Sabatos Crystal Ball

Oklahoma Races

Senate Outlook for 2008

Can Democrats Take Advantage of the Turf?

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Oklahoma

Outlook: Solid Republican


June 19, 2008 Update:

Voters worldwide are worried about the global rice shortage, but come November, state senator Andrew Rice better worry about an Oklahoman voter shortage. Incumbent Senator Jim Inhofe owns a commanding twenty-two point lead in a recent DailyKos poll, despite weak favorability numbers, and Inhofe isn’t resting on his laurels. The Senator is already on TV with an ad turning his biggest weakness (“stubbornness”) into political strengths by highlighting his “hardheaded” fights to defend Oklahoma’s interests in the Senate. This race is over before it even started, and other than unforgivable puns on the challenger’s name, there’s nothing to see here, folks.

April 14, 2008 Update:

Don’t look to Oklahoma for your fill of political intrigue this cycle. Republican incumbent Jim Inhofe is sitting pretty with the election only seven months away: the most recent polling data gives him an almost unreal 60-19 advantage over Democratic challenger and state senator Andrew Rice. Polls conducted for Rice narrow that lead to 14 points, but still have well over half of Oklahoma’s electorate approving of Inhofe’s job as Senator. Inhofe has won his last two elections with 57 percent of the vote; Rice may get slightly closer than his two predecessors, but Inhofe still should win.


Background

Republican incumbent Senator Jim Inhofe is looking to win a third full term in 2008. Until recently, he had no declared opponents on whom to unleash his $1.4 million treasury. That all changed on August 2, when Democratic state senator Andrew Rice, just one year into his first term, filed with the FEC to seek the seat.

Rice and Inhofe will produce quite a distinct choice for voters. Rice ran for his state senate seat as a self-proclaimed ”social progressive,” garnering endorsements from the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club. Inhofe, on the other hand, called ”man-made global warming” the ”greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” He also has received support in the past from the American Conservative Union, the National Rifle Association, and the Club for Growth.

The Democratic side of the ballot isn’t necessarily set in stone, however, as state Attorney General Drew Edmonson and former Lieutenant Governor Jack Mildren are both weighing potential runs and have set tentative announcement dates of September.

While Inhofe’s November 2006 SurveyUSA poll disapproval rate of 41% shows that there is some chance for a take-over, most Oklahomans seem to be ideologically closer to Inhofe than to Rice. Oklahoma is one of the most conservative states in the nation, making up for their Democratic governor with four out of five U.S. representatives and both senators serving as members of the Republican Party. In 2004, Bush carried Oklahoma with 66% of the vote after a 22% margin of victory in 2000. Although Democrats finally have a challenger, there is still work to be done before they will have a chance.

Candidates

Andrew Rice – Democrat – state senator
Website

James Inhofe (I) – Republican – current Senator
Website