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brad henry

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In Thomas, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahomans seem to love their governors, whether male or female, Republican, or Democrat.  At least the last few anyway.

The latest SoonerPoll results show Governor Mary Fallin, the state’s first female governor, with a 65.0% combined favorability rating.  Of the near two-thirds with a favorable opinion, 29.6% responded with ‘very favorable’ toward the Governor and 35.4% with ‘somewhat favorable.’  Those with an unfavorable opinion were 24.4%, and 10.7% did not have an opinion.

The same love was also shown for Governor Brad Henry during his tenure with approval ranging from 62% to as high as 83% during the five years SoonerPoll tracked his approval rating, even when his views or decisions were contrary to those of the Oklahoma public.

During 2011, Fallin’s first year as governor, SoonerPoll measured the Governor’s approval rating which hit a high of 69.3%, but was never below 58%.

Republicans overwhelmingly favored the Governor with an 85.2% in combined favorability.  Of those, near half (48.2%) responded ‘very favorable.’

Results also show nearly half of all Democrats, 48.5%, had a favorable opinion of Fallin, with 39.3% unfavorable.  Fallin’s favorability among Democrats, however, is softer with 13.3% saying they viewed her ‘very favorable’ and 35.3% saying ‘somewhat favorable.’

Interestingly, both Governors Fallin and Henry have or had the approval or favorable rating from about half of voters of the opposite party.  In 2009, Henry gained nearly half of Republicans approval, and Fallin has the favor of nearly half of Democrats.

Conservatives, who make up slightly more than half of the electorate, overwhelmingly favored the governor, with 56.4% of moderates favoring her as well.  Those who attend church once or more per week, which make up 60% of the electorate, also favored her at a ratio of two to one.

Further analysis revealed:

  • Fallin’s highest favorable rating came from her old congressional district, 66.2%, but was not below 61% in any of the other four congressional districts.
  • Very high favorable among Evangelicals at 72.1%, with even a majority among non-Evangelicals at 55.8%.
  • Married respondents favored the governor at 72% as well, but single respondents were only 43.4%.
  • Near half of labor union members, or those living in a union household, favored the governor at 49.4%.
  • Federal employees favored Fallin (68.4%), state employees (57.5%), local government employees (62.9%).
  • Men were slightly more likely to favor Fallin, 65.7%, to 64.3% for women.
  • Rural Oklahomans favored Fallin the most at 70.4%, compared to 58.6% for Tulsa metro and 62.4% for OKC metro.

The question is, can Fallin maintain these positive ratings until her reelection in 2014?

“The President’s reelection may prove problematic for Mary Fallin in 2013,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “His reelection assures Obamacare remains law and, while it currently remains unpopular among Oklahoma voters, it puts the Governor with some difficult decisions, which may not be popular with the public.”

Shapard went on to note, while Fallin has already announced she will not accept Federal Medicaid dollars, she will have to face public opinion on the decision this year, just as Henry had to with the acceptance of Federal Stimulus dollars in 2009.


About the Poll

Three hundred and five (305) likely voters participated in this study, using a Random Digit Dialing (RDD) technique that included both cell phone and landline telephone numbers. Likely voters were determined by utilizing an industry recognized likely voter screen.The data collection was conducted by phone using live interviewers from October 18-24, 2012. Results were weighted by age, sex, race and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both). A complete description of the methodology can be found at here.

For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5.61 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

As a part of an industry effort, known as the AAPOR Transparency Initiative, to provide more disclosure of how polls are conducted, here is a comprehensive Sample Disposition and Rate Calculations report of this poll, which includes a disposition of all calls made from the sample and calculated response, cooperation, refusal, and contact rates as defined by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

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After nearly a year on the job, 70 percent of likely Oklahoma voters approve of the way Governor Mary Fallin is doing her job, a recent SoonerPoll.com study reveals.

Results from the poll indicate that 69.3 percent of respondents approve, 16.2 percent disapprove, and 14.5 percent either do not have an opinion or do not know Mary Fallin.  The study was fielded between November 17 and December 6, 2011.

Although this is the first time SoonerPoll has released the governor’s approval ratings since she took office last January, it is not the first time the question was polled.  Results from two previous studies show that Fallin held a 63.7 percent approval rating in May before dropping to just  58.1 percent in July.

November’s numbers are a dramatic improvement over July numbers, which followed the ending of the legislative session.  The 2011 legislative session marked the first time in state history that a GOP governor presided over a large GOP majority house and senate.

Fallin’s 69.3 percent approval is still slightly less than Former Governor Brad Henry’s final approval rating of 70.8 percent in January of 2011.  Despite his political affiliation and his tendency to take a stand against popular conservative initiatives in the state, Henry enjoyed remarkably high approval rating throughout his terms as governor.

In Fallin’s first year in office she has already had a lower approval rating than Henry, whose approval never slipped below 62.2 percent at any time during the five years SoonerPoll tracked his approval.

Further crosstab analysis reveals that 77.7 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Independents and 62.4 percent of Democrats all approve of the way the governor is doing her job.  Similarly, a majority of conservative, moderate and liberal respondents approve of the governor.

Before being elected governor in 2010, Fallin served as the congresswoman for Oklahoma’s fifth district.  However, when results are broken down by congressional district, only 69.5 percent of respondents in district 5 approve of the governor, compared to 72.5 percent approval in the district 1 and 72 percent in district 4.

Though Fallin received slightly less support from the congressional district she once represented, she received 72.3 percent approval in the Oklahoma City Metro Surrounding Area (MSA).  By comparison, 68 percent of respondents in the Tulsa MSA and 68.4 percent of respondents in the Rest of State MSA approve of the governor.

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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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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Oklahomans are Worried about Strings Attached to Stimulus Money

Despite Governor Henry accepting all funds allocated to Oklahoma from the national stimulus bill, when asked by SoonerPoll, Oklahoma’s likely voters said that they think Henry should only accept funds with no strings attached (44%). Two of every ten respondents said he should accept all funds regardless of strings and an additional quarter said he should refuse all funds.

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study using a random digit dial method via telephone of 318 likely voters in Oklahoma April 23-26, 2009. The study has a margin of error of ± 5.5%.

Obama’s Stimulus Bill

SoonerPoll.com then questioned Oklahoma’s likely voters on issues of the recent stimulus bill. Of most criticism of such legislation were too much spending in general (79.6%) and concerns of earmarks and pork-barrel (74.8%).

Other stimulus issues asked were controversial as well:

• 62.3% feel that the bill does not provide enough tax cuts for businesses and/or individual tax payers;

• 61.9% feel that the bill contains too much delayed spending on projects that will not start for several years;

• 61.6% feel that the bill does not focus enough on job creation and/or worker training.

Nationally, voters rank too much pork-barrel spending as their number one concern regarding the stimulus bill. Another national major concern is that the bill does not provide enough tax cuts for individual tax payers. Oklahomans have feelings comparable to Americans regarding to pork-barrel spending. They are somewhat less concerned than other Americans about the legislation not providing enough tax cuts to individuals.

Republicans were more likely to criticize the stimulus bill because it includes too much spending in general (97.1%) than Democrats (72.4%) and Independents (72.4%) in Oklahoma. Fifty three (53.1%) of all those who answered that they think Governor Henry should accept all stimulus funds agree that the bill includes too much spending. Indeed, 93.3% of all those who think Henry should only accept funds with not strings attached feel that the bill includes too much spending.

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