January 1, 2015
Bill Shapard

STATEWIDE POLL: In light of recent events throughout America, SoonerPoll asked Oklahomans their thoughts on racism, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, asked these questions of Oklahoma likely voters as part of the SoonerPoll Quarterly poll. The scientific study was conducted from December 8-19, 2014 with 403 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a dual frame of both landline telephone and cell phones. The sample was weighted by age and congressional district, then stratified using a model of likely voters.

The sample reflected 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 ± 4.88 percent.

[box]Click here for complete question wording/crosstabs[/box]

Here are the key take-aways:

  • An overwhelming majority of Oklahomans (91%) believe that racists of every color still exist today in every community in America. We asked whether respondents agreed or disagreed with the statement “There are racists in every community in America and of every color.”
  • Almost three quarters (71.5%) of Oklahomans strongly agreed with this statement, with only 7.1% disagreeing strongly or somewhat.
  • Oklahomans statistically believe that racism is still very prevalent in America today, regardless of sex, age, race, or party affiliation. This seems to be an issue that almost all Oklahomans agree upon.
  • Another overwhelming number of Oklahomans (88.9%) believe that it is still possible to achieve the American Dream in America today, regardless of race or skin color. Apparently, even though Oklahomans believe racists still exist in every community and of every color, they do not believe this to be a reason for an individual to not be able to accomplish the American Dream today.
  • While a majority of Oklahoma voters from every political party agreed with this premise, Democrats were considerably less likely to strongly agree than both Republicans and Independents (57.3% of Democrats compared to 70.1% of Independents and 79.5% of Republicans).
  • A majority of Oklahomans (54.3%) believe that race relations in America have become worse under President Obama’s tenure as President than before his presidency in the last 20 years, with over one third (36.9%) believing it to be “Much worse”. Only 15.4% of Oklahomans believe race relations have become better.
  • Oklahoma Republicans were considerably more likely to believe that race relations in America had become considerably worse since Obama’s tenure, compared to the opinions of both Democrats and Independents. (50.2% of Republicans said “Much worse,” compared to 21.6% of Democrats and 37.3% of Independents)
  • Men were also much more likely to respond “Much worse” to this question (43.6%) compared to women (31.1%).
  • Almost two thirds (62.8%) of Oklahomans believe that any person that resists while being arrested by the police should expect their life to be in danger, regardless of race, age, sex, or religion, which is the common thread between the Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases.
  • Republicans were considerably more likely to agree with this statement than both Democrats and Independents (72.4% of Republicans agreed compared to 51.7% of Democrats and 64.3% of Independents).
  • Just over one quarter (27.5%) of Democrats “Strongly disagree” with this statement, compared to 19.6% of Independents and only 7.2% of Republicans.
  • Men were also much more likely to “Strongly agree” with this statement (56.8%) compared to women (38.2%).

To conclude the questions regarding racial issues, SoonerPoll’s respondents were read a series of four statements, then asked whether they consider the statement to be a racist statement, just an inappropriate statement, or a statement that is neither racist nor inappropriate, meaning they did not see anything wrong with that statement being made. SoonerPoll chose statements made by people currently in the news, but did not reveal to any respondents the individuals who actually made those statements. The statements used for this study were also chosen due to the fact that none of the statements directly used any pejoratives, and the statements had been accused of actually being racist comments by the media and also members of the opposite political party. SoonerPoll chose to use two statements made by Democrats and two statements made by Republicans.

  • For the most part, Oklahomans seem to reserve calling something “racist” for statements considerably more intolerable and intransigent than the four statements selected.

“Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” – President Barack Obama

  • Just over one third (34.1%) of Oklahomans considered this to be an inappropriate statement, with only 11.4% declaring it to be a racist statement.
  • Democrats (14.3%) and Independents (16.3%) were about twice as likely to consider this to be a racist statement as Republicans (7.7%).
  • Women (14.5%) were also more likely than men (7.8%) to consider this statement to be racist.

“There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in prejudice and racism and they just have to die.” – Oprah Winfrey

  • Of the four statements read to respondents, this statement was considered the most racist (26.5%) and also the most inappropriate (55.4%).
  • Party affiliation did not seem to be a significant factor in whether this statement was believed to be racist, although fewer Democrats believed this statement to be inappropriate than Republicans or Independents (46.6% of Democrats compared to 59.7% of Republicans and 69.8% of Independents).

“May I suggest the number one thing holding black folks back today is a bad attitude? The best thing black folks can do today to change their attitude is to move past the victim mentality. Yes, many evil things were done to black people in the past, but that was in the past. We should never abandon history, but to dwell on the evils of the past and not move on is an attitude killer.” – (R) Charlie Meadows, OCPAC

  • This statement was considered to be neither racist nor inappropriate by the largest majority of Oklahomans (57.9%).
  • A majority of respondents from all three political parties believed this statement to be neither inappropriate nor racist. However, only half (50.6%) of Democrats indicated they felt this way, while almost two thirds of both Republicans (63.2%) and Independents (62.8%) shared this belief.
  • The only demographic stating this to be a racist comment in majority were those who considered themselves “Very liberal”. 68.1% believed this to be a racist statement, while those from “Somewhat liberal” to “Very conservative” were all in a majority agreement the statement above was neither racist nor inappropriate.
  • Men (65.5%) were also much more likely than women (51.3%) to consider this statement neither racist nor inappropriate.

“We deserve answers to this. President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.” – Sarah Palin

  • Of the four statements tested, this statement actually gathered the most mixed response, with a quarter of respondents (24.2%) deeming it to be a racist remark, one third (33.2%) calling it just inappropriate, and just over a third (36.4%) saying it was neither racist nor inappropriate.
  • Democrats (30.2%) were considerably more likely to consider this statement to be racist, while Republicans (46.2%) were the most likely to believe it to be neither racist nor inappropriate.
  • Men (42.7%) were much more likely to view nothing wrong with the statement, whereas the largest percentage of women (38.0%) found the statement to be just inappropriate.


About the Poll

The poll of 403 likely voters in Oklahoma was commissioned and conducted Dec 8-19, 2014 by and included 88 cellphone and 318 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.88 percentage points.

Poll results were weighted by age and congressional district, stratified by Oklahoma likely voters statewide. This poll conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The poll's Call Disposition and Rate Calculation 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.