From January to May, despite an at-times red hot controversy over the Legislature’s agenda and verbal fisticuffs twix some conservative House members and Speaker Kris Steele, voters do not appear to have wavered in their belief that economic issues far outweigh social issues in the importance pecking order.
SoonerPoll surveyed that following question at the request of The McCarville Report Online: “Many voters think economic issues like taxes, government spending and job creation are the most important issues facing America. Others believe that social issues like immigration, gun rights and the right to life are more important. If you had to choose which would you say is the most important to you?”
After months of discussion, 63.3 percent of likely Oklahoma voters continue to believe that economic issues are more important than social issues; only 21.2 percent of respondents said social issues are the most important, while 15.6 percent had no opinion. (In January, it was 76.5 percent of respondents who felt the main focus should be jobs and economic development issues while 19.6 percent said social issues).
The overwhelming importance of economic issues is shared by those in both parties: The crosstabs show that 62.6 percent of Republicans and 65.1 percent of Democrats think economic issues are more important. Fifty-two percent of Independents think economic issues are more important, while 36 percent of Independents think social issues are most important.
By comparison, only 23.8 percent and 17.3 percent of Republicans and Democrats respectively think social issues are most important, and the poll results indicate that 23.2 percent of evangelicals think social issues are more important compared to 19.5 percent of non-evangelicals.
Thus, the depth of concern about pocketbook-over-heart issues is across the board, even among those who might be considered the most conservative of voters.
The poll results seem to affirm Speaker Steele’s judgment in emphasizing economic issues in the 2011 legislative session. They also seem to offer a cautionary message to uber-conservatives who, in this case, appear to have focused their attention on heart issues that pale in comparison to today’s more pressing pocketbook issues.
Mike McCarville is a guest political analyst and commentator at SoonerPoll.com. Newsman and broadcaster Mike McCarville, a veteran of almost 50 years in Oklahoma politics, is the author of The McCarville Report Online, now in its 31st year.