The Democratic gubernatorial race continues to tighten as primary day approaches in Oklahoma. Results of the most recent SoonerPoll show Attorney General Drew Edmondson still leads Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, but not by much.
Edmondson’s numbers have fallen from 40.1 percent in April to 37.1 percent currently, while Askins, who currently has 35.8 percent of the vote, has gained ever so slightly since April.
“This race is shaping up to be a real horserace,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com. “It appears the contest will come down to messaging and who has the best organization to get their voters to the polls.
SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 318 likely voters from May 25 – June 8, 2010. The study has a margin of error of ± 5.5 percent.
Edmondson has been the front runner since January, however his numbers have been falling since reaching that peak. His numbers have now fallen so low that his current lead over Askins is only 1.3 points, well within the margin of error.
When Askins was the only announced candidate, fewer knew her and early polling showed Edmondson with a sizable lead. When Edmondson finally entered the race last summer, Askins had acquired a 5 point lead. By the start of 2010, both candidates were campaigning hard and Edmondson surged to the lead with a 9.5 point lead.
The passing of the health care reform law in late March brought with it a drop in the polls for all candidates, regardless of party. Edmondson dropped from 45.8 percent in January to 40.1 percent in April. Askins took a 1.1 point hit in the polls in April but seems to be turning the tide as she actually gained a little more than a half a point since April.
The support base for both Edmondson and Askin is split near evenly by income, age, race and political ideology. Female likely voters are slightly more likely to favor Askins, while males are slightly more likely to favor Edmondson.
Real differences between the candidates, in terms of support, are much more apparent geographically. Edmondson is running 20 points stronger than Askins in the Tulsa metro area, and 7 points stronger than Askins in ‘Little Dixie,’ Congressman Dan Boren’s district and a bastion of Democrat support in the state. Edmondson is from Muskogee, where eastern Oklahoma has always been his strongest base of support.
Askins, however, is running 9 points stronger than Edmondson in the Oklahoma City metro area, and 15 points stronger than Edmondson in Congressman Tom Cole’s southwestern Oklahoma district. Askins hails from Duncan in southwest Oklahoma where her base helped hand her the Lt. Governor’s office in 2006.
Congressman Frank Lucas’ mostly northwest congressional district shows a near split of support for both candidates, with Askins edging out Edmondson by 3 points.
“The turf battle is on,” Shapard said. “The winning candidate will be the one you can effectively gain ground in their opponent’s backyard.”