Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oklahoma Senate Could be Competitive

With a 59% approval rating, Tom Coburn is the second most popular Senator out of 24 PPP has polled on in the last year, trailing just Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. If he decided to run for reelection he'd be a shoo in, leading Governor Brad Henry 52-40 in a hypothetical contest and holding a 53-36 advantage over Congressman Dan Boren.

It's not clear Coburn will run though, and if that proves to be the case and Democrats do a good job with recruiment this could be a competitive race.

Henry is getting solid approval ratings as Governor, with 52% giving him good marks and 36% disapproving. Those numbers would always be pretty good, but they're really good in the context of many state executives across the country seeing their popularity plummet with the bad economy.

Henry's approval rating compares favorably to the favorability ratings of two potential Republican candidates in an open seat situation. J.C. Watts is viewed favorably by 46% of voters in the state with 35% seeing him unfavorably and Tom Cole is seen positively by 43% with 28% looking at him negatively.

Despite Henry's greater popularity Watts and Cole each lead him by one point in a possible contest, a nod to the state's increasing Republicanism at the federal level. Watts has a 45-44 advantage and Cole leads 44-43.

Digging deeper into the numbers there seems to be a suggestion that Oklahomans would prefer divided government to giving Democrats more control in Washington. For instance even though 48% of independents give Henry a positive approval rating, he trails Watts 52-34 and Cole 48-30 with those voters. A lot of folks who like Henry's work as Governor are still saying they'd vote against him as a possible extra Democratic vote in the Senate.

Boren trails Cole 42-40 and Watts 46-41.

Depending on how things play out this race at least has the potential of becoming one to watch.

Full results here

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