My Vote Is for a Poll in Oklahoma

For a while now, Public Policy Polling has been doing something that I consider downright revolutionary for a pollster: Asking the public what races they ...
by | April 21, 2009

For a while now, Public Policy Polling has been doing something that I consider downright revolutionary for a pollster: Asking the public what races they should poll.

Since last year, the North Carolina-based polling firm has regularly let readers on its blog vote between different states to poll. Though it's vaguely ironic for a company that conducts scientific telephone polls to rely on unscientific online polls, nonetheless I think this is a fabulous way to ensure that Public Policy Polling is surveying the races about which the political world actually cares.

There's just one problem: The state that I want to see polled almost never wins. That's true of the latest poll, in which Illinois (as of this writing) has a big lead.

With a fair amount of confidence, I can tell you what a poll of Illinois would reveal:

-Roland Burris is unpopular.

-Gov. Pat Quinn is fairly popular, though voters don't like his income tax proposal.

-Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a potential gubernatorial candidate, is well-liked.

-State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (an Obama protégé) is well-liked, though voters don't know much about him.

-Voters don't know much about any of the Republicans who are thinking about running statewide.

I feel pretty confident about those findings both because Rasmussen recently polled Burris and Quinn and because the contours of Illinois politics are readily transparent. Now Oklahoma, there's an exciting place to poll!

Oklahoma is a state that will be key to answering what I see as the central question of the 2010 gubernatorial elections: Is the state political world converging with the federal political world or are they still distinct from one another?

Oklahoma has become reliably Republican in federal elections, but Democrats still are maintaining somewhat of a grip over state government (though they've lost control of the legislature). If state and federal politics are still distinct, then Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and Attorney General Drew Edmondson, two moderate-to-conservative Democrats, have a chance in the governor's race.

But, there's a case to be made that the American people have become more rigidly partisan in recent years. A rigid partisan wouldn't vote for Republicans for federal office, then elect Democrats at the state level. Have Oklahoma voters become Republicans through and through? I have no idea, but a poll would help us find out.

Now, as a matter of complete disclosure, Public Policy Polling described the Oklahoma poll as a test of what would happen if Sen. Tom Coburn didn't seek another term. I'm betting, though, that they would also test the governor's race.

Anyways, if you want to vote for Oklahoma, or even if you want to vote for Illinois or Georgia, you have until 10 A.M. Eastern on Wednesday to do so.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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