Analysis: A few days ago, the OKGOP tweeted the following polling summary from the Stitt campaign’s super-confident pollsters, “WPA Intelligence,” suggesting Governor Stitt is leading Joy Hofmeister by 15 points. I couldn’t disagree with them more.
I guess I’ll risk invoking the wrath (and ruler) of “the Lying Nun” (Temporary OKGOP Chairman AJ Farate) and just say, I think Governor Stitt is in trouble, and it seems to me that if his campaign is working hard, it’s to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This makes me nervous as a Republican.
To be clear, this summary COULD be accurate. BUT, this is quite a confident summary for any poll with a 5% margin or error, 8% undecided, a 3-5% over-representation of a whopping 9% who are supposedly voting 3rd party. They’re suggesting 22% are “in flux.” I believe that’s at least 10% too low, and that this race is much more likely a toss-up.
Here are my notes after reviewing the WPA Intelligence summary:
- I’m assuming this is just a big, fancy, expensive push poll that’s part of the campaign strategy to artificially boost public opinion. I hate to suggest so, but I found the statement at the end a troubling red flag. They’re basically saying, “It’s hard to imagine any credible poll disagreeing with us.” Wow.
First of all, if you have to tell everyone you’re the best, you probably aren’t. Almost as if they’re trying to artificially boost confidence in a GOP candidate with very little energy behind him, and one who isn’t being exceptionally competitive with campaigning, and to also preempt contradicting news just days before the other polls came out suggesting Hofmeister was leading by 4%.
- In my time with Oklahoma politics, I’ve never seen anything like the current political environment here this year. I don’t see anyone taking into account the fact there’s literally no Republican candidates on any ballot in any of the 5 congressional districts, nor are there any statewide candidates on the ballot this year, who OKGOP rank & file voters are collectively, genuinely excited to go vote for. Not one.
That’s a huge and unprecedented factor we can’t ignore. That means the downticket is also more vulnerable in close races, as well. This lack of energy at the top of the ticket could easily cost Governor Stitt (and the downticket) 1-5% in lost turnout.
- The Republican campaign machine here in Oklahoma is fragmented and decentralized, compared to any previous GOTV season in recent history. They’ve already been lackluster for several years to begin with, as the OKGOP hasn’t had the funds, leadership or a comprehensive GOTV plan in several years. If we factor in low campaign energy, GOP voter overconfidence & GOP volunteer apathy, in a one-party red state like ours, it could cost Republicans another 1-5% in lost turnout.
- The democrats have ground-game superiority this year. Something we never used to see in OK. The teachers union is organized behind Hofmeister, and democrats have been bringing in national consultants and out-working/out-hustling the OKGOP on the ground for a few years now, and we’re definitely seeing it again in 2022.
A superior ground game can give any candidate a turnout edge ranging between 5-10%. Dems might have a little more trouble than that in Oklahoma, but realistically, it could cost us 1-5% in turnout advantage, at the bare minimum. Even here in the “red state.” That’s how we flipped Oklahoma Red long before we had the numbers.
- Since the OKGOP leadership doesn’t take 2020 voter fraud seriously, we can’t expect them to take it seriously now. We should be watching heavily blue precincts in OKC & Tulsa, especially college districts, as well as the Tribes’ activity, very carefully for irregularities. I don’t believe there’s currently a plan or interest to do so. If the democrats wanted to run up the score with fraudulent mail ballots in one or more counties, they very easily could, if they’re not being watched.
We know the Tribes in NV likely threw the election for Biden in 2020, as democrats were busted trading gas cards for votes. The Tribes’ stance on McGirt proves they don’t care about non-tribal members, and tribal elections “on the Res” have long been the source of controversy. After all, they’re a perfect microcosm of why unrepented socialism doesn’t work. Should we be surprised they’re going with the socialists this year?
- Hofmeister’s consultants and her dark money PAC consultants are heavily funded and have a reputation for going absolutely toxic in the end, and have decades of experience moving the dial with negative bombing runs in the past. They’ll likely both have an 11th hour “October surprise,” and the truth will be irrelevant. It won’t get better or slow down. It will get worse. If the Stitt campaign continues to keep their powder dry while Hofmeister keeps coming out with new lines of attack and accusations, it could cost him another 1-5%.
- The Stitt campaign learned nothing from Drummond Vs O’Connor, when it comes to one-sided campaign spending and advertising. Burying your opponent with mailers and negative ads wins elections. Even if you’re a turncoat.
- The Governor having no serious competition in the GOP Primary may have possibly contributed to the overconfidence and apathy we’re seeing.
- Governor Stitt is also running against a woman, which unfortunately creates problems for him he didn’t have in the 2022 GOP Primaries or in 2018. Suburban Women always disappoint GOP pollsters. They never learn.
We can expect at least a 1-3% migration of Republican Women to cross over and support Hofmeister, who will never tell a pollster or their husbands any different than the expected party lines. We can expect “Independent” and 3rd party Women will break twice as hard. Probably an extra 1-5% turnout advantage for Hofmeister that won’t necessarily show up in a poll.
- Governor Stitt is also surrendering the early vote by allowing Hofmeister to “dominate the air” as mail ballots are already going out and returning. Any last minute campaign ads from the Governor will be too late for mail voters, and therefore irrelevant. GOP candidates traditionally trail democrats in this category, already. That’s a hidden 1-3% we can’t get back.
Election Day begins on the first day mail ballots go out. It’s not in November anymore. We will eventually have to evolve past the tired old “Karl Rove” mindset of end-cycle campaigning as a Party.
- The WPA poll summary has Stitt at 48% to Joy at 33%. I can’t point out the obvious enough, that 48% isn’t enough to win an election in Oklahoma, and isn’t good news for any incumbent with a month to go. You can’t have any confidence in a poll where an incumbent is below 50% with a 22% fluctuation (or more) inside a month. Especially if it’s also telling you he’s “ahead by 15%.” That’s a large lead for someone who can’t break 50 in any poll. I just don’t see it. For all we know, Joy could be up by 4%, or they can both be hovering around 45% with a 10% fluctuation. That’s much more likely.
- I also have serious doubts about their (and everyone else’s) methodology. With blended polls of text/phone responses & also trends with voter tags from previous polls (which is creepy as hell), the proverbial pond keeps getting smaller, with more “fish” opting out. Rapidly disappearing land lines means less seniors in the mix, and less consistent baseline trends they recently offered as a predominant voter block. It’s harder than ever to track year over year trends, especially with participants becoming increasingly guarded and less candid with their answers.
The over-representation of 3rd party voters is noteworthy, and I’m also curious if they’re using an over representation of Independent voters as well. We had the same problem in 2018, which really screwed the RNC polling. The turnout was larger, and they trended more “MAGA” in presidential years, for starters. The spike in these voters in 2016 & 2020 weren’t as weighty a factor in 2018, and likely won’t be in 2022 for the same reason: “Trump isn’t on the ballot.” With so many trend changes, an expanding electorate and a shrinking universe, this low margin of error is suspect as well.
- Stitt should’ve put Hofmeister away by now, considering she’s the most target-rich democrat we’ve seen in recent decades. We’ll never get another chance like this to set the tone and run away with it. Her failing job statistics and radical, woke, “groomer culture” is being underutilized with voting parents.
Hofmeister is represented by one of her self-admitted “anarchist” teachers, who has been caught exposing kids to restricted, adult material and telling them “f**k your parents, I’m your parents now.” He’s being reinstated and defended by one of Hofmeister’s administrators, who says OEA members “have to stick together” to protect him – instead of our kids.
- Multiple examples of Hofmeister’s anti-Trump stance are available to establish a MAGA base behind the Stitt campaign as well.
- Her new pro-abortion stance is another wedge issue not being utilized against her.
- While the WPA polling is only showing a 22% fluctuation, the observations I’m making lead me to believe the actual fluctuation is more likely to be somewhere between 25-35%.
I hope I’m wrong, because this puts Joy Hofmeister in striking distance – if not ahead. He can still close the gap. But if the election were held today, I believe this race would be be too close to call by 9pm.
I definitely don’t see a 15% lead, or anything close. I’ve told candidates the same thing for decades, “always campaign like you’re behind. You just might be.” That’s definitely the case with Governor Stitt. He should campaign like he’s down 15%.
Now, let the haters hate. Comments are welcome below.
About the author: Mike Ford is a former Chairman of the Republican Party of Tulsa County and remains active as a political consultant. His views are his own. Your comments are welcome below.