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keith gaddie

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Republicans remain more enthusiastic than Democrats in voting this year as in 2010, and Independents increased their enthusiasm in both general elections since 2008, according to a new poll by SoonerPoll.com.

The phone survey of 305 likely voting Oklahomans show 60% of Independents were more enthusiastic in voting this year than in previous elections, Republicans were 58% and Democrats were 46%.

While Independents only make up about five to seven percent of the turnout on Election Day, there may not be much to read into how this will affect the election here in Oklahoma.  But, all eyes are on the Republican and Democrat enthusiasm, where Republicans continue to out-pace Democrats — this year by just 13 points.

Here is another way to look at it.  Among just those in the poll who said they were more enthusiastic about voting this time than previous elections, slightly more than half (51%) were Republicans compared to 43% for Democrats.  Likewise, 59% of those who said they were less enthusiastic were Democrats compared to only 34% of Republicans.

An even more stark difference was found among respondents’ vote choice for president.  Among those most enthusiastic in voting, 68% were voting for Governor Mitt Romney while only 30% for President Barack Obama, a whopping 38 point spread.

For the state’s Democrats, this may not be a good sign as enthusiasm, or lack of it, at the top of the ballot can have an impact on voter turnout in down ticket races, such as those for the state house and senate.

“Romney supporters are finally getting more excited than Obama’s,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “Enthusiasm gets voters to the polls, more volunteers in the door, and money in the campaign account.”

Conservatives in Oklahoma also seem to be driving enthusiasm.  By a net 11 points, conservatives are more enthusiastic than less enthusiastic about voting in this election, but moderates and liberal voters had higher less enthusiasm than more — moderates by 11 points and liberal voters by two.

Most political observers agree that Romney’s increase in enthusiasm dates back to the first debate, in which the president even admitted it wasn’t his best performance.

“Conservatives were not necessarily on board with Romney during the primary,” Shapard said.  “He had been a moderate, pro-choice Republican governor from a blue state, but his performance in the first debate showed conservatives that Romney could potentially beat the president.”

The same trend also is appearing on the national stage.  In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 59 percent of Romney backers voiced “strong enthusiasm” for their candidate, a jump of 11 points in two weeks and a stunning 33-point leap since May.  Enthusiasm for the president was also higher in the same poll, but it was below where it was four years ago.

Nowhere could enthusiasm be more important than among demographic groups which typically have lower voter turnout.  One in particular is younger voters who, in 2008, were critical in the election of President Obama.  Earlier this month, Harvard University released a poll of 18- to 29-year-olds that showed the percent claiming they will definitely vote was down about 15 percentage points from 2008.

In the critical swing state of Ohio, the percentage of those highly enthusiastic is low among younger likely voters, according to the most recent Marist Poll. Of those 18-29, 51 percent said they were very enthusiastic, the lowest percentage among the various age groups.

Keith Gaddie, political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, felt enthusiasm may be best for Romney, but that Obama’s final two weeks was based on a different strategy.

“My conversations with colleagues at the national polling houses indicates that the Romney vote is more closely tied to enthusiasm, while Democratic intention to vote Obama is independent of any enthusiasm for voting,” said Gaddie.  “This presents different closing strategies — the Romney strategy has to be about momentum and enthusiasm, while the Obama strategy is about identification and mobilization.”


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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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.



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.


 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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SoonerPoll added a new question to the most recent Quarterly Poll, that is designed to gain an understanding of why likely Oklahoma voters feel the way they do about their elected officials.

We asked likely Oklahoma voters “What one word best describes your impression of Tom Coburn?”

Results reveal that 37 respondents answered ‘Conservative,’  making it the most popular response.    ‘Good’ and ‘Honest’ were the second and third most popular responses with 33 and 32 respondents respectively.

To illustrate these results, all of the responses were entered into a program called Wordle, which creates a “word cloud” that gives frequent responses greater prominence.

“Word clouds are perhaps the single greatest way to visualize one’s brand,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com and Shapard Research, a full service market research specializing in branding research.  “For politicians, their brand is a shorthand for the voter’s experience with them and a promise, of sorts, that past performance will indicate future results.”

“In elections, the candidate’s brand should be considered their greatest asset,” said Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma and vice president at SoonerPoll.com.  “A campaign, at its core, is designed to favorably define its own candidate’s brand and negatively define its opponent’s brand.”

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster commissioned and conducted 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.

To view a high quality version of the word cloud and a list of all the responses, please click here to download the PDF document.

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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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