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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> Senate -- Oklahoma

Coburn To Run for Re-Election

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) announced this morning in Tulsa that he will in fact run next year for a second term, mulitple news outlets report. A practicing physician known to despise the free-spending ways of Washington, it had been rumored Coburn was leaning toward retirement.

"This decision has been difficult for me, my wife and our family," Coburn said. "I don't like being away from Oklahoma and my medical practice, nor do I like asking my loved ones to make sacrifices. I also don't particularly like Washington, DC."

His decision to run may dissaude some high-profile Democrats, not to mention Republicans, from running for the post. All eyes will likely remain, though, on Gov. Brad Henry (D), who's term-limited and the Democrats' best chance at defeating Coburn.

A recent PPP survey found Coburn with a 59 percent approval rating and leading Henry by 12 points.

Coburn Retiring?

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has refused to say whether or not he will seek re-election in 2010. The first-term senator, and former three-term House Member, raised just $17,000 in the first quarter of 2009 and has just $57,000 cash on hand, far behind the pace of what's necessary for a statewide run.

By comparison, Coburn spent more than $5 million in 2004 during his first Senate campaign, and fellow Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R) also spent more than $5 million for his successful 2008 campaign. While Coburn likely wouldn't face a major primary challenger and certainly has the connections to raise money quickly, the fact that he hasn't announced his decision yet has led to plenty of speculation that he's calling it quits.

Coburn, who's made it his mission in the Senate to get federal spending under control, told The Oklahoman last month that he thought it "unethical to ask people to give you money for an election you're not sure you're going to run in."

The Oklahoma City paper also reported that Coburn told the Republican state convention crowd Saturday that he was not running for governor next year, but was still unsure of a second run for Senate.

OK Sen: Inhofe +9

Republican Senator James Inhofe leads his Democratic opponent, but the two-term incumbent doesn't have an overwhelming lead, according to a new poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The survey, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, polled 600 likely voters between 8/12-14 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Inhoff and State Senator Andrew Rice were tested.

General Election Matchup
Inhofe............50 (-3 from last, 6/08)
Rice...............41 (+8)

Inhofe's job performance numbers aren't stellar, with 46% saying he's doing an excellent or good job and 47% saying he's doing fairly or poorly. But an incumbent who reaches 50% remains in strong position. Given Inhofe's electoral history, it's not surprising that the race looks close; while Inhofe has bested his previous two opponents by a wide margin, he's never attracted the support of more than 57% of Sooner voters.

Despite Inhofe's lead, Democrats are clearly interested in the seat. The DSCC's expenditure is at least the third time Benenson has polled the Inhofe-Rice matchup for national Democrats. And because the state features inexpensive television time, relative to other states with longer-shot Democratic opportunities like North Carolina and Minnesota, national Democrats could decide that at least a few expenditures are justified.

OK: Inhofe +22

Not every Republican Senator running for re-election this year is in trouble, as a new poll conducted for the Tulsa World shows Oklahoman Jim Inhofe in good position to keep his job for another six years. While Washington may not be popular these days, the Senior Sooner boasts an approval rating of 61%.

The Oklahoma Poll, conducted 7/19-23, surveyed 750 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 3.6%. Inhofe and State Senator Andrew Rice were tested among a sample made up of 53% self-identified Democrats, 42% self-identified Republicans and 5% independents.

General Election Matchup
Inhofe.........52 (-8 from last, 12/07)
Rice............30 (+11)

McCain........56
Obama........24

The Democratic sample looks high, but voter registration in Oklahoma shows just over 50% signed up as Democrats while 39% checked the Republican box. Inhofe and Rice both easily won their primaries last Tuesday.

Inhofe In Good Shape

Senator Jim Inhofe is leading his Democratic opponent by a wide margin, a new poll shows, though national Democrats remain hot on their candidate, a young up-and-comer who, even if he falls short this year, could prove to be a contender in the future. Still, Inhofe looks like a safe bet to win a third full term.

The poll, conducted for DailyKos by Research 2000, surveyed 600 likely voters between 6/9-11, for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Inhofe and State Senator Andrew Rice were tested within a sample consisting of 43% Democrats, 41% Republicans and 16% independents and others. The presidential contest was tested as well.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Inhofe......53 / 22 / 85 / 54 / 57 / 49
Rice.........31 / 62 / 5 / 15 / 30 / 32

McCain....52 / 20 / 84 / 55 / 56 / 46
Obama....38 / 70 / 7 / 33 / 36 / 44

Despite the big lead, Inhofe's personal ratings aren't stellar. Just 47% of Oklahomans have a favorable impression of him, while 45% view him unfavorably. 39% say they will definitely vote to re-elect Inhofe, the third-ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and ranking Republican on the Environment & Public Works Committee, while 28% say they would vote to replace him.

Rice, on the other hand, is barely known; 32% see him in a positive light, while 16% say they don't see him favorably. The remaining 52% of the electorate has no opinion of the Democrats' likely nominee.

Inhofe has never won massive victories in Oklahoma; he beat well-known Democrats by wide margins, taking a seventeen-point win in his first bid for a full term, in 1996, and a twenty-one point win in 2002. But in both cases, Inhofe won 57% of the vote, far below the 66% President Bush won in 2004 and slightly below the 60% he took in 2000 in the state.

Inhofe Keeps Wide Lead

The netroots like State Senator Andy Rice, but helping him beat Senator Jim Inhofe looks like a longshot. A poll conducted by SoonerPoll.com shows the incumbent leading by a wide margin, and confirms that Oklahoma remains comfortable with their elected officials.

The poll, conducted 12/16-19, surveyed 735 registered voters for a 4% margin of error. Rice, Inhofe, Senator Tom Coburn and Governor Brad Henry were tested.

General Election Matchup
Inhofe 60
Rice 19

A poll for Rice taken a week before this one showed him trailing Inhofe by 14 points, but this survey has nothing but bad news for the Democrat: 56% of the state's voters approve of Inhofe's performance as Senator, while just 24% disapprove.

The state's junior senator, Tom Coburn, is also popular, with 58% approving of the job he's doing, while only 22% disapprove. Democratic Governor Brad Henry, meanwhile, is virtually beloved: 76% say they approve of his job, while only 16% disapprove.

In(hofe) Fine Shape

If Senator Jim Inhofe finds himself in trouble, the Republican Party should probably just pack it up and head home for the remainder of 2008. But the Oklahoma Senator, seeking his third full term next year, is doing alright, according to a new poll conducted for his opponent. Still, the poll shows even voters in ruby-red Oklahoma are looking for a new direction.

The Benenson Strategy Group poll, conducted 12/8-12 for State Sen. Andrew Rice, surveyed 900 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 3%, testing both Inhofe and Rice.

General Election Matchup
Inhofe 49
Rice 35

Inhofe 46
Generic Dem 38

Just 48% of Oklahoma voters rate Inhofe's job performance as excellent or good, the poll shows, while 45% say it is fair or poor. And only 27% say the U.S. is headed in the right direction, compared with 58% who say the country is going the wrong way.

Inhofe, first elected to the Senate upon the retirement of Democratic Senator David Boren, is a top Republican on the Armed Services and Environment and Public Works Committees. He has won re-election by solid margins, with 57% in both 1996 and 2002.