August 2, 2016
Bill Shapard

Oklahoman: Poll shows support for education tax, sentencing reform initiatives

By Ben Felder, The Oklahoman

State questions aimed at increasing education funding and decreasing incarceration rates have strong support headed into the final few months before the November election, according to recent polls.

In cooperation with The Oklahoman, SoonerPoll found 62 percent of likely voters support State Question 779, which asks voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax increase for common and higher education, including pay raises for public school teachers.

“That may surprise some people, but it shouldn't because we have seen in polling for some time that people want teachers to make more money, so it's not too surprising that (SQ 779) has support,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll. “I think people see this as a need that has gone long overlooked by the Legislature, and I think this state question is basically the people saying ‘If you aren't going to do something about it, we will.' ”

ContinuedClick here to read the entire Oklahoman article

Additional Take-aways from the poll results:

Criminal Justice State Questions

  • Republicans were 15 points more likely to strongly support SQ776 (Death penalty) than Democrats and 34 points more likely than Independents. Meanwhile, Democrats 12 points more likely to strongly support SQ781 (Safety fund) than Republicans and just 2 points more likely on SQ780 (Reform criminal sentences).
  • For SQ776 (Death penalty), strong support increases from just 18.1% for liberals to 74.3% for very conservatives, and conversely decreases for SQ781 (Safety fund) from 41.9% for liberals to 23.1% for somewhat conservatives and 28.4% for very conservatives.
  • The Tulsa MSA showed the least 'strong support' for all three criminal justice questions, 34.2% for SQ776 compared to 47.1% for OKC MSA, 34% for SQ780 compared to 49.3% for OKC, and 26.6% for SQ781 compared to 29.5% for OKC.
  • Strong support for SQ780 falls slightly with education level, from 54.1% (for those with some high school or less) to 35.9% for those with a post graduate degree.
  • No significant differences on levels of support among the income, employment status, or age subsets.
  • Evangelicals strongly supported SQ776 over non-evangelicals 57.6% to 38.3%, but no significant differences for SQ780 or SQ781.
  • Men strongly supported SQ776 51.5% compared to 44.3% for women, yet women strongly supported SQ780 and SQ781 by 3 and 7 points respectively over men.

SQ777 - Right To Farm

  • Most support comes from Republicans (63.3%) compared to 43.5% for Democrats and 44.5% for Independents.
  • Strong support increases along the ideological scale, from 19.8% for liberals to 41% for very conservatives.
  • Strong support in Tulsa MSA and OKC MSA is similar at 22%, but rural strong support increases to 32.9% in rural parts of the state. Among rural voters, 22.8% were still undecided, whereas 21.4% of rural voters opposed SQ777.
  • There were no significant differences among subsets within age, education, employment status, gender, marital status or income on SQ777.
  • Among evangelical voters, 60.9% favored SQ777 as opposed to 44.4% who were not evangelical voters, plus evangelical voters were twice as likely to strongly support it.

SQ779 - Education 1-cent sales tax

  • Republicans were just as likely to support SQ779 as Democrats or Independents, 61% compared to 62.1% for Democrats and 65% for Independents.
  • No significant differences were observed in support for SQ779 in either urban or rural areas of the state.
  • Women were 14.2 points more likely to strongly support SQ779, 43.8% to 29.6% for men.
  • No other significant differences were found among subsets of any other major demographic.

About the Poll, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, asked these questions of Oklahoma likely voters as part of the SoonerPoll Quarterly Poll, and was commissioned by the Oklahoman.

The scientific study was conducted from July 20-25, 2016 with 398 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a tri-frame of both landline telephone and cell phones, plus a online panel from Research Now. The sample was weighted by age, congressional district and gender in order to reflect the Oklahoma likely voter population for a general election.

The sample reflects the traditional demographical profile of the Oklahoma likely voter with roughly half of respondents identifying as conservative and attending religious services once or more per week. The study has a Margin of Error (MoE) of ± 4.91 percent.

This poll not only conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls but exceeds the standard disclosure with a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The poll's Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report can be viewed here. A beta version of the Weighting Table Report can be viewed here.

Bill Shapard
About the Author

Bill Shapard

Bill is the founder of and ShapardResearch, a full service market research firm based in Oklahoma City. Bill began his career in polling after working on a major campaign in Oklahoma from 1996 until founding SoonerPoll in 2004.