OKLAHOMA Democrats at campaign watch parties had something to celebrate when Ohio went into President Obama's electoral column, effectively ending the suspense on election night. Then those Democrats returned home knowing that they'll continue ceding power to Republicans here.
Meantime, Republicans gathered for watch parties had much to celebrate Tuesday yet had to return home knowing that the biggest prize had eluded them. Obama will be in situ at the White House for another four years.
Partisans in both camps left the watch parties with mixed feelings, but Republicans had more to celebrate. What's been called the reddest of the red states turned from bright red to glow-in-the-dark red:
• For the first time in history, the Legislature, every statewide office and the entire congressional delegation is in the Republican camp. The state has had two of the three distinctions before but not all of them at once.
• Party registration continues a historic slide from Democratic dominance to a Republican majority. Within the next two years, the registration advantage may flip from blue to red.
• For the third straight presidential election, every single county in Oklahoma supported the Republican nominee. Obama got only 33 percent of the vote in Oklahoma, down by more than a percentage point from his abysmal 2008 showing. In both elections, Democrats had a party registration advantage; in both elections, many registered Democrats joined Republicans in rejecting Obama.
• Republican dominance of the Legislature, already pronounced, grew even stronger with Tuesday's results. The only consolation prize for Democrats is that intraparty squabbles among Republicans offer an opportunity for coalition building.
• Hope for Democrats in two years to regain some statewide offices and increase membership in the Legislature was potentially quashed by Obama's victory. Democratic candidates in 2014 can still be tied to Obama by Republican candidates bent on nationalizing the election. It worked in 2010.
Some will claim that all of the above matters little because Obama won another term. But these trends do matter: For at least the next two years, all state policy will be guided by Republicans. Obama can't count on a single member of our congressional delegation.
Democratic leaders were reduced to searching for pyrrhic victories — winning a single county for Obama or picking up seats in the Legislature. Didn't happen. The bluest of blue counties still chose Mitt Romney, and a Little Dixie state Senate seat — ever a lock for Democrats — was won by a Republican.
In the 1930s, not a single Republican was in the state Senate. Now Republicans have a 3-1 edge. Not since 1964 has the Democratic presidential nominee won Oklahoma's electoral votes. Never has a political party fallen out of favor more dramatically. And yet Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, who has remained a Democrat through it all, won a fifth term in a landslide victory over a challenger whose main platform was that he is a Republican.
Partisans and pundits insist that U.S. House Republicans should compromise more with the man who won the presidency Tuesday simply because he won. Perhaps the same insistence should be aimed at state Democrats, who too often echo the class warfare sentiments of Obama. If Republicans need to be more amenable to Obama's ideas because he won, then state Democrats need to be more amenable to the Republican agenda because voters keep endorsing GOP candidates in growing numbers.
The voting is done. The watch parties are over. The thing to watch for now is whether Democrats can get any traction in the election two years hence.