Republican Governor Stitt falls behind in recent poll of Oklahoma voters... Is his time up?

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Last week I wrote about Oklahoma’s gubernatorial race. At the time I thought it may be the sleeper race of this electoral cycle. Who would think that deep red Oklahoma would have a real race going on for governor? As it turns out, Oklahoma does have a real race and the Republican incumbent is losing ground, according to the latest polls.


What caught my attention with this race last week was that both Real Clear Politics and Cook Political Report shifted it from Safe R to Likely R. Republican Governor Kevin Stitt is losing support from both independent voters and suburban women voters to his Democrat opponent, current State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. What makes this even more interesting is that Hofmeister was a Republican until she decided to run against Stitt and now she’s running as a Democrat. If Hofmeister wins, she will be the first Democrat to win a statewide office in Oklahoma since 2006.

The poll results I wrote about last week do not appear to have been flukes. Polling results are showing Hofmeister in the lead again this week. Real Clear Politics has shifted the race again and labeled it a toss-up. Yikes. Ascend Action, a Republican political consulting firm, released the results of a poll on Monday that shows Hofmeister with a 7 point lead. A poll from KOCO-TV gives her a 0.6 point lead. Three weeks out from the election, it appears that momentum is on Hofmeister’s side, not Stitt’s. A partner at Ascend Action tried to say some reassuring words to Republicans but I not so sure he helped.

Data shows Democrat Joy Hofmeister leading the incumbent Republican Governor, Kevin Stitt. In the survey of 638 likely voters, Hofmeister garnered 49% of responses, with Stitt pulling in 42%. Eight-percent of respondents were undecided.

But Hudson Talley, a partner with Ascend, warned that this race could look a lot closer come November 8th.

“We have hit a bit of a ceiling on the Joy Hofmeister side,” said Talley. “So I do see this as one of those races where the gap looks wide, a little bit of that is because Republican intensity is waning a bit. When you have $10 million of negative advertising on TV, that tends to happen.”


A ceiling for Hofmeister is good. However, why is Republican intensity waning as we get closer to November 8? Republican intensity is holding all across the country, in fact in some races Republicans are coming on strong and likely to flip seats in untraditional places. See Oregon. Blaming negative advertising seems odd. Everyone gets sick of nonstop political ads right before an election and plenty of them are negative. Yet, I’ve never heard anyone blame negative advertising for tamping down voter intensity.

Both candidates remain popular with their voters in their parties. Independents favor Hofmeister. Democrat voters favor Hofmeister 89% to 4% for Stitt. Independents support Hofmeister by 69%, while Stitt gets only 22% of Independents’ support.

Stitt is supported by 69% of Republicans polled by Ascend. Hofmeister received 20% of Republican support. This is where moderate Republicans come in. “I’m starting to see that crossover of moderate Republicans surge just a little bit,” said Talley. “And the lack of Republican position among Independents is causing this lead to widen a little bit.”

Some of the cross tabs are disturbing for Republican voters. Younger voters (18-54) favored Hofmeister, which isn’t surprising, as younger voters usually favor Democrat candidates. However, she also holds a slight lead in the 65-74 age group. Stitt has a good lead with voters 75 and older, and a slight advantage in the 55-64 category. Men favor Stitt but not by a large amount – 49-43. Hofmeister’s lead is greater with woman voters. She tops Stitt at 54-36. Here’s the kicker, though. Hofmeister is doing well with rural voters.


“The thing I think that’s surprised me the most is the surge for Hofmeister in some of the rural areas,” said Talley. “And for the first time in the entirety of this race, I’m actually seeing Stitt down in the west half of the state, and a little bit more competitive than he’s been in the east half of the state.”

Hofmeister is surging in rural areas. That is not good news for the Republican candidate any way you try to spin it.

Both candidates are more popular with Oklahoma voters than Joe Biden but that’s a low bar. Biden’s at 38% in Oklahoma. However, Governor Stitt is underwater 45% – 53%. Hofmeister is 55% favorable to 40% unfavorable.

There is still time for things to change and polls have been notoriously wrong over the last few election cycles. Talley optimistically says that it’s still Stitt’s race to lose.

As I mentioned in my post last week, Hofmeister accuses Stitt of corruption and that may be weighing him down. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has an inquiry into state park restaurant contracts. The investigation resulted in the Tourism and Recreation Department director, appointed by Stitt, resigning. There is also a federal investigation into the governor’s use o pandemic relief funds for education.


Stay tuned.

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