. Although Henry has taken the opposing side on all these issues his approval rating remains high.

SoonerPoll asked Oklahoma’s likely voters what they thought of Henry and other elected officials.

Henry received the highest rating with 66.3 percent of Oklahoma’s likely voters approving of his job performance compared to Senator Inhofe’s 62.3 percent, Senator Coburn’s 60.4 percent and President Obama’s 46.5 percent.

Governor Henry has long received such Oklahoma approval, but, as polls now indicate, that may be changing. Henry has enjoyed approval numbers in the 75-85 percent range when first elected and even held strong in the 70 percent range over the last two years, however, Oklahoma disapproval of Obama may be spilling over into Henry’s approval.

SoonerPoll’s public opinion polls use a scientific random sample to consistently test Oklahoma’s likeliest voters’ political views and track them over time. The survey used in this analysis had a sample sizes of 318 Oklahoma residents (with a margin of error of ± 5.5%). The study used in this release was conducted via telephone between April 23-26, 2009.

Further analysis reveals that…

• As a respondent’s self-described political beliefs move from liberal to conservative, the likelihood of approving Henry decreases dramatically; 100% of those who are very liberal approve of Henry while only 41.5% of very conservative approve;

• Democrats are almost twice as likely to approve of Henry as are Republicans (83.3% v. 48.9%);

• Approval is fairly consistent no matter the age of the respondent;

• Three in every four rural Oklahomans approve of Henry; OKC residents were least in approval (Tulsa 63.9%, OKC 59.5, rest of state 74.2);

• 61.9% of those who consider themselves to be Evangelical Christians approve of Henry’s performance as Governor;

• As a respondent’s likelihood of actually voting increases, approval for Henry decreases;

• Those who believe Henry should accept all stimulus funds are largely in approval (91%) of the elected official compared to those who think he should accept only those without strings (67.1%) and those who think he should refuse all funds (40.3%).

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