New poll reveals that Oklahomans like school choice

According to a new Sooner Poll, Oklahoma voters strongly prefer school choice and giving parents the right to use tax dollars to send their child to their choice of public or private schools.

Support for school choice is overwhelming with 70 percent of all voters, including 79 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of registered Democrats support school choice for public or private schools.

Forty-seven percent strongly support school choice and it is favored by 54 percent among those Republicans with a history of voting in primaries. Women with a child in the home are the most committed to school choice with 78 percent supporting parental ability to direct their tax dollars to a public or private school of their choosing and 60 percent say they strongly favor this ability.  Those under 45 years of age are the most supportive of school choice (75 percent) – but even among those over 65 years of age, 67 percent still support it.

Rural residents (70 percent favor) are just as supportive as are their counterparts from the two large metro centers (70 percent favor). The strongest support comes from households with incomes of less than $50,000 a year (78 percent favor school choice) and this support steadily decreases to 67 percent support among voters with annual family incomes in excess of $100,000. The poll claims that Tea Party advocates (which represent 30 percent of the total electorate) are strong supporters (78 percent favor school choice), but even among the 31 percent of Oklahomans who disagree with the Tea Party, there is solid support (58 percent favor school choice).

School choice is not just a secondary issue. Two-thirds of voters say it is either “extremely” or “very” important to them. The key, however, is that 34 percent say it is an extremely important issue. Women with a child in the home (54 percent), those getting educational information from social media (50 percent), Tea Party supporters (45 percent) and lower-income homes (48 percent) see school choice as an extremely important issue. Even among key swing groups such as those neutral toward the Tea Party (68 percent extremely/very important) this issue has the ability to affect an election.

More than three times as many Oklahomans say competition helps schools (67 percent) as say it does not (21 percent). Seventy-two percent of Republicans hold this belief as do 63 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of rural residents and 70 percent of those neutral toward the Tea Party – the critical swing bloc in Oklahoma elections.

This Sooner Survey was taken October 26 – November 5, 2015. It was a telephone survey of 500 registered voters. This story was based on a report by Pat McFerron, president of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates, Inc.