The complete topline and crosstabs to our latest poll is attached, showing Kevin Stitt with a 5 point lead. We believe, however, that this is a “soft” 5-point lead due to other variables in the poll which we have outlined below:
- Governor Mary Fallin has a 75 percent UNFAVORABLE rating, which is the highest we have recorded for her in the last nine years. While we cannot calculate the impact this is having on the current race, it should be noted that the remaining statewide elections show the Republican candidate with anywhere from a 12 to 29 point lead over their next challenger, meaning anywhere between 8 and 10 percent of voters are wanting a change at the top (voting for Edmondson) and voting Republican the rest of the way down the statewide ballot.
- Edmondson is three points MORE favorable than Stitt among all voters. Both are relatively known equally by the voters, but Edmondson leads in favorables 43.8 to 40.9 percent for Stitt. It is very rare that candidates who leads in the race are seen as LESS favorable than their opponent and this is another reason we believe this race could close in the coming days.
- President Donald Trump is 12 points MORE FAVORABLE among DEMOCRATS than Stitt, 25 percent to 13 percent. Our exclusive dial testing presented on SoonerPoll.com has shown that Stitt is NOT winning over Independents and leaning Democrats as much as Edmondson.
- 19 percent of conservatives have a favorable opinion of Edmondson. This is very problematic for Stitt who, as a conservative, wants and needs to command the support of conservatives. It also shows that Stitt and IE groups have been relatively unsuccessful in driving down Edmondson’s favorables. Calling him “DC Drew” and running pictures of Hillary Clinton next to his picture would have been much more powerful had this race happened in 2016 or Clinton had won the presidency.
- Edmondson is winning among moderate voters BIG TIME – 66.8 percent to only 18.3 percent for Stitt. Keep in mind, that one third of all voters on election day identify as a moderate voter. We also have seen in the dial testing that moderates and Independents are not moved by Stitt’s language of wanting to run the government like a business. It polls well with Republicans, but falls flat with these swing voters who might just make the difference in this election.
- 56 percent of women voters find Trump favorable, but only 38 percent find Stitt favorable. This is an amazing result given the current political climate. We have been saying for sometime that women would be a critical voter group in this election since education is, by far, the most important issue in the state this election. Neither Stitt nor the Republicans in general have been effective in communicating this issue and their vision for the future to voters. While it is easier for Democrats and harder for Republicans, Republicans and Stitt should have presented a comprehensive plan because without it, Democrats easily win on this issue.
- Voters over the age of 65, another key voter block which make up 35 to 40 percent of voters on election day, 48 percent voting for Edmondson and 44 percent for Stitt. Older voters, who typically lean the most conservative in comparison to the other age groups, typically lean Republican and Stitt has failed to capture this key demographic.
- Rural voters. It was anticipated that Stitt would command this demographic group given the large increases in registration that the Republican Party has had over just the last eight years. However, Stitt only has a 3.5 point lead among rural voters, up from a tie of 45/45 in our first poll in September. We believe that Stitt has believed he would do well in the rural areas given Edmondson’s prior history with chicken farmers, the Illinois watershed, and his opposition to Right To Farm, but we believe Edmondson is doing well among rural voters more on the issues of education, rural schools and healthcare. Not all rural voters are directly connected to agricultural issues or vote with agriculture. Stitt has not done enough to assure voters he will be supportive of rural schools and keeping open struggling rural hospitals.
- Stitt only leads in the Tulsa MSA by 1.8 points. This is not enough for him to overcome Edmondson’s strengths in other areas, and would be one of the lowest win percentages for a Republican in at least 20 years.
- Our poll shows Edmondson winning in two very rural congressional districts: Mullins and Lucas. Mullin’s is the old Little Dixie and a former Democratic stronghold and new Republicans there may be changing their minds about voting Republican at the top of the ticket. Lucas’ district has always been a strong rural Republican district but, again, we believe Stitt has failed to make the case to these voters on education and rural healthcare.
Finally, it seems that Republicans saved themselves from having a gubernatorial nominee directly related to the state budget deficits and the teacher pay strike of the last year, but voters still seem to want to hold someone responsible even if Stitt is an outsider and has no connection at all with these problems. Also, we believe he is running the same campaign messaging that has helped him win two competitive primaries but has failed to see that the general election could not be won with the same strategy. Again, we point to the dial tests as evidence of this. If Stitt still wins, it will be mostly from the growth of the Republican Party over the last eight years and less because of the campaign he has run or his appeal to voters. If Edmondson ekes out a win, it will be due largely to his appeal to moderates and Independents who became true swing voters in this election and an increase in Democratic voting, if it occurs which remains to be seen.