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Public 'blames Mary Fallin more than the Legislature' for Oklahoma's woes, new poll finds
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Public 'blames Mary Fallin more than the Legislature' for Oklahoma's woes, new poll finds

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Oklahomans aren’t happy about their state government and are inclined to spread their wrath broadly, according to a recent SoonerPoll.

Budget scrapes, teachers fleeing to other states if not other professions, apparent mismanagement of the state Health Department, prison overcrowding, and interminable bickering between legislative leaders and Gov. Mary Fallin seem to have soured voters on the state’s leadership, the survey of 409 likely voters found.

Fifty-eight percent said they have an unfavorable view of Gov. Mary Fallin’s job performance, and 57 percent disapproved of the job the Legislature is doing. They blamed Fallin slightly more than lawmakers for the state’s budget problems, were they were about evenly divided on whether Republicans or Democrats were most to blame, and more than one in five couldn’t choose just one.

The numbers fit with growing speculation that 2018 could be very difficult for incumbents, several of whom have elected to leave the Legislature rather than seek re-election.

“Legislative bodies never poll well,” said SoonerPoll President Bill Shapard. “The voting public, though, blames Mary Fallin more than the Legislature for the situation. People like finality, and what Mary Fallin is not giving them is finality.”

The only real difference between Fallin and the Legislature is that more people are undecided about the latter. Just 7 percent of those surveyed said they have a “very favorable” opinion of the Legislature, lower than even Fallin’s modest 12 percent. Each was rated “somewhat favorable” by 24 percent.

Democrats were much more critical of the Republican Fallin and the Republican-led Legislature than GOP voters were, but even among Republicans 44 percent were unhappy with Fallin and 46 percent disapproved of the Legislature’s performance.

In another question, respondents were asked whom they blamed most for lack of leadership on the budget. Twenty-eight percent said Fallin, compared to 22 percent for the Legislature. Republicans in general were blamed by 13 percent, and 12 percent blamed Democrats.

Interestingly, the higher the respondent’s level of education, the more likely he or she was to blame the Legislature instead of Fallin.

Republicans have been battered from the right and the left as tightening revenue has created pressure to raise taxes, cut spending or both.

With some success, the minority Democrats have tried to lay blame on the ruling GOP, but that has led to charges of sabotaging Republican efforts to raise teacher pay and adopt revenue-raising measures.

“What people want,” Shapard said, “are solutions to their problems.”

Randy Krehbiel

918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @rkrehbiel

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