Oklahoma keeps its 'red-state' reputation
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 9:51 AM
Is Oklahoma no longer the reddest state in the nation?
State Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell argues it is, based on bonus points for an all-GOP congressional delegation and Republicans holding all statewide offices.
And on Tuesday, Oklahoma again delivered all 77 counties to the Republican presidential nominee. It even gave Mitt Romney a slightly larger share of the state's presidential vote than John McCain received four years ago.
But a couple of states were, arguably, even redder.
With all but a few provisional ballots counted, Romney had 66.8 percent of Oklahoma's presidential vote - 1.2 points more than McCain - to 33.2 percent for President Barack Obama.
On Tuesday, Romney won Utah, 73 percent to 25 percent, and carried every county. Wyoming went for Romney, 69 percent to 28 percent, but for the second time Obama carried Teton County, which includes the posh resort town of Jackson and has the highest per-capita income in the United States.
"If you judge it on the highest percentage for Romney, then Utah (and Wyoming) passed us," Pinnell said. "But Utah has a Democratic congressman, for example. If you look at elected offices, I would say we're still the reddest state in the country."
After Tuesday's election, Republican strategists nationally were saying the party has to expand its appeal beyond its mostly white, mostly male base.
"I think it is true that we need to go after the next generation of voters and Hispanic voters aggressively," Pinnell said. "I don't think there's any doubt it's a matter of simple math."
University of Oklahoma political science professor Keith Gaddie said the so-called white male strategy could continue to work almost indefinitely in Oklahoma, though.
"A majority of Oklahoma voters are white guys," Gaddie said. "The electorate in Oklahoma is 90 percent white. The Republican Party has been winning with this. It seems to be working."
Oklahoma Democrats, conversely, are regrouping after another bruising defeat. They put more into this election than they have in a while and didn't get much to show for it at the ballot box.
"Every time we think the Democrats have hit bottom, they dig a little bit deeper," Gaddie said. "But it's not entirely their fault."
Gaddie said that even in its heyday, the Oklahoma Democratic Party was not well-organized. And, as the national party became more liberal, Oklahoma Democrats were left adrift ideologically.
Now, he said, "they might as well embrace the national party because it's working everywhere else."
Michael Whalen, vice chairman of the Tulsa County Democratic Party, said he expected some lumps Tuesday but that he is working on a "10-year plan, not a two-year plan."
"There were some disappointing losses," Whalen said. "But this election was tremendously beneficial. Even the candidates who lost were proud of being part of a renaissance of the Democratic Party."
Pinnell agrees the Democrats put up more of a fight, but he doesn't seem too worried.
Not in the reddest - or nearly reddest - state in the Union.
U.S. president: Top 5 states for each candidate
(Percent of popular vote by state)
|5. W. Virginia
|3. Rhode Island
|4. New York
Note: Totals don't equal 100 percent for Romney and Obama in states in which an independent candidate received votes.
Source: Associated Press
Original Print Headline: State keeps its 'red' reputation
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves to supporters early Wednesday during his post-election rally. DAVID GOLDMAN/Associated Press