James Lankford now has a lead over T.W. Shannon in a heated race to replace Sen. Tom Coburn, according to a News On 6/News 9 poll.
The poll, taken June 19-21, shows Lankford with 43.4 percent and Shannon with 34.9 percent, with 13.3 percent of likely Republican voters still undecided.
The latest poll indicates Lankford has gained an eight-point lead over Shannon since a May 5-10 News On 6/News 9 poll showed the two front-runners nearly tied.
The newest poll was conducted Thursday-Thursday, shortly after our live debate hosted here at News on 6.
On Sunday, we spoke with Bill Shapard, whose polling company gathered these numbers. He talked about what this could mean for the closely watched race.
Is Shapard surprised what the poll is showing?
"Yes, I'm surprised," Shapard said. "Lankford is from OKC. There has not been an OKC resident who has won the U.S. Senate since 1960 when Mike Muroney did it."
Shapard pointed out the poll shows a lot of movement in the second third and fourth districts -- dominant districts in Oklahoma.
"Typically, I think Tulsans and rest of rural Oklahomans look at OKC as seat of power, so there's a bit of prejudice towards OKC," he said.
Some of the people we've spoken with are splitting the vote in their households, with one spouse for Lankford and another for Shannon, and they seem to be OK with either candidate.
"Neither [candidate] had much time to differentiate from one another, so Republican voters are looking at two candidates who, even from debates, had tough time differentiating themselves from one another," Shapard said.
But one thing Shapard says he is seeing is that Republican voters prefer a seamless transition from retiring U.S. Senate heavyweight Tom Coburn.
"Maybe you could see some confusion in who to support, but depending on who you are, evangelical or not, you're picking the candidate that you like the most and think litmus test is who is going to vote like Tom Coburn," he said.
Five other candidates received support in the poll, including Randy Brogdon (4.2 percent), Jason Weger (1.5 percent), Kevin Crow (1.4 percent), Eric McCray (0.9 percent) and Andy Craig (0.4 percent).
A candidate needs to get more than 50 percent of the votes cast in the June 24 primary to avoid a runoff. The winner of the Republican primary will meet a Democrat and Independent challenger in the Nov. 4 general election.
There are three Democrats running to replace Sen. Coburn. Our latest poll shows Connie Johnson slightly ahead with 13.2 percent. Patrick Michael Hayes had 6.4 percent and Jim Rodgers had 5.4 percent. However, the largest number is the amount of undecided voters. The poll indicates three out of four likely Democrat voters, or 75.1 percent, are still undecided.
About the Poll:
SoonerPoll conducted the surveys between June 19 and June 21. Respondents were selected at random using landlines and cell phones. Results were weighted by gender, age, cell phone/landline collection and Congressional district, then stratified using a model of previous primary elections. The Republican poll has a sample of 840 likely voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.38 percentage points. The Democrat poll has a sample size of 781 likely voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.