Gazette Poll: Big win, again

Two polls conducted prior to the election by Oklahoma Gazette and News 9 adjusted for the demographics of traditional voters in Oklahoma City elections and predicted that Cornett would carry 63 percent of the March 4 vote. Cornett earned 31,514 votes and 66 percent of the total.

Shadid’s campaign, dramatically out-financed by Cornett’s campaign and support groups outside his campaign, failed to attract sufficient numbers of nontraditional voters or to convert voters favoring Cornett.

Also, the News9/Oklahoma Gazette poll taken a week before the election indicated that 68 percent of voters felt Cornett had the leadership qualities to be mayor, compared to only 20 percent for Shadid.

When asked which candidate had the best plan for Oklahoma City, 66 percent favored Cornett and 23 percent favored Shadid.

Similar numbers indicated voter opinions about which candidate was most qualified with Cornett considered most qualified by 68 percent of the voters and Shadid by 20 percent.

Shadid received 15,749 votes in the election, representing 33 percent of the total. Virtually all of the undecided and support for minor candidates shifted to Shadid on election day, but Shadid’s campaign was unable to sway the twothirds of the voters favoring Cornett.

Campaign strategies
Cornett played off his strengths during the campaign, stressing his successes as mayor and avoiding face-to-face meetings with Shadid in debates and forums.

While not a topic of Cornett’s public campaign, he benefited from the release of Shadid’s divorce documents during the campaign, data reflects.

Voters asked in the News9/Oklahoma Gazette poll the week before the election felt Shadid ran the more negative campaign; 41 percent thought Shadid’s campaign was more negative, and 16 percent thought Cornett’s was.

Also possibly working against Shadid: The registered Independent candidate lacked loyalty or recognition from his own party. Showing
the truest nonpartisan tendencies of all parties, 84 percent of
Independents polled said affiliation influenced their vote “very little”
or “not at all.” In other words, Shadid failed to secure relationships
within his own party.

Also,
campaign support from employee associations, or unions, didn’t
influence for whom people voted, the poll showed. For example, fire and
police unions publicly endorsed Shadid. However, 63 percent said union
support would not likely sway their decisions.

Negative campaigns?
Days before the election, Shadid’s campaign took what many considered to be a negative turn.

An
11th-hour mailer sent to OKC Republican househoulds the weekend prior
to the election raised some ire when Shadid bashed Cornett for perceived
gay-friendly decisions and for not doing enough to stop a gay- and
lesbian-themed play on city property in December.

A
second mailer, sent to Democrats, left out the language. The former,
mailed to Republicans, largely used word-for-word verbiage from a Bob
Dani commentary published in Oklahoma Gazette on Feb. 26.

Shadid and Cornett’s campaigns recommended community leaders for Oklahoma Gazette commentaries for the paper’s election issue.

In “A Republican for
Shadid,” Dani wrote, “Cornett voted for a 2011 ‘gay rights’ Oklahoma
City Council resolution. He did nothing to stop the offensive pro-gay
Christmastime play (The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told) on city-owned property last year.”

After
social media backlash to what many saw as Shadid’s own duplicitous
language, especially regarding his own, well-documented history of
supporting gay and lesbian equality, Shadid apologized and said many had
it backward:

“Today, I
was blindsided by some of the language used in a mailer from my
campaign. I did not authorize the language in the mailer. … The focus
of the message on today’s mailer was to highlight Mick’s duplicitous
stance towards the LGBT community.”

However,
the mailer amplified a contentious city, state and national debate for
equality. Bill Shapard, who organized and gathered scientific poll
restults though his company, Shapard Research, said that the News9/ Oklahoma Gazette poll
also asked a question that hasn’t been asked during his history as a
pollster: Would you vote for an openly gay or lesbian mayoral candidate?
Fifty-two percent of likely voters said they would not vote for an
openly gay or lesbian mayoral candidate. Thirty-five percent said they
would, and 13 percent were unsure.

Wins … and wins
When
Cornett addressed supporters after his win at a watch party at Grill on
the Hill in south Oklahoma City, he said, “This is a very important
juncture in Oklahoma City’s history. … We have been on a trajectory
here of good news for nearly 20 years.”

He admitted this win was hardearned. It also sets a record; Cornett is the first four-term mayor in OKC’s history.

“I was a nervous wreck all day long,” he said. “It just felt like there was so much riding on this election.”

His
primary goal with this reelection, he said, is to continue toward
completion of all of Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) development, as
he has also done during his decade in office.

On the other side of town, Shadid conceded with a message of hope and change.

Shadid
largely ran on a platform of public spending reform by examining MAPS 3
and related projects, including a new convention center and proposed
hotel, and of building and improving city infrastructure, including bus
travel and routes, especially for the middle and lower classes.

“You
can win, even in loss,” the Ward 2 councilman said. “You can lose the
battle and win the war, and that’s what’s happening. There is a movement
growing in Oklahoma City. There is questioning and a dialogue and
deliberation and debate starting about how we transition to be a
bigleague city. ” Lt. Governor candidate Cathy Cummings, and husband,
Sean Cummings, were hopeful before the election results were finalized.

“Tomorrow,
Ed is mayor or he is the most powerful city councilman we’ve ever
seen,” Sean Cummings said. “He’s willing to be cannon fodder … to create
a dialogue in our city and with the City Council.”

Cathy Cummings agreed. “Ed is and always has been for every person in Oklahoma City.

“He’s
resonated with the people who live in great parts of town and
not-so-great parts of town and people have gotten so frustrated with how
the city is run that they’re finally getting involved, and that’s a
victory for Ed Shadid,” she said.

Managing Editor Kelley Chambers contributed to this report.

Jennifer Chancellor

Jennifer is editor-in-chief of Oklahoma Gazette. Her journalistic work includes news, breaking news, music, feature and news feature reporting, investigative journalism, news photography, videography, blogging, page design and marketing spanning more than two decades in Oklahoma. Twitter: @JenChancellor

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