Revisiting voters’ changing opinions of political parties
Published: March 17th, 2011
by Wesley Burt, SoonerPoll
A recent study conducted by SoonerPoll finds that favorability of political parties is shifting in Oklahoma. A majority of likely Oklahoma voters now have a favorable opinion of both the State and National Republican party while favorable opinions of the Democratic parties continues to decline.
The Oklahoma Republican Party is the party most favored by Oklahoma voters with 55.1 percent favorability, a 5.1 point increase from this time last year and a 6 point increase since April of 2009.
Favorability of the National Republican Party has also risen dramatically since the question was last polled, surpassing the Oklahoma Democratic Party as the second most favored party. Favorability of the National Republican Party is at 50.2 percent, up 7.4 points from 2010 and 9 points from 2009.
Last year, when the National Republican Party trailed the State Democratic Party by only a point, Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll, warned of the dangers of making speculations based on results within the margin of error. The National Republican Party’s lead over the State Democrat Party is now beyond margin of error, but Shapard still cautions that there are only three data points in this study which began in 2009.
“These results mark only the third time that favorability of political parties has been measured by SoonerPoll,” Shapard said. “As we continue to poll this issue overtime, a more comprehensive understanding of the issue will emerge.”
Favorability of both the State and National Democratic Parties has declined steadily since SoonerPoll began tracking in 2009. The Oklahoma Democratic Party, which was, just last year, the second most favored party with 43.8 percent favorability, dropped 5.1 points to just 38.7 percent.
Last April, Keith Gaddie, Vice President of SoonerPoll, said he thought the shift indicated a collapse of the “concept of the Oklahoma Democrat as a brand.” The latest poll results, which come in the wake of an election year that saw sweeping Republican gains in Oklahoma, seem to cement Gaddie’s inferences.
“When you’re at the tail end of a realignment, one expects to see a convergence of party assessment across levels of office,” Gaddie said. “What we’re seeing in Oklahoma probably indicates the beginning of the sounding of bottom for the Democrats.”
The State and National Democratic Parties and the State and National Republican Parties tend to track together. Recent results show that the gap between the State and National Republican Party’s favorability has shrunk since 2009, while the gap between the State and National Democratic Party’s favorability has fluctuated only slightly.
SoonerPoll.com commissioned and conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 508 likely voters from Jan. 24 – Feb. 3. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.35 percent. The study was compared to previous studies that also used live interviewers by telephone of 1000 likely voters from Feb. 25 – March 8, 2010 and 318 likely voters from April 23-26, 2009. These studies have a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent and ± 5.5 percent respectively.