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Rick Santorum

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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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