That sound you hear might be state Democratic Party officials scrambling to try to halt the ongoing slide toward second place among registered voters in Oklahoma. The state Election Board reported this week that as of mid-January, Oklahoma had 2,116,186 registered voters — an increase of about 6 percent from the 2,000,610 at the same time a year earlier.
But Democrats gained only 18,789 voters, a growth rate of about 2 percent. Their total now stands at 962,072. Conversely, the Republican Party added 69,406 voters, an 8 percent bump to 897,663. Independents showed the greatest rate of growth — 11 percent, from 229,070 to today’s 256,450.
Just 20 years ago, the Democratic Party laid claim to nearly two-thirds of all registered voters in Oklahoma. Now only 45.5 percent of registered voters call themselves Democrats — a remarkable plunge in the span of just one generation. Meantime, the GOP has seen its percentage of registered voters increase from 33 percent in 1993 to 42.4 percent today. Independents make up 12 percent of Oklahoma’s registered voters; 20 years ago, that figure stood at 3 percent.
The GOP controls both branches of the Legislature and the governor’s office. Our congressional delegation is all-Republican. Every statewide office is held by a Republican. With Barack Obama in the White House, the move away from the Democratic Party in Oklahoma is sure to continue.