Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field among Oklahoma Democrats just more than six months before the state’s presidential primary, but the party’s state chairwoman believes that edge may be fragile.
Biden garnered support from 40 of the 152 Oklahoma Democrats surveyed by Sooner Poll, which equals 26.2 percent of those surveyed. Oklahoma native Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) received support from 17 Oklahoma Democrats (11.5 percent of respondents) while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had 12 (7.6 percent).
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) won Oklahoma’s 2016 Democratic primary but finished fifth fifth in the poll with eight respondents or 5.4 percent. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg received the support of nine respondents (5.9 percent) in the poll.
The SoonerPoll survey has a 5 percent margin of error.
“I think that part of the poll with Joe Biden at 26 percent is really interesting,” Sooner Poll founder Bill Shapard said. “Sanders won the state less than four years ago, and he’s at just five percent. Pete Buttigieg has about the same level of support. I think this shows that, once again, Oklahoma Democrats voted for Bernie because they didn’t like Hillary (Clinton). This poll shows that Biden, who is the biggest moderate in the race so far, is doing best in Oklahoma.”
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Of the 152 Democrats surveyed, 52 (or 34.1 percent) said they were undecided in the primary election, which will be held on “Super Tuesday” March 3, 2020. Independents are eligible to vote in that election.
One month before the 2016 Democratic presidential primary in Oklahoma, Shapard polled the race between Clinton and Sanders and found Clinton ahead 43 percent to 28 percent despite momentum for Sanders. When voters actually cast ballots, Sanders prevailed 51.9 percent to 45.1 percent.
Results align with national polls
Biden is also ahead nationally in virtually every Democratic primary poll. According to an average of polls measured by Real Clear Politics, Biden leads the field with about 30 percent support among likely voters. Warren stands second with 18.5 percent followed by Sanders who is at 17.5 percent.
Biden has also performed ahead of his colleagues when it comes to a hypothetical head to head against Donald Trump, according to Real Clear Politics.
“I think there is a perception among Democrats both at the state and national level that Biden might be the best equipped to face Trump,” Shapard said. “I think that is in part driving the results.”
Biden lead might be fluid
Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairwoman Alicia Andrews said most Democrats she talks to in Oklahoma have yet to make their decision, a view backed up by Shapard’s poll, which found 34 percent of respondents undecided.
“As I talk to people, I hear a lot of people saying they’re still in the same place they were — the same place that I am — which is I still haven’t decided yet, and I consider myself to be pretty plugged in,” she said.
Andrews also believes Oklahoma’s base of Democratic Party voters might be more progressive than the poll found.
“I think that poll tends to lend itself to oversampling of people who identify as moderates, that there are more moderates here than the rest of the nation,” she said. “I’m not sure that is the case that Oklahoma Democrats are mostly moderate. As I talk to people around the state, it’s clear we have a very liberal, very actively engaged group of progressive Democrats in Oklahoma.”
Andrews said she wasn’t surprised by the high number of undecided voters. She said that’s in part a product of the general election being more than a year away, and also the high number of candidates running.
“There are a lot of candidates right now, and we’re still over six months away from our own primary, and even further away from the election,” she said. “As it gets closer, I anticipate that undecided number will be drastically reduced.”
Andrews said she expects Oklahoma Democrats to be locked in and engaged when it’s time to vote, both in the March 3 primary and also in the November 2020 general election.
“I think we’ll have great turnout for the primary,” Andrews said. “These are scary times. And I think people will want to get out and have their voices heard.”
Download the full SoonerPoll results
The full results of the latest SoonerPoll survey from July 17 through July 27 can be viewed and downloaded below. The poll has a 5 percent margin of error.