Oklahoma’s Not So Red History

In my time living in Oklahoma, it’s no secret that the state appeared to vote almost exclusively Republican. Though some of the city voters turned a bit more blue, it’s not surprising that the state, like it’s neighbors, tended to be a bit more conservative.

What’s interesting, though, is that it wasn’t always that way. Less than fifteen years ago, Brad Henry, a Democrat governor for Oklahoma left office in 2011. But he wasn’t just a fluke. Oklahoma has a long pattern of flipping from red to blue and then back to red.

Where things really get interesting, though, is when you look at the election records for Oklahoma’s governors during the early 1900s. Following the term of a Republican governor Frank Franz, a Democrat governor named Charles Haskell took office in 1907. Democrat governors continued to be elected to office time and time again for over 50 years until J. Howard Edmondson resigned, leaving George Nigh to succeed him in office for a total of 8 days in January of 1963.

So, did Oklahoma just start becoming more conservative? Perhaps, but it’s more likely that the parties themselves changed in certain values. For instance, during the 1990s, during Pres. Bill Clinton’s era, there was a news broadcast about the debate between Republicans fighting to try and make sure that American born children of Mexican immigrants were allowed to attend school in the United States. At the time, the Democrat stance was that immigrants weren’t paying taxes, so they were just eating resources. In contrast, the view of the Democrat and Republican on immigration in 2022 has seemly been entirely reversed.

So does that simply mean that Oklahoma has always voted conservatively? Not at all. Brad Henry, a Democrat, was the governor of Oklahoma from 2003 to 2011. It also appears that a good handful of voters that live in the larger cities like OKC and Tulsa actually are more liberal than they like to admit. In the last election, those counties with larger cities actually turned blue for a good couple hours.

In the end, conservative or liberal is a personal belief preference, but it’s interesting to see that even a hardline state that appears to only vote one way isn’t quite as reliably one-sided as we all thought. That makes it all the more clear that change is always possible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: