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tea party

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SoonerPoll added a 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 the recent political movement known as the Tea Party.

We asked likely Oklahoma voters “What one word best describes your impression of the Tea Party?”

Results reveal that 20 respondents answered ‘Good,’ making it the most popular response.  ‘Conservative’ and ‘Crazy’ were the second and third most popular responses with 15 and 13 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.

In April, SoonerPoll asked likely Oklahoma voters whether they thought favorably or unfavorably of the Tea Party.  Results show that 50.9 percent of likely Oklahoma voters said they thought favorably of the Tea Party compared to just 31.1 who said they had unfavorable opinions.

SoonerPoll asked the same respondents to indicate whether they personally identify with the Tea Party.  Though 50.9 percent have a favorable view of the political movement, results indicate that only 41.7 percent said they personally identify with the Tea Party.

“Word clouds are perhaps the single greatest way to visualize a brand,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com and Shapard Research, a full service market research firm specializing in branding research.


What did Oklahoman’s say about Sen. Tom Coburn? Find out by examining his word cloud.

“In this particular word cloud, the proportion of positive and negative words used to describe the Tea Party closely correlates with past approval numbers for the movement,’ Shapard said “The descriptive responses in the word cloud give us a visual insight into why Oklahoman ‘s feel the way they do.”

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned both polls used in the story.   SoonerPoll.com conducted the word cloud poll between July 25 and Aug. 11.   Likely Oklahoma voters were selected at random and given the opportunity to participate in the poll by phone or online. Of the 587 respondents who participated, 17 took the survey online and 570 responded via telephone interview. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.04 percentage points.

SoonerPoll.com conducted the Tea Party approval 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.

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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The national debt currently stands at over $14.7 trillion, and that sum causes great concern to Oklahomans, regardless of political affiliation. By the same token, an overwhelming majority of Oklahomans support a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget.

SoonerPoll recently conducted a survey that asked respondents’ thoughts on the national debt, and on a balanced budget amendment, and I think you’ll find the results to be interesting.

Here in Oklahoma, support for requiring the federal budget to be balanced has broad appeal. 76.2% of those polled supported such a measure, while just 17.7% opposed.

When you dig further into those numbers, 67.7% of Democrats along with majorities of those who identify as liberals support the amendment. Contrary to what the mainstream media might imply, balancing the budget isn’t a “radical” idea from the Tea Party, it’s a unifying concept across the political spectrum. In the SoonerPoll survey, there wasn’t a single demographic or subset that did not support a balanced budget amendment.

Every state except for Vermont has some sort of a balanced budget requirement, and at various points in American history, balanced budget amendments have come close to being considered or enacted (in the 1990’s, a Balanced Budget Amendment passed the U.S. House and came one vote short in the U.S. Senate).

Part of the reason for this popular support of a balanced budget amendment is the soaring national debt. Just eleven years ago, the national debt stood at just under $5.7 trillion dollars. Nine trillion dollars later, worry over the debt and our future is at an all time high.

Those surveyed by SoonerPoll were asked to use a 0 to 10 scale to express their concern regarding the national debt (with ‘0’ meaning ‘not at all concerned, and ‘10’ meaning ‘extremely concerned’). The results really are remarkable. Among all respondents, 4.2% responded in the 0 to 4 range, 4.4% were neutral, 24.2% were 6 to 9, and an astounding 66.3% picked ‘10’ for ‘extremely concerned’.

Again, as with the balanced budget question, large majorities of every possible group expressed extreme concern over the national debt. To Oklahomans, this is not a partisan issue, with Democrats on one end of the spectrum and Republicans on the other, balancing as if on a teeter-totter. Instead, as the debt continues to rise on one side, they are both sitting on the edge of the opposite side.

In the past few years, little has brought these two issues to light more forcefully than the emergence of the Tea Party. The crushing national debt and the perpetually unbalanced federal budget have and continue to be focal points for the grassroots movement. As a result, the national conversation has turned to these topics.

Regardless of how the two issues are addressed, Oklahomans are extremely concerned about the national debt, and are united in their support of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Oklahomans have it right, and with red ink threatening to swamp the entire country, the President and Congress need to take note.

Jamison Faught s a guest political analyst and commentator at SoonerPoll.com.  Jamison is a conservative political activist and the author of MuskogeePolitico.com, one of the top political blogs in the state.

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The results of a recent SoonerPoll found that most Oklahomans – 60.5 percent  – would like to see a smaller government, even if that means fewer services are available.

“Oklahoma has been trending conservative for a long time,” Dr. Keith Gaddie, vice president of SoonerPoll, said, “The state has not always been, historically, fiscally conservative, but the rhetoric of fiscal conservatism has imbedded itself in the electorate and there is a hue and cry to return to a basic principal of conservative spending and  smaller government.”

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 1000 likely voters from Feb. 25 – March 8. This particular question was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. The study has a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent.

To see a PDF document containing all the questions asked by OCPA click here.

The results in Oklahoma are consistent with the national trend towards smaller government.  A national poll conducted by Washington Post-ABC News in January asked the same exact question as SoonerPoll, “Generally speaking, would you say you favor (smaller government with fewer services), or (larger government with more services)?” The results were similar with 58 percent of the nation for a smaller government with fewer services.

In the SoonerPoll survey, the concept of smaller government with fewer services was supported by 75.1 percent of Republicans and 58.1 percent of Independents polled.   Interestingly, a large percentage – 49.2 percent – of Democrats also agreed with the generally conservative belief  in smaller government.

Although the majority of Americans and Oklahomans alike prefer a smaller government with less services, this week’s passage of health care reform, creating one of the largest entitlement programs in the country, will increase the size of government and provide more services.

“There has been large scale discontent among all parties during the recent economic downturn,” Gaddie explains. “People on both sides of party lines are seeing the amount of federal money spent bailing out large corporations and a bipartisan movement to slow spending has been building in the country and particularly in this state. Oklahomans have a historic distrust of large and distant institutions, including government and also corporations. The bailout blends both in one issue.”

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