Oklahoma, where the Republican presidential candidate four years ago won all 77 counties, continues to move toward a deeper shade of red.
Republicans showed a 3-1 net increase over Democrats in registered voters since Jan. 15, figures released Thursday by the state Election Board show. Even independents outpaced Democrats in the net increase of voters.
“It's been a focus of ours, certainly this year, on aggressively doing voter registration drives around the state,” Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell said. “It should be cause for concern for the Democrat Party in Oklahoma. They brought a lot of it upon themselves with them supporting these policies at the national level that are just frankly completely out of step with a majority of Oklahoma voters.”
Since Jan. 15, Republicans had a net increase of 67,368 voters, while Democrats had a net increase of 21,564, records show. Independents had a net increase of 25,153. Eighteen voters registered as Americans Elect, which became a recognized political party earlier this year.
Democrats still have majority
Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said he was surprised by the gain in GOP voters this year.
“We've been working very hard on that, but on the other hand it's simply reflective of the fact that the Republicans got all the statewide offices and this thing is cyclical,” he said. “When the Democrats were in control, it was the other way around. It'll take us a little while to reverse this trend.”
Democrats still have the most registered voters in the state, but have slipped to 45.6 percent of all voters. Republicans have grown to 42.4 percent of registered voters and independents have grown to 12 percent. In January, Democrats made up 47.1 percent, Republicans were 41.4 percent and independents were 11.5 percent of registered voters.
Pinnell said many of the net GOP gains likely occurred in the 2nd Congressional District in the eastern part of the state, where Republican Markwayne Mullin and Democrat Rob Wallace are involved in a hotly contested race to succeed U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, who did not seek re-election.
“The 2nd District is certainly fertile ground for us,” Pinnell said. “A lot of Democrat voters down there are very conservative. … A lot of Democrat voters are just saying enough is enough. They don't see the Democrat Party is really a home for them anymore. Because the party has gone so far left, they feel it's now time for them to reregister.”
Independents outpace party
Independents even outpaced Democrats in the number of net registered voters from Jan. 15 through Oct. 12, the deadline to register for Tuesday's general election, records show.
“You see a Democrat Party that is out of step with the majority of voters in Oklahoma,” Pinnell said. “And they're out also out of step with a large number of Democrats in Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma Republicans are aware of the growing independent voters and are gearing up efforts to woo them to their ranks, he said.