The latest political poll delivered a stunner: Jena Nelson, the Democratic nominee for state superintendent of schools, leads by five points over Ryan Walters, the Republican nominee.
With just under two months to go until Election Day, here are some of the key findings from the poll, which was conducted Sept. 2-7 by SoonerPoll.com for News9 and Newson6 in Tulsa:
• Likely voters were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today. 48.1% said Nelson, 43.1% said Walters, and 8.8% were undecided;
• Nelson has a considerable lead in support among younger voters (under 54), who are more likely to have children in school;
• Walters leads among older voters (55-64 and over 65);
• Nelson has the support of more than 19% of Republicans, plus more than 90% of Democrats.
Walters has a significant fundraising advantage for the campaign. He said he raised more than $450,000 in the primary, compared to Nelson’s $75,000 (Walters, however, spent nearly $390,000 during that time, according to his campaign finance reports.) The candidates will not have to submit their next reports before the end of October. .
Walters also has more name recognition. He is endorsed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, who nominated him for secretary of education in 2020. As one of Oklahoma’s most polarizing political figures, Walters regularly criticizes state officials. school and state superintendent Joy Hofmeister on issues such as critical race theory, school policies on transgender restroom use, and explicit materials in school libraries.
He is often seen on Twitter, posting videos of himself from inside his car. But Walters hasn’t posted to his state Twitter account since August 31, when he demanded that a Norman English teacher be stripped of her teaching credentials after posting a QR code in her class, referring to the collection of banned books at the Brooklyn Public Library.
Nelson, on the other hand, has made much less headlines since announcing his run in March. She teaches full-time at a college in Oklahoma City until this week when she announced she would be taking time off to focus on her campaign, according to a FOX25 report.
Both Walters and Nelson are certified teachers; Walters was a finalist for Teacher of the Year in 2016 and Nelson won Teacher of the Year in 2020.
Oklahoma Watch, at oklahomawatch.org, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that covers public policy issues facing the state.