Democrats are optimistic President Barack Obama won't be shut out again in Oklahoma this year.
“On election night, we will not be the reddest state in the union,” said Ben Odom, longtime Democratic Party strategist and a former state Democratic Party official. “We might be in the top three to top five, but I don't think we're going to be the biggest state for Mitt Romney.”
Odom said he expected Republican presidential nominee Romney to post bigger wins in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska and possibly Alabama.
The Democratic president failed to win any of the state's 77 counties in 2008, proclaiming state GOP leaders to call Oklahoma the reddest state in the nation. Republican presidential nominee John McCain of Arizona got his biggest victory margin in Oklahoma four years ago, winning 65.6 percent of the vote.
If the president fails to win a single county in this week's election, it would be the third straight presidential election in which the Republican presidential candidate swept the state. In 2004, President George W. Bush also got 65.6 percent of the vote in Oklahoma and also won every county in his race against Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
The last Democratic president to win Oklahoma was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
“To me it's amazing that the Democratic goals here are to win one county and not be the reddest state in the nation,” said Pat McFerron, director of survey research for Cole, Hargrave, Snodgrass and Associates. “‘Thank God for Utah' might be their slogan.”
Obama could win an eastern Oklahoma County if there's a small voter turnout, but McFerrin said he doesn't see that happening.
“Okfuskee County might be someplace you'd look, but other than that I don't think there's going to be much,” he said.
Neva Hill, a political consultant who has mostly Republican clients, said the president may again be swept in Oklahoma.
“I still think it may be a sweep, just based on past history and the fact that they've had to vote for the president once and this is a re-election,” she said. “His popularity has never gained any traction here.
“When you look at just the general attitude of the Oklahoma voters, they're very conservative and on the issues that they're really going to make a judgment call on he's not on the side that they identify,” Hill said.
“Four years ago, Barack Obama had the intensity and a very energized Democratic base and a lot of grassroots activity even here in Oklahoma,” she said. “And I certainly haven't seen that this year.”
Sheryl Lovelady, a former Democratic Party strategist, said it's a “long shot” that Obama wins an Oklahoma county.
But she predicted the president will win re-election, the only one to pick an Obama win of the four political consultants taking part in a “Political Junkies” discussion last week in Oklahoma City, sponsored by the University of Oklahoma Political Communications Center.
Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said the president “has the possibility” of winning a county or two in the state.
Matt Pinnell, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said many are expecting all of Oklahoma's counties to go red this year in the presidential race.
“Because we won all 77 counties four years ago, people are expecting us to win all 77 again — that's a pretty high bar,” he said. “I think we can. We want to make sure that as many conservative voters go to the polls as possible and we feel very confident … that we'll have a very good chance of winning all 77 counties again.”
Odom said the president, even if he carries a county or two, still will end up with dismal numbers in Oklahoma.
“Do you know anybody that voted for John McCain four years ago that's going to vote for Barack Obama this time? I don't,” Odom said. “Do you know anybody that voted for Obama last time thinking about voting for Romney this time? I do.”