On this episode of Capitol Insider, Dr. Amy Goodin of OU Poll joins KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley to discuss polling and focus groups commissioned for Oklahoma Engaged, a collaboration between NPR member stations in Oklahoma. Goodin talks about the general “disillusionment” of voters throughout the state, as well as some of their ideas about how to fund public education, the leading political concern in the 2018 election cycle.
Dick Pryor: This is Capitol insider. Your weekly look inside Oklahoma politics, policy, and elections. I'm Dick Pryor with eCapitol News Director Shawn Ashley. As Part of our Oklahoma Engaged Project Public Office election reporting, we commissioned OU Poll to conduct public opinion polling and focus groups to learn the attitudes of Oklahoma voters on various important issues. We're joined by Dr. Amy Goodin of OU Poll, who has just finished a series of focus groups. Amy welcome.
Amy Goodin: It's nice to be here. Thank you for having me.
Shawn Ashley: Dr. Goodin, what was your primary takeaway from the focus groups you recently conducted?
Goodin: The primary issues that we saw, both in the surveys and then in the focus groups, were like education. Well that's obvious no brainer-- we had the strike. We have health care. That's an ongoing problem nationally and locally. But what we kept seen in the verbatim responses and the detailed discussions was how do we get there? Basically, what we saw both in our survey data but especially in the focus groups was that we have a slew of disillusioned citizens that are really hoping that we can find some way to fix the biggest problems in Oklahoma, but they're not sure what the steps are or how to get there, because there is an underlying problem that they see other than just specific issues as well.
Pryor: When you say voters are disillusioned, did they indicate why?
Goodin: Good ole boy politics came about in all of our our regions throughout the state and corporations having legislators and administrators in their pockets,.
Pryor: So they don't feel like their representatives are properly representing them? They Are and they're really representing special interests?
Goodin: Correct, correct.
How did voters say education could be improved.
We saw time and again the primary way to get back at funding was legalizing recreational marijuana. It was a uniform answer in all the regions they saw as the best way to grow the tax base, basically to solve problems.
Pryor: So voters see that as a big part of the solution?
Correct. And there was a lot of talk about all the teachers running for office to try to fix the education problem. They were very supportive of that, because they feel like they know better what is needed for the kids and for education to move the state forward.
Ashley: I think in the focus groups one of the ideas that came up was that oftentimes politicians divert money for pet projects. Is that a common feeling out there?
Goodin: Very much so. And it goes back to that good ole boy corporate relationship interests. They feel like it's trying to buy continued votes and support. And they also see it as a way, too, for legislators when they do leave office to get jobs.
Ashley: I think you result from the focus groups also showed, on one hand, voters were willing to tax corporations outside the state and the oil and gas industry. But, at the same time, they also feel we're kind of taxed enough already. Is that a contradiction?
I think it's more of they don't want to see all the money leaving the state. So if we're giving all these benefits to corporations and they're not headquartered in the state that doesn't give a strong give back to the community. They knew and know that some corporations do give back, but they don't feel like it's enough and that too many of them take the money out of state.
Pryor: Do you have a feel for how informed voters actually are about government?
I think that they could be a little more informed, but I think part of it is they don't know where to necessarily find the information that they need. And those were some discussions that we had and some of the groups. I know in Lawton one of our participants actually told another participant, "Oh well you can look up candidate information on Ballotpedia and sites like that online." And people were shocked to know that there were things out there like that. So I think part of it is they just need to know where to find it. Because they're just not that savvy of looking on the internet and through tools like that.
Pryor: Overall, what would you say is the mood of the voter this year in Oklahoma?
Goodin: Depressed... At least the individuals I talked to, because they're not sure if necessarily we can fix things fast enough, even if we do get in new people into the legislature or new agency heads or or what have you. They're just not sure.
Pryor: Dr. Amy Goodin thanks for joining us on Capitol insider.
Goodin: Thank you for having me.
Pryor: That's Capitol Insider. If you have questions e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on Twitter: @kgounews. You can also find us online at kgou.org and ecapitol.net. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.