Senate 2008: Oklahoma May Be on the Map
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 09:00:12 AM EDT
Color me surprised. I have had my eye on the Oklahoma Senate race for a while but haven't written too much about it given that although I believe GOP incumbent Jim Inhofe to be vulnerable and his Democratic challenger Andrew Rice to be credible, Oklahoma is an incredibly red state and the last time it held a Senate election concurrent to a Presidential election, back in 2004, a very able Democratic candidate (Congressman Brad Carson) lost to an underwhelming GOP candidate (now-Senator Tom Coburn). But maybe this contest isn't as out of reach as I had once thought.
Oklahoma Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Rice has narrowed Republican Senator Jim Inhofe's lead from twenty points two months ago to nine points today, according to a new poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Rice campaign. Inhofe now leads Rice only 50% to 41%, down from a 53% to 33% lead in June. Only 46% of Oklahomans say Inhofe is doing an excellent or good job, with 47% saying he is doing only a fair or poor job.
The poll of 600 likely voters was taken August 12 to 14 by the Benenson Strategy Group and has a 4% margin of error.
This is going to be a tough race for Rice to win, no doubt. As alluded to above, back in 2004 the trend for Carson looked great with the Democrat leading by a 44 percent to 39 percent margin in late September, and it appeared as though the Democrats had a legitimate shot at picking up Oklahoma's other Senate seat. In the end, however, Coburn pulled out a relatively comfortable 53 percent to 41 percent victory over Carson.
That all said, that Rice, who coming into the race was much less of a proven commodity in Oklahoma than Carson, is already pulling in the same amount of support in mid-August that Carson was able to garner in November 2004 is a good sign. What's more, with the Republicans on the defensive around the country, and environmental groups particularly aiming at Inhofe (in a way not too dissimilar to the efforts waged against the similarly anti-environment Richard Pombo in 2006), this could the type of race that flies under the radar only to come together as a real contest in the end. For now, chalk it up as yet another contest we need to be keeping our eye one.
Below the fold... an ad from the Rice campaign.