With Election Day now less than two weeks away, amid indications that the race for Governor is tightening up, a new 'dial test' is providing a better understanding of what voters like about the two major candidates, and what they don't like.
Dial-testing is a polling tool that shows reaction, in real time, to what a candidate is saying.
News 9 pollster Bill Shapard, founder of SoonerPoll.com, just dial-tested the remarks from Republican candidate Kevin Stitt and Democrat Drew Edmondson at the "From Now On" debate two weeks ago.
Read all of Bill Shapard's 'Dial Test' stories from the 2018 Oklahoma election:
Dial Test: Republicans, Independents Respond Well To Edmondson's Debate-Closing Remarks
Dial Test: Stitt's CEO-Speak Doesn't Appeal Beyond Republican Base
Dial Test: Voters React To Stitt's Call To Appoint Agency Heads
Dial Test: Edmondson Earns High Marks From Women, Independents On Education Funding
Randomly selected voters from the across the state were asked to watch a recording of the debate and, using their keyboard, indicate their level of approval or disapproval with what the candidates were saying. The result is a recording of the debate, overlaid with a color-coded, and constantly changing, line graph: a red line represents Republicans, a blue line represents Democrats, and a yellow line represents Independents.
"It gives us real insight into how these groups are affected by what the candidates are saying," said Shapard, "and how they're talking about the issues."
Shapard says the results of this test are revealing. While Kevin Stitt's talk about running the state 'like a business' goes over well at his campaign events, Stitt says his research shows that it has its limits.
"That language works very well with Republicans," Shapard noted, "but what we found in our test is it kind of falls flat with independent voters [and] falls flat with Democrat voters."
At one point in the debate, Stitt repeated a line he's used frequently at rallies:
"Day one in office, everyone is gonna know, Oklahoma is open for business," Stitt told the crowd of high school students.
Reaction from the dial-testers was decidedly mixed: as soon as those words left Stitt's mouth, the red line spiked up to near 70 percent approval, while the blue and yellow lines sunk to 45 percent.
"They're not moved by 'I'm a CEO', or 'I know how to talk to CEO's', or 'I'm gonna run this like a business'," said Shapard.
Meanwhile, Drew Edmondson has been running on a campaign of fixing the problems created by the current leaders, a message that appears to have broad appeal.
"We can see when we test him," Shapard explained, "that even Republicans like what they're hearing from Drew Edmondson."
Take this closing line from Edmondson in the debate:
"Starting in January of 2019, my slogan is gonna be, 'From now on, we're gonna properly fund education'," Edmondson stated.
Edmondson went on to list the many ways that, 'from now on', he would not repeat past mistakes and would put Oklahomans first. As he did, the Democrat line topped 80 percent approval, Independents reached 70 percent, and even Republican approval hit 60 percent.
"Drew Edmondson has very effectively, in these debates, been able to talk about what moderates or independents want to hear," said Shapard.
And Shapard says the latest polls show the race is close enough that those voters are going to matter on November 6.