December 21, 2010
Wesley Burt

Henry, Inhofe, Coburn finish off 2010 with highest marks in years

October and November SoonerPoll numbers find both of Oklahoma's Republican U.S. senators and the outgoing Democratic Governor currently enjoying their highest approval ratings in recent memory.

Senator Tom Coburn's current approval rating of 69.6 percent is the highest it has been since SoonerPoll began polling on him in January of 2006. Senator James Inhofe's approval rating of 64 percent is also his highest on record.

Governor Brad Henry's approval rating has slowly declined since SoonerPoll began polling in 2006. In October, Henry reached his lowest approval on record of 62.2 percent before surging back up to 70.8 percent following the November election.

"It is difficult to lump all of these men into the same group as far as their popularity. Each one enjoys their popularity for different reasons," Keith Gaddie, Vice President of SoonerPoll, said.

Henry's approval rating reached its highest point, 83.4 percent, in January 2007 which marked the end of his first term during which he enjoyed a Democratic legislative majority.

Henry's second term began with a transfer of power in the state house, as the newly elected Republican majority took control. SoonerPoll's first numbers during Henry's second term, taken in April of 2007, found that his approval had dropped 6.7 points.

Though Henry's approval has ebbed and flowed since January of 2007, there is a generally downward slope to his marks which continued through both a recession and the election of a generally unpopular President of the same party and culminated with his lowest approval rating before the November 2010 elections.

Henry's approval rating has been falling for years, however, 62.2 percent is an impressive all time low, which Gaddie attributes to Henry's ability to avoid controversy.

"Brad Henry has been a highly capable and uncontroversial executive who steers a middle course dedicated to one principle -- advancing Oklahoma, Gaddie said.

While Henry, a conservative Democrat, has generally slipped at the polls, both Coburn and Inhofe, conservative Republicans, have seen a spike in popularity.

Coburn and Inhofe's high marks come despite the generally tough time congress has had gaining the approval of the public across the United States in recent months.

"Coburn and Inhofe appeal to different components of the Oklahoma electorate. As much as they conflict on some issues, such as earmarks, each is seen as serving some component of the conservative base that is the voting majority in Oklahoma politics," Gaddie said.

Many of the results come from the Oklahoma Poll, sponsored by the Tulsa World.

For the last two survey results,, Oklahoma's public opinion pollster, conducted the scientific studies above using live interviewers by telephone of 753 likely voters from Oct. 18-23 and 518 likely voters from Nov. 5-11. The studies had a margin of error of ±3.57 percent and ±4.3 percent respectively.

Wesley Burt
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Wesley Burt