Photo: Paul Hellstern, Oklahoman

By Steve Lackmeyer, Oklahoman

If Bill Shapard has done his job correctly, he might just have a better grasp than most on who the winners and losers will be during Tuesday’s elections.

Shapard is a pollster, and he spends his time finding out what people really think.

“I’ve worked in politics since the early ’90s,” Shapard said. “I was always interested in how to use research in how to promote a person or an idea. But when I went to college, I didn’t find anything that fit that except marketing, which teaches you to promote a product.”

Shapard obtained a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Mississippi and concluded that all good marketing begins with research. After venturing into polling, he saw a weakness in the profession — pollsters, he noticed, tended to be aligned with either Democrats or Republicans.

“I felt it needed to be different,” Shapard said. “Why must someone always be affiliated with a political party? Good numbers, good research, is not affiliated with one party or idea.”