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Oklahoma's governor's race poised to be a 'classic'

Oklahoma elections: Mary Fallin has slight lead in governor's race, but it's not a sure thing
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: August 2, 2010 at 10:04 am •  Published: August 2, 2010

Survey says

Fallin has won every elective office she has sought, going back to 1990. Askins stumbled in her first bid for elective office, but has won every race since.

Fallin won without a runoff in a four-way race, winning 54.8 percent of the vote. State Sen. Randy Brogdon, of Owasso, received 39.4 percent of the votes. Brogdon has not yet publicly endorsed Fallin.

Ben Odom, a former state Democratic party official, said Fallin was expected to win a higher percentage and her underperformance may cause some support to drift. He doesn't see a large gap between the two.

"Mary has a slight lead at this point, but I don't think it's anything she ought to feel good about," he said.

A statewide telephone survey of 500 likely voters in Oklahoma conducted July 28 by Rasmussen Reports showed Fallin ahead of Askins, 57-36 percent. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Askins won 50.3 percent of the vote, or just 1,493 more votes out of 263,649 cast, in her win over Edmondson.

More momentum

Odom said Askins' surprise victory last week may allow her to continue her momentum.

Edmondson pledging immediately to back Askins could also help.

McFerron said he believes Fallin has about a 15-point edge over Askins.

"Can she hold onto it? I think she'll be able to," he said. "But I think there will be times in the campaign where it appears that it's getting very close. It's going to be really tough for Jari Askins to run away from Barack Obama who is incredibly negative here even if her only connection is they are members of the same party."

McFerron said he anticipates Fallin will pick up most of Brogdon's voters.

"Brogdon probably got some votes of people that knew Fallin was going to win and just wanted to have a little bit of a protest vote against government in general," he said. "I think they come back to Fallin in the general election. I think you'll find out in the general election that she has near unanimous Republican support."

Odom said Fallin will need to change her style of campaign ads to be successful this year.

"The No. 1 thing she's going to have to battle in this campaign is a perceived lack of gravitas to deal with the issues," Odom said. "Her 'I love Oklahoma'-type commercials aren't going to hack it this year. People are very aware that Oklahoma faces tough choices and budget problems.

"Folks are getting tired of the usual fluff."

Hill said both candidates shouldn't "dumb down the voter and just assume that they don't want to know information. ... People really are interested."