Nearly one-quarter of state voters are registered Democrats who don't support Barack Obama. Keep this in mind when election results roll in Nov. 6. If Obama loses all 77 counties, as he did in 2008, it won't be solely due to Republican voters.
Keep this in mind as well if the 2nd Congressional District seat switches from Democratic control (incumbent Dan Boren declined to run again) to GOP control. The district is a traditionally Democratic Party stronghold. And keep this in mind when viewing the continued popularity of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.
Sooner Survey reported last month that Fallin has a 70 percent approval rate among Oklahoma's registered Democrats who dislike Obama. That's higher than her overall rate. In Little Dixie, Fallin enjoys the support of 61 percent of voters.
The governor's GOP national convention speech, largely drowned out by the networks covering the convention, gave Fallin a platform to extol Oklahoma values. She drew a sharp contrast between Obama's central planning philosophy and the pioneers who settled this state using their own grit and determination.
For this, she was reminded by her critics in the sneering class that the federal government played a starring role in white settlement: It owned the land and provided policing services. So what? Washington didn't clear the land, plow the fields, nurse the babies or can the vegetables. Yes, Mr. President, the settlers did that.
Their descendants, including a lot of Democrats, favor politicians who give respect where respect is due. Fallin does. Obama does not.
Barn door's already open
Online learning is on the rise, although it faces resistance from some quarters. The Internet has opened doors few knew existed just a few years ago; failure to develop the market won't protect the old system. For example, Virginia has become the go-to place to obtain a concealed-carry permit through online courses. Virginia doesn't require in-person firearm training — only passing a written test and criminal background check. Because 26 states have reciprocity agreements with Virginia, citizens from states with more stringent requirements are taking Virginia-based online courses to obtain a permit that will be honored in their home state. As that shows, the Internet provides consumers greater choice and the ability to go outside traditional channels. In the same fashion, Oklahomans are soon going to obtain K-12 education online. The only question is if Oklahoma will be on the front edge of that change.
We've noted that Oklahoma's liquor laws are overly complex and impede the free market. Defenders of the current system may take heart in the results of Washington state's privatization of the liquor market. That would be a mistake. Previously, the state of Washington owned liquor stores; nongovernmental sellers could only provide wine or beer. State voters recently approved a measure to privatize the industry. The number of retail outlets surged from 328 to more than 1,500. You would expect that to lower costs to consumers, but liquor prices rose 17 percent. The reason for the increase wasn't a bizarre side effect of greater competition, but significant taxes of 10 percent and 17 percent imposed on distributors and retailers, respectively. Just as excessive regulation can reduce competition and drive up prices, excessive taxes can undermine the benefits of competition and punish consumers.
Taking Obama at his word
Consumers facing higher prices at the pump are also facing higher prices at the grocery store. Beef prices are up 6 percent over last year, and even higher prices are likely in the future. After 2011's drought, the national cattle herd was reduced to its lowest level in 60 years. This year's drought is further reducing herd size. Even if the coming year brings plentiful rain, it may take several years to rebuild herds and increase supply and consumer prices will remain higher. President Barack Obama's arbitrary restrictions on oil and gas exploration are partly to blame for higher fuel prices, but it's harder to make the case that he's to blame for beef prices. Of course, Obama did promise to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. So if we take him at his word, maybe he does deserve blame for the weather.
All systems go
Oklahoma voters should be encouraged by the state Election Board secretary's latest review of our new system. The state is breaking in new machines that are an upgrade of the optical scanning machines that worked superbly for two decades. There have been a few small hiccups along the way, but Secretary Paul Ziriax says those have been addressed. With the Aug. 28 primary runoff elections, there were no problems in reporting results on the state's website. A computer glitch in the June primary election led to incomplete results being labeled as complete results. The third-party vendor responsible for displaying the results was subsequently fired, and the Election Board's staff developed a different procedure. Now county-level results are available online, along with state-level races. The new system “worked fantastically,” Ziriax says. “It was accurate, it was fast.” Good news as the Nov. 6 general election approaches.
Plain talk about tornadoes
The experts at the National Weather Service can tell you all you'd ever want to know about the science of tornadoes. But they're interested in learning what average citizens know about twisters. Three town hall meetings are being held (the first was Thursday night in Norman) to let residents do the talking. “This might be the first time meteorologists have really tried to learn about other ways of thinking about tornadoes from local people,” said Kim Klockow, with the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences. Klockow said her colleagues are finding that what local people believe about twisters can influence how they react to them, as much or more than what forecasters provide. “We know a lot about the weather, but we know much less about the beliefs or local knowledge of the local people who are experiencing it,” Klockow said. It's an interesting concept. Folks in Moore and Newcastle will want to mark their calendars. Town halls are planned Sept. 20 in Moore and Oct. 4 in Newcastle, with locations and times to be determined.
The Democratic National Convention opened with a series of speakers focused on abortion and birth control. The party's 2012 platform supports abortion “regardless of ability to pay,” a phrase indicating endorsement of taxpayer-funded abortions. Given the severity of the economic challenges facing our country, it may seem odd for the Democrats to open with abortion as their rallying cry, but it's designed to drive up turnout among their strongest partisans. What it may not do is attract mainstream voters, including women. In May, Gallup polling found 59 percent of Americans felt abortion should be either illegal or allowed only in a few circumstances. In 2009, Gallup found that more women considered themselves pro-life than pro-choice. Polling has also shown as many as 67 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortions. In seeking the embrace of fringe interest groups, Democrats are ignoring the more pressing economic concerns of mainstream Americans.