Tags Posts tagged with "bill shapard"

bill shapard

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President Obama standing in front of oil and gas piping in Cushing, Oklahoma 2012

The simplest way to explain Pres. Barack Obama’s unpopularity in Oklahoma is a left-of-center, Harvard-educated, Chicago-politician doesn’t fit in with the Okie style of politics. But is it Obama or a symptom of a larger disease wiping out a Democrat’s chances of taking Oklahoma’s electoral votes?

Consider this: Obama’s vote percentage in the most recent SoonerPoll was 29%.  In comparison to the Tulsa World’s Oklahoma Poll results over the last two decades, that’s lower than Pres. Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal or Gov. David Walters’ midnight court arraignments over campaign finance charges.  And yet, Pres. Obama has not been involved in a similar scandal or charged with a crime.

It is no longer a secret how much Oklahoma voters disapprove of Obama. Even national political pundits know the Sooner state ranks at the top of the states Obama is least likely to win this November. The latest SoonerPoll results of the president’s popularity show him losing to Republican Mitt Romney by nearly 30 points. Since he became president, Obama has never had more than 34 percent of Oklahomans approving the job he has done in the White House.

The president’s in-state numbers show he doesn’t just have problems with moderate and independent voters, but nearly half of voters in the President’s own Democratic Party are not keen with him. The SoonerPoll survey found only 54 percent of Democrats in the poll said they will vote for Obama. During the state’s primary election in June, Obama barely had more than 50 percent of Oklahoma Democrats’ vote for him.

So the question persists: is it the President or is there something else causing even Oklahoma Democrats to shy away from their leader?

Terry Endsley, who participated in the poll, has been a registered Democrat his entire voting life down in a traditional Democrat strong-hold of McCurtain County. He says the reason he is voting for Romney is not just because of Obama.

“I don’t like the Democratic leadership,” Endsley said. “Obama, (Nancy) Pelosi, (Harry) Reid, I don’t like any of them.”

Endsley said he votes for the person, not the party, but is increasingly finding himself siding with Republicans more than his registered party. The last Democrat he remembers supporting for president was Bill Clinton. That was 16 years ago.

“It’s been decades in the making, but more and more Democrats in Oklahoma have subtlety described their move away from voting for the Democratic candidate as ‘voting for the person and not the party,'” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “There was a time when Democratic leaders would encourage voters to ‘pull the rooster tail,’ in essence voting straight-party Democrat.  Those days of getting registered Democrats to do it seem to be gone.”

Dr. Jeanette Mendez, head of the Political Science Department at Oklahoma State University, defines it as an identification issue.  “Oklahoma once had strong ties with the Democratic party and the change to voting Republican has occurred in the last few decades,” said Dr. Mendez, “but people have not necessarily changed their party identification. ”

Perhaps the tectonic plates of party identification and registration, that have been slowly moving for decades, have moved enough for us to see a more measurable change.   But, has the convergence of conservatism and the GOP become permanent,and can or will it ever move back?

“Oklahoma is a conservative state, and I think this is intensifying,” said Mendez.  “We see Republicans in Oklahoma gain in the state House and Senate, and I think these gains start to show why Obama has a few points lower support overall than in 2008.”

And then there is Oklahoma’s largest industry, oil and natural gas.  By no means can Obama be considered ‘friendly’ to an industry that surveys have shown many Oklahomans recognize as a major employer of high paying jobs in the state and its impact on the Oklahoma economy.

“The President is more than just hostile to the oil and gas industry,” said Mike Cantrell, Co-Founder of OERB and VP of Governmental Affairs with Continental Resources in Oklahoma City.  “If he could rid the U.S. of all fossil fuels, he would, putting thousands of Oklahomans directly out of a job and thousands even more indirectly out of one.”

Cantrell credits the OERB, Oklahoma Energy Resource Board, as the reason more and more Oklahomans see the importance of oil and gas to the state, noting that just 15 years ago many Oklahomans were simply unaware of the economic impact of the industry on the state.  “Oklahomans are voting today with more information than ever, knowing more of what directly would impact their families and which candidates support or oppose those issues.”

Pat Hall, former State Democratic Party Chairman, believes Obama’s number will improve and that this will surprise a lot of Oklahomans.

“By November 6,  women, African Americans and Latinos especially in urban areas along with moderate Democrats,” said Hall, “will become more educated on the candidates and vote to re-elect President Obama.  But,” Hall concedes, “the seven electoral votes from Oklahoma will be cast for Governor Romney.”

Hall is not alone in his assessment and the numbers may prove him right.  The Hispanic and Latino community is the fastest growing population in Oklahoma as reported from the 2012 census, Romney has had a difficult time appealing to women, and African Americans set a turnout record in 2008 for Obama, which can be underestimated this year in polling turnout projections.

Dr. Mendez went on to note that there is a lot left in the campaign and Oklahoma has quite a few independents.  “These independents can bridge the gap to bring Obama’s numbers closer to what they were in 2008,” said Mendez.  “But based on what is shown here and the  trends in the state elections in 2008 and 2010, Obama will not do better than he did in 2008, and most likely will do worse.”

Turnout and enthusiasm are always critical elements for Election Day.  In 2010, both were on the side of Republicans who gained a complete sweep of every statewide office, as well as adding to its majorities in the State House and Senate.  While it was widely argued that the 2010 election was a referendum on President Obama, he was, nonetheless, not on the ballot and African American voters may now meet or exceed this November the record turnout in 2008.

In nationwide polling so far, enthusiasm however seems to be on the side of Republicans, but there is still a lot of time on clock until Election Day for that to change.

Dr. Richard Johnson, Chair of the Political Science Department at Oklahoma City University, questions whether Oklahomans are more pro-Romney or just anti-Obama.

Oklahoma is among the most conservative states in the country and voting trends favor Republicans generally in Oklahoma,” said Johnson.  “But, the question is, do the results reflect an endorsement of Governor Romney or a repudiation of President Obama?”

Another poll participant put it this way.  Clint Johnson, a Democrat in one of the party’s last remaining comfort zones of Cherokee County, said he is choosing Romney as the lesser of two evils.  “I think we’re screwed either way,” he said.

Bill Clinton was also the last Democratic presidential candidate to get Johnson’s vote. He feels the party has left him.  “The Democratic Party of 10 years ago is not the same Democratic Party today,” Johnson said.

 

Oklahoma Political Experts

 

“Governor Romney will win Oklahoma and I trust the results of the Sooner Poll when it comes to the Presidential preference in 2012 for those Oklahoma ‘likely voters’ over 45 years of age that are white.  I think President Obama will surprise a lot of Oklahomans on election day.  I believe that this excellent poll can only give a snapshot in time of where younger voters, African American voters and Latino voters are today and sadly too few of them are willing to be surveyed.  By November 6th  women, African Americans and Latinos especially in urban areas along with moderate Democrats will become more educated on the candidates and vote to re-elect President Obama.  But, the seven electoral votes from Oklahoma will be cast for Governor Romney.”  – Pat Hall, former State Democratic Party Chairman

 

“I would  have to say that I am not shocked by the polling results.  Oklahoma is among the most conservative states in the country and Governor Romney is much closer to most Oklahomans on issues and ideology than President Obama.  Voting trends favor Republicans generally in Oklahoma and the current president failed to carry a single county in Oklahoma when he ran for his first term in 2008.  The question is, do the results reflect an endorsement of Governor Romney or a repudiation of President Obama?” – Dr. Richard Johnson, Chair for the Department of Political Science at Oklahoma City University

 

“There is an identification issue.  Oklahoma once had strong ties with the Democratic Party and the change to voting Republican has occurred in the last few decades, but people have not necessarily changed their party identification.  Among those identifying themselves as very liberal or somewhat liberal, Obama polls very well.  Another 153 report being moderate and it looks like the moderates are in fact Democrats.  However, combing liberal and moderate still falls short of the total number of people who say they are Democrats.  Based on this, I don’t find it surprising to see Democrats voting for Obama, because it looks like the Democrats might not be traditional Democrats.

 Oklahoma is a conservative state.   Being the only state in the nation to have all counties vote for McCain shows how conservative Oklahoma is.  And I think this is intensifying.  We see Republicans in Oklahoma gain in the state House and Senate, and I think these gains start to show why Obama has a few points lower support overall than in 2008.

Obama polls well among most of the groups people who identify as the Democratic base, in particular those 18-24, African Americans and those with income below $25,000.  If you look at the income distribution in Oklahoma with respect to party, Eastern Oklahoma stands out with higher rates of poverty, and also more Democrats elected to the state House and Senate and Congress compared to the rest of Oklahoma.  Given this, I would expect a certain amount of support for Obama, and much of it in urban areas and Eastern Oklahoma.

There is a lot left in the campaign and Oklahoma has quite a few independents.  These independents can bridge the gap to bring Obama’s numbers closer to what they were in 2008.  But based on what is shown here and the trends in the state elections in 2008 and 2010, Obama will not do better than he did in 2008, and most likely will do worse.” – Dr. Jeanette Mendez, Political Science Department Head at Oklahoma State University

 

“The President is more than just hostile to the oil and gas industry. If he could rid the U.S. of all fossil fuels, he would, putting thousands of Oklahomans directly out of a job and thousands even more indirectly out of one. The President has not shied away from using any and every department of his administration to further regulate the oil and gas industry, pushing production down and prices at the pump up.

The OERB, Oklahoma Energy Resource Board, is the reason more and more Oklahomans see the importance of oil and gas to the state, which has spent nearly two decades educating the public of the economic impact of the industry on the state.  Oklahomans are voting today with more information than ever, knowing more of what directly would impact their families and  their jobs, and which candidates support or oppose those issues.”  — Mike Cantrell, Co-Founder of OERB and VP of Governmental Affairs with Continental Resources


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A majority of likely Oklahoma voters polled say they would support legislation that would require the Oklahoma state legislature to abide by the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts, according to a recent SoonerPoll survey.

The Open Meetings and Open Records Acts make up a set of rules which are designed to ensure transparency in government. Currently the Oklahoma state legislature is exempt from compliance.

When asked whether they would support or oppose legislation that would bring the state legislature into compliance, 85 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled said they would support the legislation.

By comparison, 7.8 percent said they opposed the legislation and 7.2 percent had no opinion.

“The people of Oklahoma know that it is absolutely hypocritical for the state legislature to make laws to have transparency of government entities and then to exempt themselves from those exact same laws,” Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said.

“It’s not right and the people know it.”

In February, Murphey introduced HB 1085, which, if passed, would make the Legislature subject to the Open Records and Open Meetings Acts.

Murphey said that anytime taxpayer dollars are spent to produce a record or to have a meeting, taxpayers have a right to observe those proceedings and to view and keep those records.

“Overtime, those [Open Records and Open Meetings] laws have worked out very well and it has become an important part of the ethics of the Oklahoma governance structure,” Murphey said. “It’s far past time for those same laws to be applied to the Oklahoma legislature.”

HB1085 passed in the Government Modernization Committee last week on an 8-3 vote and is now eligible to be heard on the House Floor.

Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, helped author the legislation and intends to introduce the bill in the Senate if it is successful in the House.

“Sen. Holt in the senate made a big stride forward when he came out in support of it,” Murphey said. “That means that we now have support and advocates in both the chambers, which is very important.”

Murphey said he is hopeful that the legislation will be passed despite opposition from legislators who have “become comfortable with the secrecy that surrounds the proceedings.”

Additional analysis of the data reveals bipartisan support for removing the open records and meetings acts exemption for the Legislature.

Crosstab analysis indicates that 85 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats would support legislation.  Independents showed the most support with 93.1 percent in favor of removing the exemption.

Similarly, 84.5 percent of conservatives, 90.7 percent of liberals and 85.9 percent of moderates said they would support legislation to remove the exemption.

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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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum leads the pack of Republican primary candidates in Oklahoma, but voters think some candidates are better than others when it comes to certain attributes, according to a recent SoonerPoll study.

Results indicate that a plurality of likely Republican primary voters think Santorum is the best candidate when it comes to honesty and ability to understand the problems facing people like them.  However, pluralities of Republican voters said that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the strongest leader with the best experience.

Despite believing that other candidates are better suited for the Republican nomination, a plurality of Republican voters said that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has the best chance to beat President Barack Obama in the general election.

SoonerPoll CEO, Bill Shapard Jr., presented the results at a Republican primary panel discussion held Tuesday.

Shapard said that as voters begin to coalesce around a particular candidate in a typical election, it is rare to find a different candidate leading in particular attributes.

“When people begin to pick a candidate, they think not only do they have the best chance of winning, they think they are also the strongest leader, they also think that it’s somebody that understands the problems of people like them,” Shapard said.

“That is not the case here in Oklahoma.”

Republican Primary Panel Discussion

On February 28, 2012, SoonerPoll.com released GOP primary poll results and hosted a discussion panel to start a dialogue in the media.  The panel featured guests Keith Gaddie, Sheryl Lovelady, and Karl Ahlgren, as well as SoonerPoll CEO Bill Shapard.

Republican consultant Karl Ahlgren said he thinks the reason Romney is seen as the best candidate to beat Obama is because of the size of his campaign.

“Obviously Romney has the most money the most ability to get his message out and so that is what voters are looking at,” Ahlgren said.  “We may not like everything about him, but we feel like he is the best person that can represent us.”

Sheryl Lovelady, a former Democratic consultant, said that though a candidate’s ability to beat Obama has been an important characteristic for voters thus far, she doesn’t think it’s a sustainable characteristic for the future.

“At the end of the day, voters want to be for something and not just against something,” Lovelady said.

Political Science Professor Keith Gaddie agreed with Lovelady’s assessment and went on to say that he feels there is a race to the bottom in the GOP primary.

“It keeps moving so far to the right, and so far away from those issues that affect everyday voters,” Gaddie said. “It makes it hard for the GOP and the eventual nominee to move back to the center.”

Referring again to the recent results, Shapard pointed out that Romney does better among liberal and moderate Republicans, while Gingrich and Santorum lead among conservatives.

“The voters are really identifying well the ideological perspective of the candidates themselves and it is pretty much aligning that way,” Shapard said.

Download the Republican Primary Panel presentation or the toplines and crosstabs for the survey.

Lovelady echoed Gaddie’s earlier evaluation.

“The longer they run the more conservative they get and the more people in the electorate they disenfranchise,” Lovelady said.  ”It will be very interesting to see if they are so far out there that they can’t appeal then to the middle of the country.”

Other results from the same SoonerPoll study find three Republican primary candidates polling above 50 percent in favorability.

When asked whether they had favorable or unfavorable opinions of the candidates, 70.3 percent of respondents said they had favorable opinions of Rick Santorum, 57.3 percent had favorable opinions of Mitt Romney, and 55.6 percent had favorable opinions of Newt Gingrich.

Ron Paul was the only GOP candidate who had more unfavorable opinions than favorable opinions, with 49.3 percent unfavorable and just 35.7 percent favorable.

Sheryl Lovelady said the results highlight what has been the story of the 2012 Republican primary election from the beginning, “there is no real consensus among Republican voters.”

“We’ve seen consistently over a period of months and months and months that there is not one candidate that’s breaking away from the fray, Oklahoma is really no exception,” Lovelady said.

Keith Gaddie said that the up and down of the candidates is driven by the fact that none of them are satisfactory candidates for the majority of Republican voters.

“Absent some strong candidate who they find persuasive, these voters are falling back on those attributes of themselves that they look for in candidates,” Gaddie said. “In Oklahoma, because we have such a strong socially conservative base these voters are falling back to that core principles candidate, which in the current environment is Rick Santorum.”

Bill Shapard cautioned that though Santorum is the current front-runner in Oklahoma, this election cycle has seen the rise and fall of many GOP primary candidates.

“As a pollster I would only say that that’s where the numbers sit as of this moment and that is what we would probably anticipate would carry forward if the election were today,” Shapard said.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned this poll.  SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific poll Feb. 8 – 16, 2012.  The survey was administered via telephone interview to 300 likely Oklahoma voters who were selected at random.  All respondents who took the survey identified themselves as Republicans and said they planned to vote in the March 6th primary election.   The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 percentage points.

 

Panelists

Bill Shapard Jr., CEO of SoonerPoll.com, is the state’s leading media pollster, having conducted more publicly-released polls since 2006 in the state of Oklahoma than all other pollsters combined.  Bill is a frequent political commentator and has conducted the Tulsa World’s Oklahoma Poll since 2005.

 

Keith Gaddie, PhD, is a Political Science Professor at the University of Oklahoma and a frequent political commentator for many local, national and international media outlets. Keith is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of fourteen booksKeith and Kelly Damphousse (Sociology) are the newly appointed editors of Social Science Quarterly.

 

Sheryl Lovelady is Director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at the University of Oklahoma. For the past two decades, Lovelady has worked throughout the United States as a political consultant. Today, along with her role at OU, she owns a private communications and public policy firm.

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 Karl Ahlgren, co-owner and general partner of AH Strategies, a Republican political relations firm with offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  A 28-year veteran of Oklahoma government and politics, Ahlgren has a client list that includes more than 40 current members of the Oklahoma Legislature. Ahlgren served for 2-years as co-secretary of the State Senate during its historic tie.

 

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum leads the pack of Republican primary candidates in Oklahoma, according to a recent SoonerPoll survey.

If the election were held today, 38.5 percent of likely Republican voters who plan to participate in the March 6 GOP primary said they would cast their vote for Santorum.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would finish in second place with 23 percent.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who led Oklahoma when SoonerPoll last polled the race in December, fell to third place with just 18 percent.  Results indicate that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul would receive just 7.6 percent of the vote.

During the SoonerPoll survey fielding process, Santorum experienced a meteoric rise in the nationwide polls after sweeping the Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado primaries in early February.  Santorum has since eclipsed Romney as the nationwide front-runner in the Gallup Poll.

Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll, says Santorum’s lead in the recent SoonerPoll and his recent national attention is not coincidental.

“When we last polled the race, Santorum received just 1.5 percent of the vote.  Since then he’s won the primary in Iowa which gave him the boost he needed to win several other key states,” Shapard said.  “Oklahomans are beginning to think that if people in other states think he can win, maybe we should too.”

See Complete Data and Analysis

Additional analysis reveals that Santorum is the favorite candidate of conservative Republicans.  Of those respondents who consider themselves conservative, 42.7 percent said they would vote for Santorum.

With 21.1 percent of conservative respondents said they would vote for him, Gingrich also finishes better among conservatives. By comparison, just 17.4 percent of conservative said they would vote for Romney.

“Results indicate that Santorum has what it takes to energize the Republican base in Oklahoma, but making sure that the more moderate and liberal Republicans get out and vote is also crucial,” Shapard said.

Further analysis of the crosstabs reveals that 42.1 percent plurality of moderate and liberal Republicans said they would vote for Romney.  By comparison, 24.5 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans said they would vote for Santorum, while Ron Paul would receive 19.3 percent.

Other stark differences between Santorum supporters and Romney supporters are evident when results are broken down by religious attendance.

A 50.9 percent majority of those who say they attend religious services several times a week said they would vote for Santorum.  Inversely, a 37.5 percent plurality of those who say they never attend church said they would vote for Romney.

In an interview with Michael Konopasek of News9, SoonerPoll’s vice president Keith Gaddie said “There’s an old saying in Oklahoma politics that given the choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, the Oklahoma Democrat will take the real Republican every time … they like genuine Republicans.”

Gaddie went on to tell Konopasek that “a genuine, socially conservative Republican is what Oklahomans see in Santorum.”

SoonerPoll plans to continue to poll the 2012 presidential election in the months ahead.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned this poll.  SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific poll Feb. 8 – 16, 2012.  The survey was administered via telephone interview to 300 likely Oklahoma voters who were selected at random.  All respondents who took the survey identified themselves as Republicans  and said they planned to vote in the March 6th primary election.   The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 percentage points.

 

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By Kim McConnell, Lawton Constitution Writer

Area Republicans apparently don’t like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and seem to be leaning toward Rick Santorum, although they are ready to support the Republican who has the best chance of beating President Barack Obama in November.

Seven Lawton-area Republicans expressed their views on the 2012 presidential election, Republican candidates and the Republican Party in general during a focus group discussion conducted Thursday by SoonerPoll.com.

While the seven vary in age, the degree of conservatism at which they ranked themselves and exactly who has the best chance of beating Obama, they agree with or consider themselves “Tea Partiers” who believe the Republican Party must stop its internal bickering and focus on the business of nominating a viable candidate to reclaim the White House.

Focus Group of Republican Primary Voters in the Lawton Area

SoonerPoll.com partnered with the Lawton Constitution to bring you a focus group of Republican Primary voters in the Lawton Area.  During the Focus Group, which was held on Feb. 16, 2012, participants discussed candidates and other primary issues.

The split among preferred candidates seems to be reflective of the party as a whole: Many focus group members said they expect to see a “brokered convention,” predicting no one Republican candidate will secure enough delegates to cast himself in the role of party nominee by the August convention.

Four of the seven said Santorum has their vote. Two are undecided, while one supports Newt Gingrich and another Ron Paul.

The split among preferred candidates seems to be reflective of the party as a whole: Many focus group members said they expect to see a “brokered convention,” predicting no one Republican candidate will secure enough delegates to cast himself in the role of party nominee by the August convention.

It was Ralph Mattioli who first predicted Republicans will see a brokered convention.

“The Republican Party is not ready to anoint anyone yet,” he said, drawing nods from almost every other member of the group.

Georgia Williams said that may be the best tactic, explaining the party “made a great mistake when
we took McCain as our candidate (in 2008). The elite Republican establishment is behind Romney, but
he does not have the support of the grassroots and Tea Party,” she said, explaining Obama is inadequate because he has surrounded himself with inadequate advisors and she predicted Romney would do the
same thing.

Focus group members said they don’t think Romney’s religion will be an overwhelming issue, especially among the party’s young voters, but some acknowledged they know people who won’t vote for him specifically because he is a Mormon.

“I think it can,” said Colleen Miller about the impact of Romney’s faith, explaining she listens to Christian radio and heard one woman say she can’t support Romney because he is Mormon.

“I’m not electing a religious leader,” Williams said, noting she’s casting her vote for a secular leader.

Both women said Romney’s faith won’t affect their decision and Ronnie Graves said he doesn’t believe religion will affect most voting Republicans.

“It’s a nobrainer,” he said, of Republican voters who are searching for the best candidate to beat Obama. “I’d vote for a Mormon before I’d vote for Obama.”

Ken Lowmiller said the issue of Romney’s faith is similar to arguments in the late 1960s that John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism would keep him out of the White House, and he doesn’t believe the question of faith is even a consideration for the party’s younger members.  Mattioli agreed.

“Barack Obama is the driving force for all our votes,” Mattioli said. “I don’t care who (the Republican nominee) is.”

So who is electable?

Lowmiller said the best qualified candidate is Newt Gingrich, noting the candidate has an impressive background, is a strong debater and has worked well with Democrats. Gingrich did have personal problems, but he has overcome them, Lowmiller said.  Mattioli said Gingrich also is helping to destroy the Republican Party, explaining Gingrich is among the Republicans who are tearing down members of their own party, someone willing to unleash “a barrage against anybody he thought would be better than him.” That bickering and back-biting drew criticism from every member of the focus group, with Williams noting it has fragmented the party and “will make it easier to get us beat.”

Joe English said he is supporting Ron Paul, noting that, among other things, he likes Paul’s stance on overseas intervention. He said the nation has a knack for getting involved in foreign affairs best left to the countries in question.

“We’re going to use the American strong arm thing. That don’t always work,” he said.

English also noted rumors that Romney will ask Ron Paul to be his running mate, a move that could bring many more people into Romney’s camp.

“People who are for Ron Paul will vote for him until his name isn’t on the ballot,” English said.

Four other members of the focus group said Santorum has the best chance to win in November. Graves said he likes Santorum’s stance on God, family and country.

“The moral fabric of this country has been destroyed in four years,” he said, noting Santorum will reverse that trend.

Lowmiller said Santorum is strong on family issues, while Miller said he is strong on defense. Robert Hernandez, who is supporting Santorum, said he brings much to the table, noting of Gingrich, another
popular choice, “Newt sounds so good, but he brings baggage in.” Lowmiller said Gingrich won’t be the only candidate to arrive with baggage.

“Obama’s baggage hasn’t been brought out yet,” he said, noting of the Democrat president “now he has
record.”

Focus group members said Obama’s decisions as president will be used against him. Hernandez said the nation’s military might has slipped in the Obama years, noting “Iran laughs at us.”

“All we’ve done in the last three years is go around and apologize,” Graves said, noting budget cuts could be made to tighten up the military “without cutting it to the bone.”

Lowmiller said the nation can’t have a president that “goes and bows” to foreign leaders.

“I almost lost a TV over that,” English said, drawing laughter from other members of the group.

“What we’ve lacked in the last three years is common sense — and not just in the White House,” Graves said.

The focus group said Republican party leaders don’t or won’t understand what rank and file members want.

“The Republican elite are not in tune with the grassroots,” Lowmiller said.

When Shapard asked members to identify the Republican elite, Miller said they are “the heads of the party,” while Mattioli identified them as “Republicans inside the Beltway” and Williams said the party’s elite are those controlled by big money and “don’t want change.”

Shapard suggested that, in Oklahoma, the Republican elite got behind former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys in his bid for U.S. Senate, the race that took Tom Coburn to Washington, D.C., as Oklahoma’s senator.   Coburn, who said he won’t serve more than two terms, drew a positive response when Shapard suggested him as a possible vice president candidate.

“He’ll fight the battle until it’s over,” Graves said.

But, Mattioli said Coburn won’t do anything for the ticket, so he won’t get the nomination.

“We need someone who will help win a national election,” he said. “The reality is: This nation won’t elect a true conservative.”

Williams said the issue is name recognition, explaining “Nationwide, Tom doesn’t have it.” Graves disagreed, saying Coburn is a good choice because “he’s a man of principle, a man of common sense” and it is crucial that Republicans exercise common sense when designating a presidential nominee.

Who will be the final choice for Republicans?

“We need to go back to God, family and country,” Hernandez said. “Those three things tie the country together.”

Editor’s note: SoonerPoll.com, an Oklahoma public opinion polling firm recruited, at random, nine Lawton-area Republican voters for a focus group discussion of the Republican presidential primary candidates and the June primary. The focus group was moderated by Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com, and held at the offices of The Lawton Constitution. Although a focus group is not intended to be representative of the population at large, the participants selected are geographically diverse and support a variety of candidates.

 

 

 

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BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has surged to the front among Oklahoma’s Republican voters, according to a SoonerPoll.com survey released Sunday.

Santorum was the first choice of 39 percent of the 278 likely voters who said they planned to participate in the March 6 state GOP primary.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, first in a survey conducted last fall, dropped to third, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who remained second.

Romney, generally considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, was at 23 percent, followed by Gingrich at 18.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was at 8 percent, and 13 percent were undecided.

Twenty-two of the 300 Republicans in the original sample either said they don’t intend to vote in the primary or weren’t sure if they would.

The survey was conducted Feb. 8-16, after Santorum picked up victories in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, and partly after appearances in Oklahoma City and Tulsa on Feb. 9.

“Because Oklahoma is not a leading primary state, and because one party takes it for granted and the other thinks it has no chance, the candidates don’t spend much time here,” said SoonerPoll.com President Bill Shapard.

“Romney has remained pretty steady,” Shapard said. “His share is relatively unchanged.”

The “non-Romney” Republicans, he said, seem to be still looking for a favorite.

“That’s why the seeming movement from Newt Gingrich to Rick Santorum,” Shapard said.

Shapard pointed out that Santorum had been mostly in single digits, nationally and in Oklahoma, until winning narrowly in the Iowa caucuses. His three victories early this month may have convinced voters he can win.

“Rick Santorum was being held back by the fact that he was not well-known enough,” Shapard said. “Oklahomans may be beginning to think that if people in other states think he can win, why shouldn’t we.”

About the poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific telephone survey of 300 likely Republican voters in Oklahoma from Feb. 8-16. Likely voters are those who have established a frequent voting pattern. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 percentage points.

Read more at TulsaWorld.com

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By Randy Krehbiel World Staff Writer

Newt Gingrich’s charisma and intelligence may trump all other considerations for Tulsa-area Republicans, a focus group of likely voters in the March 6 GOP primary indicated last week.

The 11 registered Republicans with a history of voting in primary elections were assembled by SoonerPoll.com at the Tulsa World offices three days after Gingrich’s victory in the South Carolina primary pushed him to the front of the GOP presidential field.

The focus group included six men and five women. Four identified themselves as Gingrich supporters, two for Mitt Romney, one for Ron Paul and one for Rick Santorum. Three said they were undecided, and one Romney supporter said she was now leaning to Gingrich.

“I think I feel the way I’ve already heard some of you speak,” said Denise Miller of Tulsa. “With Romney, I don’t feel convinced that I know what he stands for or doesn’t.

“So there is Newt, who is a little bit of a loose cannon … but, by golly, you know where that man stands.”

Several indicated a true preference for Herman Cain, who is no longer actively campaigning, and at least one said Michele Bachmann, another candidate who’s fallen by the wayside, was his first choice.

Real estate developer Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida were also mentioned as “dream” candidates.

All said it is imperative Republicans ultimately unite behind one candidate to defeat President Barack Obama in November.

Read the rest of the article at www.tulsaworld.com

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A majority of likely Oklahoma voters support removing the law that allows state employees the option of having their public employee association dues, formerly known as union dues, withheld from their paycheck, according to a recent SoonerPoll.com study.

The study found that 56 percent of respondents would like to see the state government removed from the employee association dues collection process.  By comparison, 32.3 percent of respondents said they opposed removing the provision, while 11.7 percent had no opinion.

In 2001, voters passed Right-to-Work in Oklahoma, which says that an employee has a right to work for a company or a state or local government without having to join a union.  Its passage not only made union membership voluntary, but also changed the existing state’s public employee unions, by definition, to that of employee associations.

Current statutes allow state employees the option of having their employee association dues withheld from their paychecks each month.  Payroll deductions for employee association dues are voluntary and, if an employee elects to have their dues withheld, the state government is required to comply.

“Voters may see the state collecting employee association dues as a remnant of the old system when union membership and the paying of union dues were mandatory,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “Because it is now voluntary and has been since 2001, voters may view association dues as any other voluntary or personal expense of the employee and thinking it should be treated as such.”

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Voluntary payroll deductions for professional organizations in Oklahoma dates back to a 1977 Extraordinary Session of the 36th Oklahoma Legislature.  During that session, legislation that provided school district employees the option of having both professional organization dues and political contributions deducted from their paycheck was ratified.

In 1984, the legislature extended voluntary payroll deductions for professional organization dues to the membership of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.

Current Oklahoma law also allows state employees to make voluntary payroll deductions for retirement plans, supplemental insurance plans, approved charities, payments to Oklahoma banks or credit unions, or other state-approved entities.

The state pays for the administrative costs of processing payroll deductions by levying a 2 percent charge on the gross annual premiums for insurance plans and a 1 percent charge on the gross annual payments for retirement plans.

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello  supports removing the state government from the collection employee association dues.

“Many of the associations benefiting from state payroll deductions have lobbyists and PAC’s,” Costello said.  “Right now, the partisan political activities of some employees are being subsidized by all employees who have state insurance or retirement plans, and ending payroll deductions for employee associations will remove politics from the paychecks of government workers.”

Additional poll analysis reveals that majorities of both Republicans and Democrats support changing the law.  Results show that 58.1 percent of Republicans and 52.4 percent of Democrats support the ending the state’s processing of employee association dues.

The study did find that division grows when results are broken down by political label.  Crosstab data indicates that 60.8 percent of conservative respondents support removing the deductions compared to just 40.7 percent of liberal respondents.

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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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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