Poll shows 1-point lead for Stitt over Hofmeister in governor's race
Gov. Kevin Stitt, whose administration has spent much of the past year navigating accusations of scandal and a wave of "dark money" opposition, is in a virtual tie with his Democratic challenger, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Stitt, a first-term Republican, has support among 43.7% of likely voters in November's election, compared to 42.7% for Democrat Joy Hofmeister, according to a survey from SoonerPoll, which was commissioned by News9 in Oklahoma City and Newson6 in Tulsa.
Eight percent said they were undecided, while Independent Ervin Yen's support was at 3.9%, and Libertarian Natalie Bruno was at 2.6%.
Of the handful of polls conducted ahead of November's general election, SoonerPoll's results showed the closest contest.
Most polls have shown Hofmeister trailing by a significant margin, including an Echelon Insights poll last week that had Stitt with a 19-point lead.
Gender gap shows up in recent poll
One of the most striking separators in support in the SoonerPoll results is gender.
Stitt had a 16-point lead among men, while Hofmeister had a 10-point lead among women, according to details from SoonerPoll.
Much has been made of the female vote this year across the country following the U.S. Supreme Court's overturn of abortion rights. New voter registration among women has surged in the months since the court's decision and Oklahoma had the fifth-highest growth rate of women voters in the nation, according to The New York Times.
But while Hofmeister has said she supports abortion rights and Stitt signed a near-total abortion ban earlier this year, the issue hasn't been a frequent topic in campaign commercials or stump speeches.
Instead, Hofmeister has regularly accused Stitt of running a "corrupt" office, pointing to an OSBI investigation into state park restaurant contracts that resulted in the resignation of the governor-appointed Tourism and Recreation Department director, and a federal investigation into Stitt's use of pandemic relief funds for education.
"The majority of Oklahomans have an unfavorable opinion of the governor," Hofmeister said in a statement to The Oklahoman. "He's running our state into the ground with self-dealing and cronyism, and ignoring the needs of our state. Oklahomans deserve better and that's why I'm running."
Stitt has faced a wave of 'dark money' attacks
Stitt saw the same criticism during the Republican primary, which he won by a large margin. Multiple "dark money" groups ran commercials that attempted to tie the governor to various scandals.
"Gov. Stitt has had a six-month barrage of negative ads against him, despite not having a credible Republican opponent," said Bill Shapard, the founder of SoonerPoll. "This is a point in time, not a prediction, and it is a baseline survey that shows other Republicans leading by double digits."
Shapard predicted Hofmeister would see a drop in support once she became the target of negative ads.
"The most interesting thing to me is no one has started any negative or informative ads against Joy Hofmeister yet," Shapard said. "I imagine her numbers will go down as well."
Stitt's campaign downplayed the accuracy of the poll.
“This is the same group who failed to predict Gov. Stitt’s 12-point victory in 2018, and this year has continued to publish outlandish predictions that haven’t materialized like a so-called ‘down-to-the-wire’ U.S. Senate runoff and a 20-point spread in the attorney general’s race," said Donelle Harder, Stitt's campaign manager.
FiveThirtyEight, a political news site that reviews multiple polls, gives SoonerPoll a C+ grade based on 25 polls conducted over the last several years.
FiveThirtyEight has rated Stitt as "very likely" to win in November, although the SoonerPoll was not yet added to its model as of Tuesday afternoon.