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SoonerPoll, Oklahoma’s most recognized name in public opinion research, recently announced that it now offers a new, low cost public opinion research service. Individuals or organizations interested in low cost branding and awareness research or how the public views issues important to their goals can now take part in “The Quarterly Poll.”

“The Quarterly Poll” is a survey of 500 likely voters across Oklahoma conducted by SoonerPoll once every quarter. Participants add questions to the poll and upon completion receive toplines, crosstabs and assistance disseminating their results to the public, should they choose to do so.

“We have conducted ‘The Quarterly Poll’ on a trial basis for the last couple of quarters,” Bill Shapard, SoonerPoll chief executive, said. “Before the year started, we were approached by an organization interested in utilizing our ability to effectively measure public opinion on a regular basis.”

“We decided to devise a mechanism for others to participate at a lower cost than if they commissioned an independent survey, which eventually grew into ‘The Quarterly Poll.’”

The third installment of “The Quarterly Poll” will go into the field later this month, and according to Shapard, will have the most participants to date.

“We operated the poll on a trial basis to sort of test the waters and see if there would even be any organizations interested in including their issues on the survey,” Shapard said. The poll has become successful and, just through word-of-mouth, the 3rd Quarter survey will have a full slate of questions Shapard said.

Participants on the poll include public policy organizations, statewide associations, public relations and marketing firms, as well as lobbyists, and various print and media outlets. “What is great about this service is that it not only allows organizations to know what public opinion is on an issue now, it provides a cost effective way to conduct time-series analysis of issues or branding questions, over a period of years,” Shapard said.

SoonerPoll is preparing to launch a version of The Quarterly Poll just for businesses that wish to utilize it for branding and perception research.

“Conducting this type of research can be quite expensive,” Shapard said. “But, when companies can participate in a project that is already going into the field they can lower their costs substantially and still get the quality information they need to make informed decisions.”

SoonerPoll is the brand name utilized by Shapard Research’s public opinion research division. Shapard Research has clients across the country as well as in Oklahoma. SoonerPoll has served as the pollster of record for the Tulsa World, and regularly conducts surveys for Griffin Communications, owners of Oklahoma City’s KWTV Channel 9, and Tulsa’s KOTV Channel 6.

For more information on how to take advantage of  “The Quarterly Poll,” contact James Davenport at (405) 607-4664 or by e-mail at james@shapard.com

James Davenport is Shapard Research’s Vice President of Client Relations and a Political Analyst for SoonerPoll.com

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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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In a recent poll conducted by SoonerPoll, 53 percent of likely Oklahoma voters indicated that they would support a proposal to levy a $50 fee on Medicaid enrollees that smoke. The poll also revealed that 38.3 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled would oppose such a proposal, while 8.7 percent had no opinion.

Jason Sutton, Health Care Policy Analyst at the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, said these results show that Oklahomans recognize that unhealthy behaviors drive health costs to unsustainable limits.

“What Oklahomans are saying is that citizens who lead an unhealthy lifestyle in which they engage in unhealthy behavior should be held accountable when it comes to receiving tax payer subsidized health insurance,” Sutton said. “Oklahomans want Medicaid enrollees to have some skin in the game.”

OCPA’s Jason Sutton on Medicaid Fees

SoonerPoll’s Wesley Burt asks Jason Sutton, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Health Care Policy Analyst, about his take on the latest SoonerPoll results concerning a proposal to levy a fee on smokers who recieve Medicaid.

 

The question comes at a time when many states face Medicaid budget cuts while many of their citizens continue to enroll in the program. In April, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer put forward a similar proposal that also extends a $50 fee to both enrollees who smoke and overweight enrollees.

Sutton said that Oklahoma, like many other states, faces a situation similar to Arizona’s as the state’s Medicaid enrollment continues to increase, reaching unsustainable levels.

“The real benefit of extending a fee on unhealthy behavior has less to do with the monetary value of the fee collected and more to do with creating incentives for change.” Sutton said. “If you incentivize people by requiring some cost sharing on unhealthy behaviors then you will see less people engaging in these unhealthy behaviors, which, in the long run, will lower costs for the entire system.”

Crosstab analysis reveals bi partisan support as the percentage of Republicans and Democrats who would support such a proposal is within margin of error. When results are examined by party label it is revealed that conservatives are 10 points more likely to support the proposal than liberals with 54 and 44 percent respectively.

Crosstab analysis indicates no corresponding pattern between income and support. The results do reveal that 55.5 percent of those who make less than $35,000 a year, the most likely to be Medicaid users, would support the proposal.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study 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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A SoonerPoll conducted in May reveals that 54.4 percent of likely Oklahoma voters think the current tax burden is too high. By comparison, 32.6 percent of respondents said they think the tax burden is about right and only 3.3 percent of respondents said the tax burden is too low.

Respondents were read the following question: “According to the Tax Foundation, the average Oklahoman worked from January 1 until April 2, 2011 to earn enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. That’s a total tax burden of roughly 25 percent. Do you think this tax burden is too low, too high, or just about right?”

“These results demonstrate that a majority of Oklahoma voters are rightly concerned with the amount of effort that the average taxpayer has to expend to fund government,” Jonathan Small, CPA and OCPA fiscal policy director, said.  “Oklahoma families are experiencing rising costs in order to purchase essentials such as gasoline, food, clothing and health care. Yet despite a recession, state government spending continues to climb, reaching an all-time high of $16.6 billion in Fiscal Year-2010.”

OCPA’s Brandon Dutcher on Taxes

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Michael Carnuccio asks the Vice President for Policy Brandon Dutcher for his take on the latest SoonerPoll results concerning taxes.

 

When broken down by political party, the results reveal a similar “too low” response rate from Republican and Democratic respondents as 3.4 and 3.6 percent respectively answering “too low.” However, results also indicate that Republicans are 11.4 percentage points more likely to think the tax burden is too high while Democrats are 8.8 percentage points more likely to say “just about right.”

On the same poll, respondents were asked the following open‐ended question: “In your view, what is the maximum tax burden (federal, state, and local combined) a citizen should be required to shoulder?”

Results show that 53.3 percent of respondents indicated a percentage less than 25 percent, the number which was described in the preceding question as the percentage that the “average Oklahoman” pays each year.

According to the poll, 18.5 percent of respondents preferred a tax burden of 10 percent, while 17.7 percent preferred 15 percent. Results reveal that 17.9 percent of likely voters polled chose a response between 25 and 40 percent.

“Unfortunately, the politics of envy have historically been what have determined tax burdens,” Small said. “Policymakers need to ask a fundamental question: What portion of a person’s income – his property – should we take from him to fund government? And before we answer that question it might be wise to take a lesson from God himself, who somehow thought it was reasonable to take only 10 percent.”

Data also revealed that 1.2 percent said it depends on the taxpayers income, 0.4 percent said it should remain what it is now, while 2.4 percent indicated their support for a fair tax or flat tax system. Another 22.2 percent had no opinion.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study 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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According to a recent SoonerPoll, 70.3 percent of likely Oklahoma voters believe that the current welfare system discourages marriage and should be changed. By comparison, 20.6 percent of respondents said the system does not need to be changed and 9 percent had no opinion.

Respondents were asked the following question: “Oftentimes, under Oklahoma’s current welfare system, a young woman can receive more financial benefits by remaining single than by marrying the father of her children. Other times, a woman who is already married, can receive more financial benefits by separating from or divorcing her husband. Some people say it is unwise to discourage marriage in this way, and that this policy should be changed. But, other people say marital status shouldn’t matter, and that the policy doesn’t need to be changed. Which view comes closer to your own?”

Most welfare programs in Oklahoma, and the rest of the United States, unintentionally create disincentives for single parents who would otherwise decide to get married through a policy of “means testing.” “Means testing” is policy designed to make sure that welfare programs only give assistance to families who need it.

This policy cuts off access to welfare programs to those who make more than a certain level of income decided by a federally‐set poverty level. Oftentimes, parents are better off staying unmarried since a spouse’s income will figure against their welfare benefits.

“Unfortunately, the ‘war on poverty’ really has been a war on the family,” said OCPA Fiscal Policy Director Jonathan Small, CPA. “I have family members and friends who have personally experienced the tough choice between marriage and government welfare, and all too often have chosen welfare, likely destroying their family and future generations.”

Small went on to say that since the ‘war on poverty’ began in the 1960s, the percentage of children born out of wedlock has increased from a little more than 6 percent to more than 40 percent.   For blacks, the percentage of births out of wedlock is over 72 percent.

Though encouraging marriage is often seen as a nonpartisan issue, further analysis reveals some variation of results along party lines. Independents are the most enthusiastic about changing the system with 76 percent in favor of change compared to 73.6 percent of Republicans and 66.7 Democrats.

Similarly, only 60.3 percent of liberals are in favor of changing the system compared to 76.5 percent of conservatives.

“No rational person disagrees with the fact that the intact two parent family is both the greatest incubator for success and the greatest, most consistent driver for economic achievement,” said Small.  “According to US Census data, more than 36 percent of single mothers with children were poor, compared to six percent of married couples with children. The overwhelming majority of poor families with children are single parent families, equaling 71 percent of all poor families with children. ”

When results are broken down by sex, men are more likely than women to support changing the welfare system with 74.4 percent of men in favor compared to just 67.4 percent of women. The crosstabs also reveal that 74 percent of evangelicals favor changing the policy, while only 66.8 percent of non-evangelicals would like the policy changed.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study 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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Recently, Shapard Research/SoonerPoll.com conducted an extensive citizen satisfaction and public attitudes study for the City of Tulsa.  This study gathered the opinions of over 1800 Tulsa residents on a wide range of issues important to their community.  The result was an overwhelming positive response from the community, media, and elected officials of Tulsa to the information they gleaned from this study.  The model used by Tulsa can and should be used by municipalities across Oklahoma.

Here’s why this model of public opinion research is the most effective tool local government leaders can utilize to connect with, and utilize, the opinions of their citizens:

Accuracy – Nothing can compare to the quality and accuracy of a true random sampling of citizens via a professional public opinion research firm.  While there are many tools trying to create the illusion of effective surveying, they simply don’t compare to the quality or accuracy of data provide by this type of firm.

Fiscal Responsibility – Many communities balk at conducting such an extensive survey because they do not believe they can afford it, or justify it to their citizens.  However, the City of Tulsa spent no taxpayer dollars to implement this survey.  Their forward thinking and aggressive attitude towards providing citizen input created a truly innovative approach to funding that protected taxpayers’ interest.

Strategic Planning – The city of Tulsa is already working to incorporate the findings of this study into their strategic plan.  Citizens can now have confidence knowing their voices were heard as their elected officials create an agenda for their city.

Community Support – Because their voices were heard, and because the City of Tulsa was open with regards to the process, Tulsa’s elected officials are able to create greater “buy-in” from citizens, the media, and Tulsa-area elected officials for the vision they are creating for their city.

The model created by the City of Tulsa effectively removes the barriers to utilizing one of the most important aspects of public policy-making – public opinion.  Municipalities across Oklahoma should be finding out how they can replicate this model and create a truly representative policy agenda for their communities.

James Davenport is Shapard Research’s Vice President of Client Relations and a Political Analyst for SoonerPoll.com

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