Lankford Surging in Oklahoma Senate Race

The Oklahoma special Senate election to replace resigning Sen. Tom Coburn (R) has witnessed topsy-turvy polling. When the candidates announced in January, Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) enjoyed major leads over former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. In April, Shannon then gained momentum and overtook Lankford, capturing the lead 42-32 percent according to a Public Opinion Strategies survey (April 21-22; 500 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters). Now in May, the third consecutive poll projects that Rep. Lankford has re-assumed the advantage.

According to a new American Viewpoint poll, conducted for the Foundation for Economic Prosperity (May 27-29; 500 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters), Lankford now has re-established a commanding lead, 48-26 percent, over Shannon. Earlier in May, the Tarrance Group (May 12-14; 501 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters) gave the congressman a slight 43-40 percent edge. The Sooner Poll (May 5-10; 580 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters) found a similar 34-32 percent Lankford edge.

Geographically, the data shows Lankford performing well in the central and western part of the state, while Shannon gains major support in Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma.

While such wide swings in polling over a sustained period suggests that this race is far from over, the momentum has now returned to the Oklahoma City congressman. The Oklahoma primary is June 24. If no candidate – and there are a total of seven candidates on the Republican senatorial ballot – receives an absolute majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to an Aug. 26 run-off election. Therefore, it is quite possible that the Lankford-Shannon contest could continue for some time.

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