The GOP’s dominance covers all communities and neighborhoods, whether urban, rural or suburban. 

click to enlarge ReddestBlueest.jpg

Democrats perform well in urban areas while the Republican base is in rural communities. That’s the general principle that seems to play out when you look at most national election maps.

But here, one of the nation’s most Republican states, the GOP’s dominance covers all communities and neighborhoods, whether urban, rural or suburban.

In statewide races, Democrats performed the best in Oklahoma City, but still not good enough to sway any elections.

Democrat Joe Dorman, who lost his bid for governor with just 41 percent of the statewide vote, captured 46 percent in Oklahoma County. Cathy Cummings, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, grabbed 31 percent of the statewide vote. In Oklahoma County, she did better with 39 percent.

In races for superintendent of public instruction and U.S. Senate, the Democratic candidate had some of the party’s best returns in Oklahoma County, but still not nearly enough to be able to call the state’s largest city a liberal bastion.

“It’s comforting to us because over the long run, I think people are going to continue to see that conservatism makes a positive difference and that a liberal approach to governance is a losing matter,” state GOP chairman Dave Weston said about his party’s success in OKC. “You don’t have to look any further than Detroit to see that.”

The Republican’s dominance in this city is no surprise considering the city’s reputation as one of the most conservative cities in America. Pew Research Center ranked OKC No. 2 on its list of the most conservative cities this year, behind only Mesa, Arizona. In fact, OKC was just one of 11 of the 50 largest cities that lean conservative.

click to enlarge Raymond York cheers during a Republican watch party at Tower Hotel Oklahoma City last week. (Garett Fisbeck)
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Raymond York cheers during a Republican watch party at Tower Hotel Oklahoma City last week.

However, Democrats hope that changing demographics here will benefit the party in the near future.

“Oklahoma City could see a tremendous growth in its population density over the next three or four decades, and with that increase in density, I think you are going to see a lot more millennials,” said Jason Dunnington, Representative-elect for House District 88, one of the state’s most Democratic districts, located in central OKC.

“I think we are going to see more of this shift to our urban areas becoming more Democratic and more progressive, that just being when you look at the younger demographic and where they fall on a political spectrum.”

In addition to a growing population of young residents, Democrats have hope that OKC’s growing Hispanic community will help put several seats in play.

However, this summer in a Democratic primary, Mary Sosa, a Hispanic candidate for House District 89 in south OKC, which is home to the city’s largest population of Latino residents, lost to fellow Democratic candidate Shane Stone. Last week, Michael Brooks-Jimenez, another south-side Hispanic candidate, lost to Republican Ralph Shorty by 10 points in Senate District 44.

“We are trying to get more representation,” Carlos Ortiz, editor of the weekly Spanish-language newspaper, El Nacional, told Oklahoma Watch last month. “People have to vote. The community must participate.”

The state’s Hispanic population more than doubled since 2000, from 4.3 percent to 9.7 percent, according to U.S. Census data. However, Hispanics make up 4.5 percent of eligible voters here, which is far fewer than the 27.4 percent in Texas.

“The political atmosphere over the next two years on both the state and federal level will definitely be frustrating and ugly for progressives,” wrote Kurt Hochenauer, a liberal blogger in Oklahoma and English professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. “It’s also possible the Oklahoma electorate will grow tired of the conservative extremism in state government by [the next election], but frankly, a significant shift might be ten or more years away, and even that is uncertain to me.”

Cassie Peters, a partner at Skyfire Media political consulting firm, which managed several Democratic campaigns this year, also believes the climate is too tough right now for Democrats.

“This cycle, I saw some of the best legislative campaigns run in Oklahoma since I have been doing this, and I’m not just talking about the campaigns that my team was a part of. But as a whole, we Dems stepped up our game with field, fundraising and media this cycle,” Peters said. “Regardless, I think most of our races were decided ...  before we even had candidates running in those districts.”

click to enlarge Raymond York cheers during a Republican watch party at Tower Hotel Oklahoma City last week. (Garett Fisbeck)
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Raymond York cheers during a Republican watch party at Tower Hotel Oklahoma City last week.

Print headline: Not yet, State Democrats have been unable to fully tap into OKC’s changing demographics in order to sway Election Day voters.

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