The Oklahoma party primary on Super Tuesday not only has a ballot full of Republicans but also one in which President Barack Obama is challenged.
The Oklahoma Republican primary will award 43 delegates on a proportional basis.
A RealClearPolitics.com average of polls taken during the month of February indicated former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum held a 20.5 percentage point lead over his nearest competitor, Mitt Romney whose 20.5 percent just squeaked by Newt Gingrich's 20 percent support. Ron Paul had 7.5 percent.
Observers say Oklahoma could be a competitive race up and down the ballot because it combines Santorum's strength in the Midwest with Gingrich's strength in the South, The Washington Post reported. It isn't a strong state for Romney, but he may be able squeeze through if Santorum and Gingrich split the conservative vote.
"Romney is just not aligned with the Republican primary electorate [in Oklahoma]," Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster based in Oklahoma, told CNN. "It's a conservative primary electorate and one in which they are looking for the most conservative candidate in the primary."
On the Democratic side of the primary, President Obama -- who hasn't been tested so far in the party primaries and caucuses -- faces Jim Rogers, Bob Ely, Darcy G. Richardson and Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, a strong anti-abortion group, the Tulsa Beacon reported.
"Oklahoma is the perfect state to do this," Terry told the Tulsa World. "If I get double digits here, it will be a massive embarrassment to Obama."
When he announced a couple of weeks ago, Terry said he intended to use Oklahoma as a springboard to becoming a player in East Coast swing states.
Rogers, 76, of Midwest City is a testament that non- or anti-establishment candidates can do well in Oklahoma Democratic primaries. Rogers, who the World said mainly wore a sweatshirt emblazoned with his name, won the 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary with no money and minuscule campaigning and earned 40 percent in the 2008 Senate primary against a relatively well-funded opponent.
So what does this mean?
Because convention delegates are distributed proportionately, someone other than Obama "might be able to win a delegate," University of Oklahoma political scientist Keith Gaddie told the World. But it doesn't mean someone such as Terry, who has advertising money and a following, can expect to get very far.
"When these guys set out to do this, they never have as much momentum or make as much of an impact as they expect," Gaddie said.
And issue candidates such as Terry "have always been with us," Gaddie said. The problem, however, is that Terry is targeting voters who wouldn't vote for Obama anyway.
"The problem with [Terry] is that he's trying to capture anger that's already been captured," Gaddie said.
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