Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich received the support of one-third of the 400 likely Republican Primary voters polled in a recent SoonerPoll.com study.
With 33.3 percent plurality, Gingrich leads in Oklahoma by more than a two-to-one margin over former Governor Mitt Romney who came in second with 14.3 percent.
“Since Republican primary candidates rarely visit Oklahoma on the campaign trail, it is not uncommon for Oklahoman’s opinions to mirror national polls receiving media attention,” Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com, said.
The SoonerPoll went in the field on November 17, and results from Gallup’s daily poll of the Republican field have revealed Gingrich to be the nationwide front-runner since November 13.
Romney consistently came in second in the Gallup daily poll during the time the SoonerPoll.com study was conducted, though never with less than 21 percent.
“It is not really surprising that the leader and runner up in our poll mirrored the national polls,’ Shapard said. “But what is surprising is how much lower Romney’s poll numbers are compared to nationwide numbers reported in the media.’
Romney received just 14.3 percent in the SoonerPoll study, despite maintaining numbers in the mid to high twenties nationwide.
Shapard said that since the poll only asked respondents who they would vote for, there is very little data to help explain why Romney’s numbers are lower in the state.
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Governor Rick Perry came in third, earning 9.3 percent, followed by Representative Ron Paul who garnered the support of 4.3 percent of respondents.
Nationally, Ron Paul has been polling in third place ahead of Rick Perry, but Shapard said additional data may shed some light on why the results are reversed in the state.
“Perry has had the majority of his success among evangelical Americans, and when we look at the crosstabs we see Perry polling within a single percentage point of Romney among evangelical Oklahoma voters,” Shapard said. “Though we can never be sure, this may account for why Perry is bucking the national trend here in Oklahoma.”
Former business executive Herman Cain was a serious candidate when fielding began on the SoonerPoll study. Cain suspended his campaign during the fielding process, but his name was read to respondents until the end of the study for consistency.
Cain received support from 9.3 percent of respondents in the study.
Shapard said that since Cain has not officially backed a candidate, it is unclear how his percentage of votes will break in Oklahoma.
“Based on how Gingrich’s rise coincided with Cain’s downfall in the national polls, we would expect many of Cain’s Oklahoma supporters to break for Gingrich,” Shapard said. ”But again, the nature of this type of polling makes it impossible to speak definitively on such matters.”
Three other candidates received less than 4 percent in the study. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman finished with 3.5 percent, 1.5 percent and 1.3 percent respectively.
SoonerPoll plans to continue polling the race in the coming months as well as the general election that will follow.
“A lot can change in a few short months,” Shapard said. “It will be interesting to see how much opinion changes between now and March 6th.”
SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned this poll. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific poll Nov. 17-Dec. 16, 2011. Likely Oklahoma voters who identified themselves as Republicans were selected at random and given the opportunity to participate in the poll by phone or online. Of the 400 respondents who participated, 4 took the survey online and 396 responded via telephone interview. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.