Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly™

Find Out What Oklahoma is Thinking A project of Wilson Research Strategies www.W-R-S.com
Volume Five; Issue Four December 2006

Oklahoma Opinion

Voting and Vote Choice Patterns in the 2006 Gubernatorial Race
Quarterly
In November, Brad Henry swept the Oklahoma gubernatorial race, with 66.5 percent of the vote. Who voted for Brad Henry and who voted for Ernest Istook? Why was Brad Henry able to win in such an impressive fashion? What are the prospects for each party’s candidates in the race for the open Governor’s seat in 2010? These questions were six in ten (61%) supported GOP nominee posed to likely voters throughout Ernest Istook. Oklahoma and their responses show Female Republicans actually split befascinating patterns and surprising tween Henry and Istook with 50 percent possibilities. supporting each. In the 2006 election, Oklahoma Looking at gender overall, Henry reDemocrats (85%) overwhelmingly ceived majority support from men with 55 supported Brad Henry. Comparapercent voting for the incumbent Governor. tively, fully two in five Republicans Henry’s support among women, however, voted for Governor Henry while just
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Figure 1: Statewide Vote for Governor by Gender and Party

ject of Wilson Research Strategies. The OOQ tracks trends on political, economic, and social issues and reports on the views of Oklahomans on timely and important topics. It is based on scientific polling conducted by WRS, and gathers data on both statewide and Oklahoma City Metropolitan Statistical Area (OKC MSA) samples. The newsletter is designed to be a concise reporting on the results of the quarterly surveys. Each issue details results on a different timely topic as well as reports on the tracking of some key indicators over time. The results presented in this newsletter are based on surveys conducted from December 15-17, 2006. One survey represents 301 respondents from an Oklahoma statewide adult sample, the other, 301 respondents from an OKC MSA adult sample (unless otherwise indicated). The data reported here have a ± 5.7 percent margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level. All articles are written by WRS team members Chris Wilson, Randel Zabel, Pd.D., Can Pham, Daniel Ward, Ryan Steusloff, and Sean McCaffrey. Results presented do not necessarily reflect the views of Wilson Research Strategies.

Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly, a pro-

This is the eighteenth issue of the

Trends in Public Opinion: Looking Beyond Campaign 2006
The OOQ monitors trends in public opinion on matters of political and public affairs in order to both examine the current mood of Oklahomans and chart the ebb and flow of public opinion. We examine patterns and identify trends that coincide with economic, social, and even political factors within the Sooner state. Through the examination of these trends, our hope is to provide interesting and useful data and insights to OOQ subscribers. We hope our readers can use this view of the current position and movement of opinions among Oklahomans to better predict where to position their interests in the months and years to come.
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For more information on the Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly, see page five.

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Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly

Perspective BCS: Bowl Championship Series or Bowl Controversy Series?
While the powers that be insist BCS stands for Bowl Championship Series, given the tumultuous eight year history of the series it seems Bowl Controversy Series would be more appropriate. It has become so bad that even some University Presidents have joined the cry for a playoff system (University of Florida President Bernard Machen among them). How do Oklahoma college football fans feel? We asked Oklahomans their opinions and compared them to national results. Wouldn’t it be better to settle the championship on the field? According to a survey conducted by Gallup in June of 2005, college football fans think it would. Fully two thirds (65%) say they would favor replacing the BCS with a playoff system with just a quarter (25%) opposing a college football playoff. While national sentiment among college football fans clearly favors a playoff system, what does the does Oklahoma think of the BCS, given the state is home to one of the nation’s pre-eminent college football institutions? The numbers are very similar. Among Oklahomans who have an opinion, almost two-thirds (62%) favor instituting a college playoff compared to 38 percent who want to keep the BCS. By age, more than three in four (77%) 45 -54 years old support moving to a playoff system—the most of any age group. Those 55 and above were least supportive, with 56 percent supporting a playoff and 44 percent desiring to stay with the BCS. It’s clear Oklahoma college football fans are just as tired of the BCS system as those in the rest of the nation (62% in Oklahoma compared to 65% nationwide). Now, the only question is, will more university presidents listen to these opinions.

Society Food & Nutrition: Eating Out in 2005
Every one dollar spent in a restaurant generates an additional $1.27 in sales for other industries in the state according to the Oklahoma Restaurant Association.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said “An army marches on its stomach.” In America, by increasing numbers, our population is filling its stomachs less frequently at home and more often at restaurants. According to a national Gallup survey taken December 8-10, 2006, in fact, 56 percent of Americans are eating out in restaurants once a week or more now, up from 52 percent in July of 2003. What about Oklahomans? Sooner state adults are even more likely to eat out often, as just over six in ten (62%) say they eat out once a week or more.
62% 62% 60% 58% 56% 54% 52% US

least likely to eat out once a week or more (48%) and almost one in three (29%) say they only eat out a few times a year or never. On the other end of the spectrum, 84 percent of 25 – 34 year olds eat out once a week or more—the most of any age group.

Eat out once per week or more

56%

Oklahoma

Male Oklahomans are 13-points more likely than women to eat out once a week or more (68% to 55%). Interestingly there are stark differences based on age. Senior Oklahomans are the

It’s also clear that Oklahoma restaurateurs believe these numbers will hold steady as the ORA estimates the industry will add 20,800 jobs in the next ten years. Based on WRS numbers and industry projections, Oklahoma is and will continue to be a great state for the restaurant industry.

Volume Five, Issue Four

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Trends in Oklahoma Opinion
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The data in this issue reflects opinions held by Oklahomans in mid-December 2006, but as always, includes historical data collected and analyzed over the past several years. Previously, the national malaise and growing dissatisfaction with the Bush Administration driving down the president’s approval ratings had not yet fully cemented itself in Oklahoma. In fact, at times, the state seemed to even buck national trends and show increases in Bush’s ratings while it sank nationwide. Finally, it appears, Oklahoma has caught up with the rest of the nation regarding President Bush. Direction of the State Following the 2006 elections, Oklahomans’ perception of the direction of the state has improved over just three months ago, increasing to 59 percent who believe things in Oklahoma are heading in the right direction up from 54 percent who said the same in both September and March of this year.

This is also a marked improvement from just over a year ago when, in November 2005, 50 percent of Oklahomans said the state was heading in the right direction, reflecting a growing positive outlook among a majority of the state.
Figure 2: Direction of Oklahoma
Direction of Oklahoma
70% 59% 56% 50% 50% 47% 40% 40% 39% 30% 38% 31% 27% 20% 25% 20% 10% 10% 6% 0% OOQ1.4 OOQ2.4 Right direction OOQ4.4 Both OOQ5.2 Neither OOQ5.3 Wrong track OOQ5.4 10% 4% 13% 5% 10% 4% 14% 3% 51%

60%

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Voting and Vote Choice Patterns in the 2006 Gubernatorial Race
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Figure 3: Vote for Governor by Ideology

was stunning in its intensity. Henry received the vote of more than three in four (76%) women. Even when controlling for party, these numbers are impressive. Ideologically, conservatives statewide voted for Ernest Istook at a rate of just 53 percent while 47 percent voted for Governor Henry. Less surprisingly, Henry was overwhelmingly supported by liberals (97%) and moderates (84%). We asked respondents why, in their opinion, Brad Henry was re-elected by such a wide margin. The two most frequently cited reasons were

that “Brad Henry is a conservative who agrees with traditionally Republican positions” (26%) and “Oklahoma has grown and prospered under Henry’s leader(Continued on page 4)

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Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly

Voting and Vote Choice Patterns in the 2006 Gubernatorial Race
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ship” (38%). Only one in nine (11%) say they voted for Henry because of a dislike of Ernest Istook. Clearly, this was a vote for Henry rather than a vote against Istook. Voters were asked if they supported more Democrat candidates than in the past elections and it was clear they did. One in three (33%) Democrat voters say they did vote for more Democrat Candidates. More disturbing for Republican leaders in Oklahoma is the fact one in five Republican voters also say they voted for more Democrat candidates—a problematic obstacle for the GOP as any winning Republican in Oklahoma needs to capture upwards of 90 percent of their base voters. Ideologically, two in five (41%) moderates and one in five (19%) conservatives say they increased their support for Democrat candidates from previous years. Those voters who stated the reason for their vote was based on the state’s growth under the leadership of Brad Henry, voted for more Democrat candidates at a rate of 43 percent. Those citing the perceived conservatism of Brad Henry as the reason for his victory voted for more De-

mocrat candidates at a rate of 23 percent. Clearly this illustrates support for Brad Henry. His redefinition of the Democrat brand image impacted Republican candidates down the ballot. Race for Lieutenant Governor There’s little question that the strength of Governor Henry’s win contributed to Jari Askins’ victory in the race for Lieutenant Governor. Almost nine in ten (87%)
Figure 4: Vote for Lieutenant Governor by Henry/Istook voters

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Trends in Public Opinion: Looking Beyond Campaign 2006
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Following this trend, just 20 percent of Oklahomans say the state has gotten off on the wrong track. Three months ago, in September 2006, 22 percent answered similarly, down from 28 percent in March of this year. Showing just how big a difference one year can make, the November 2005 Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly reported 31 percent of respondents saying the state had gotten off on the wrong track.

rats today feel the state has gotten off on the wrong track, as did 16 percent three months ago in September 2006.

Republican respondents paint a different postelection picture, however, with just 47 percent saying the state is headed in the right direction and 30 percent saying the state has gotten off on the wrong track. Despite their losses at the polls last month, though, these numbers are relatively consistent with those from September 2006, when 44 percent of Republicans said the Little has changed among Democrats in the wake of state was headed in the right direction and 27 percent said the state had gotten off on the wrong track. their election victories, with 67 percent saying they believe the state is headed in the right direction, statistiGender lines continue to be evident, as 63 percent cally similar to the 68 percent who reported the same in of men believe the state is headed in the right direction September of this year. Similarly, 14 percent of Democ-

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Volume Five, Issue Four

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Trends in Oklahoma Opinion
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lems of previous years, may also be a contributing factor. New employers relocating to Oklahoma and current employers opting to expand operations, as well as the addition (temporary or otherwise) of a professional sports team, have all helped alleviate the state’s malaise of the early years of this decade. This appears to have succeeded in preventing much of the political and economic angst affecting other areas of the nation from taking root in the Sooner State. Governor Brad Henry In 2004, President Bush carried all 77 of Oklahoma’s counties. Two years later, Brad Henry made history by winning all but three, and in the process, reversing a trend which had seen no Democrat at the top of the ticket garner more than 43 percent since David Boren in 1990. Post-election, Henry has received a substantial bump in job approval ratings from Oklahomans as well, with 82 percent saying they approve of the job he is doing as governor – up from 72 percent three months ago in September 2006. This is a continued trend with Henry’s approval rating at 71 percent in March 2006, 61 percent in November 2005 and 66 percent in Au(Continued on page 6)

compared to 55 percent of women. Conversely, 17 percent of men feel the state has gone down the wrong track to 23 percent of women who feel similarly. What explains these generally positive trends which have continued largely unabated across the state for nearly three years now? Economic growth and relatively low unemployment are surely factors to consider. Continued stability in the state’s budget, especially compared to the probFigure 5: Governor Henry’s Approval
90% 81% 80% 71% 70% 61% 60% 51% 50% 40% 30% 27% 20% 10% 0% *OOQ1.4 *Governor Keating OOQ2.4 OOQ4.4 Approve OOQ5.2 Disapprove OOQ5.3 OOQ5.4 25% 20% 18% 12% 46% 57% 71%

Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly Contact Information

Find out what Oklahoma is thinking.

To Subscribe to OOQ: Ellis Stromberg 1601 Northwest Expressway, Suite 300 Oklahoma City, OK 73118 (405) 286-9512 estromberg@w-r-s.com Chris Wilson 324 Second Street, S.E. Washington, DC 20003 (202) 470-6300 cwilson@w-r-s.com

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Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly

Voting and Vote Choice Patterns in the 2006 Gubernatorial Race
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Istook supporters voted for Hiett, meaning the Republican LG nominee would have needed 30 percent of Henry voters to switch their ballot in order for Hiett to win. Hiett did receive the cross-over votes of almost onequarter of Henry voters (23%) leaving the Republican Speaker a few votes short of victory (actual ballot re-

sults were 50.14% to 47.51%). The closeness of Hiett’s loss is impressive considering the ticket switching votes required to get as close as he did. In fact, Hiett received the votes of 52 percent of conservative Democrats, meaning the Speaker needed just eight percent more from this voter group and he would have won. Race for the State Legislature Moving further down the ballot, voting in the State House elections shows a good measure of split ticket

Figure 6: Vote for State House by Istook and Henry voters

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Trends in Public Opinion: Looking Beyond Campaign 2006
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gust 2004. Once again, Henry has received another all-time OOQ-low in his disapproval rating of 12-percent, besting his previous lows of 19-percent recorded in September 2006, 20 percent in March 2006, and 25 percent in November 2005. As we predicted in the September 2005 issue of OOQ, without a negative shift in Henry’s approval rating, he would be tough to defeat in the polls, and as witnessed on Election Day, such a shift never developed. Interestingly, the governor’s 81 percent approval rating is perfectly constant at 81 percent among both male and female respondents. However, 91 percent of Democrat female respondents approve of the job Henry is doing as governor to just 65 percent of Republican females who approve,

while males are much less divided, with 86 percent of Democrat males approving of Henry’s job and 73 percent of Republican males approving as well. Henry’s approval rating dips only to 63 percent among conservative Republicans, and even 56 percent of respondents who say the state has gone down the wrong track still approve of the job Henry is doing as governor, suggesting that their blame for the state’s woes continues to rest somewhere other than with Oklahoma’s chief executive. Clearly, Brad Henry’s ability to claim credit for Oklahoma’s successes while deflecting blame for failures has continued unabated. President Bush Current national political polling averages President
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Volume Five, Issue Four

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Trends in Oklahoma Opinion
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Figure 7: President Bush Approval
60% 57% 55% 52% 50% 50% 47% 45% 45% 44% 40% 41% 41% 37% 35% 43% 46% 57%

George W. Bush’s job approval at a generally dismal 35 percent. Through much of his administration, Oklahoma voters have been willing to buck national trends by ten-, fifteen-, even twenty-percentage points or more. Despite voter registration rolls continuing to give Democrats an advantage in the Sooner State, political consultants from both sides of the aisle have generally agreed that at the top of the ticket at least, Oklahoma is generally considered a “red state.” As such, it has been devoutly “Bush Country” at election time during presidential cycles, and is expected to remain in the Republican column in 2008 unless a dramatic turn of events occurs. However, the tide of public opinion in Oklahoma is not without its highs and lows, including when it comes to President Bush, and the long war in Iraq (most above all other issues) appears to have taken its toll here too. Today, 46 percent of Oklahomans approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, down from 50 percent in September in the months leading up to

30% OOQ2.4 OOQ4.4 OOQ5.2 Approve OOQ5.3 Disapprove OOQ5.4 National

the elections when the President had kicked his campaign operations into high gear, but still up from a low of 42 percent in June 2006. OOQ reported President Bush’s high of 62 percent in August 2004 (note, OOQ was not yet publishing immediate following the 9-11 attacks when the Presi(Continued on page 8)

Voting and Vote Choice Patterns in the 2006 Gubernatorial Race
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voting. Nearly one in three (28%) Brad Henry supporters crossed over to vote for the Republican candidate for State house (70% of Istook voters supported the Republican). One in four (26%) Askins voters cast their ballot for the Republican candidate for State House. Even one in four (23%) of those who say they supported more Democrats than in past years voted for the Republican State House candidate, proving once again the old adage that “all politics is local.” Support for Brad Henry did not spill over into the legislative races, allowing Republicans to break even in the number of State House seats held and to pick up seats in the State Senate.

Impact on Future Elections When asked to look ahead to the gubernatorial election in 2010 voters aren’t ready to give support based just on generic party identification. In fact, the generic Republican leads the generic Democrat 23 percent to 20 percent. Republican voters were much firmer in their commitment to their party’s candidate than Democrat voters to theirs.
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Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly

Voting and Vote Choice Patterns in the 2006 Gubernatorial Race
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Figure 9: Vote for Governor Thinking Ahead to 2010

to vote for the Democrat candidate, while 35 percent of conservatives say they intend to vote for the Republican. Brad Henry’s reelection was impressive in its margin of victory and its near sweeping of every county in the state. Henry’s incumbent status and the state of the economy worked to his advantage, but the defection of Republican voters added to his margin of victory. An extraordinary gender gap also favored Henry as women of both parties voted for the incumbent. Additional understanding of the results of this particular election is gained by recognizing the perception that Henry’s conservatism made him indistinguishable from a Republican candidate. To paraphrase Harry Truman, if you give voters the choice between a Republican and a Republican, they’ll choose the Republican every time. With an open seat for the Governor’s race looming, what do the results of the 2006 election mean for 2010?
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Forty-eight percent of Republican voters say they will vote for the Republican candidate, compared to just 35 percent of Democrats who say they plan to vote for the Democrat candidate. Ideologically, Oklahoma voters show some ambivalence in their support. Forty-six percent of liberals plan

Trends in Public Opinion: Looking Beyond Campaign 2006
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dent’s approval ratings nationally, and in Oklahoma, were considerably higher). Today, a near-mirror image 45 percent of Oklahomans disapprove of the job the president is doing, up from 41 percent in September, down slightly from 48 percent in June 2006, but up from 41 percent in November 2005. Among Republicans, however, the President continues to falter, with just 69 percent approving of his job in office, down from 74 percent in September of this year. At the time, three months ago, OOQ reported Bush would need a target 80-percent approval rate both here in Oklahoma and nationally among the Republican voter base to turnout party-faithful voters in significant enough numbers to sustain the Republican majority at pre-election levels. With Republican approval ratings in the high-sixties here in Oklahoma and significantly

less in other regions of the nation, the Republican National Committee’s attempt to nationalize the elections was simply a non-starter in the Sooner state. What should come as particular concern for Republicans today is the growing dissatisfaction among the party’s conservative base. Three months ago, among conservative Republicans, 91 percent approved of the president’s job to just six percent who disapprove. Today, just 78 percent of conservative Republicans approve of the president’s job in office while 16 percent disapprove. Most Important Issue Facing Oklahoma While immigration was a centerpiece issue of Campaign 2006, replacing education as the top issue on Oklahomans’ minds in the September 2006 OOQ, the two have reversed themselves again, post-election.
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Volume Five, Issue Four

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Trends in Oklahoma Opinion
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Figure 10: Most Important Issue to Oklahomans

Today, one in six (15%) respondents said education was their top issue, down from 18 percent in September, but still just a fraction of the nearly 50 percent of respondents who selected education as their top issue in 2002 when thencandidate for Governor Brad Henry made it his top campaign issue. Immigration and moral values tied for second place among respondents as the top issue, each being the choice of one in seven (14%) Oklahomans today. For immigration, this was down from 19 percent in September.

Count on the Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly to continue tracking vital trends and indicators in Oklahoma public opinion.

Voting and Vote Choice Patterns in the 2006 Gubernatorial Race
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At first glance, it might be tempting to hail the reemergence of the Oklahoma Democrat Party. The question to ask is: “How deep is the support for Henry’s brand of conservative Democrat in Oklahoma?” The answer appears to be “not very”. The Republican Party was able to hold the majority in the State House and gained enough seats in the State Senate for a tie. Early signs point to a competitive race for the Governor’s mansion in 2010. Brad Henry’s reelection does not signal an advantage for the Democrat candidate. Just one in three (32%) Henry voters say they intend to vote for the Democrat in 2010. Even those who laud Henry’s leadership are split concerning the 2010 gubernatorial race. Twentypercent of those stating leadership in growth was why Brad Henry won in November, say they intend to vote

for the Republican candidate. Only 29 percent say they intend to vote for the Democrat candidate. As for conservative Democrats gaining the upper hand, of those who say Henry’s conservatism led to his victory, most (55%) are undecided in their choice for 2010 and those who stated a preference are evenly split between Democrat and Republican. Thus, with Brad Henry’s historic reelection behind, state Republicans are looking ahead to 2010. Early indications are that a competitive race lies ahead and the reemergence of the dominant Democrat Party in Oklahoma may be short lived. At the very least, expect 2010 to be far more competitive.

Volume Five, Issue Four

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WRS: A Good Year in a Bad Year
WRS clients win in 75 percent of races in worst GOP year since Watergate
Wilson Research Strategies was once again one of the most successful public affairs consulting firms this year working with Republican candidates and conservative causes. Overall, WRS played a role in 72 campaigns nationally. Of those 72 contests, 54 WRS clients were victorious on Election Day. Some of the more impressive wins including the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, where WRS worked closely with Ward Connerly and Jennifer Gratz to garner 58 percent of the vote. WRS also consulted with the Oklahoma State House of Representatives, working with Representative Trebor Worthen, Fount Holland and Josh Kivett to see Republicans hold their 13 seat margin in the State House despite facing the best Democrat year in Oklahoma since Watergate. Democrat political consultant James Carville once said you learn much more from losing than you do from winning, and we certainly learned a great deal from the campaigns in which our candidates lost. At the end of the day, however, we see all candidates for public office as winners as they have done their part to make America a better place. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by the dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly... who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.” We at WRS extend a sincere appreciation to our clients around the United States (and elsewhere in the world) who allowed us to help them as they stepped into the arena.

Oklahoma Opinion Quarterly

A project of Wilson Research Strategies 1601 Northwest Expressway Suite 300 Oklahoma City, OK 73118 Phone: 405-286-6500 Fax: 405-286-6454 Email: ooq@w-r-s.com

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