I waited three days in the hopes that my fuming at Oklahoma’s counter performance to the collective heave ho that the rest of the nation gave to the Republicans would subside.
It has not.
Amending the title of Thomas Franks’ insightful book about how conservatives won the heart of Kansas … “What’s the Matter with Oklahoma?” Did we really just do this?
We’re the winner of the national championship for the highest McCain/Palin margin at 65.6 percent; the only state where Republicans gained ground in the state house, senate and statewide offices; and the only state in which McCain/Palin carried every county.
Not one of our 77 counties went democratic, not a single blue dot (see chart). Sen. Obama polled 10.8 percent in Beaver County. This was not out of 100 votes where percentages are easily distorted, but out of 2,462 votes cast.
Now you are thinking that we cannot expect much progressive thought out of a county best known for its cow-chip throwing contest (two tries if you lick your fingers after the first). But I have been to Beaver county and met good people and don’t understand how 89.2% decided Sarah Palin should be vice president of the United States.
It’s not just our friends in Beaver scouring the landscape for aerodynamic cow patties. Twenty-one counties fell below 25 percent for Obama and 39 counties, more than half of the 77, fell below 30 percent.
The top bastion of democratic performance? Cherokee county, where they used to spray for Republicans, held McCain/Palin to “only” 56.percent. The heart of our most democratic county only allowed Obama to get within 12.2 percent of a single county victory.
Howard Dean called me as I was looking at these numbers. He wanted to say, “thank you” … for what I have no earthly idea.
I unloaded about our local results, but Howard didn’t take the bait. His politically correct language has been finely honed from thousands of scathing attacks on each of his utterances. He opined that the economy is much better in Oklahoma than most states and that many other states have a sizable portion of their population that would normally be concerned about leaders who are “different” than they are. But in those states the economy and the need for change overwhelmed their normal reticence to select someone “unlike” them.
Man that guy can talk.
While I am fuming, foaming, uttering and mumbling obscenities, he sounds like he just graduated from The Obama School of Cool.
So should we do anything?
Of course we should. Not just for competitive partisan reasons, but because it’s not good for Oklahoma to run so counter.
One national media service recently said based on the polls, the future of the Republican Party lies with “old white people and hayseed states.” I don’t believe that, but much of the nation does and we don’t need to be in that category.
Another pundit said that to understand the current Republican Party one has to “understand the unique culture and politics of Appalachia.”
Are you kidding me? Hayseed states and Appalachia! Call your local chamber and ask them if they think this is somehow good for us.
From a national image it’s a disaster. From a local basis can you imagine how this emboldens Republicans in the state House, now firmly in control of the legislature. Do you think we are going to hear much about education, health care and jobs -- or are we simply going to get a double dose of Guns, God, and Gays?
Gun sales in Oklahoma skyrocketed immediately prior to the election and particularly afterwards. The vast majority of these Oklahoma voters really believe that Obama -- in addition to not being a Christian, being affiliated with terrorists and intent on doubling our taxes -- is also going to take their guns!
What was that comment during the campaign about clinging?
So what do we do?
Before we start shouting and stepping all over each other like the national Republicans, we should first calmly talk about process. How do we determine what are the highest contributing factors to this unusual trend in Oklahoma. Let’s assume that we can identify with polling and focus groups the top 20 contributing factors, and then perhaps we can identify that half of these we cannot do anything about … but a plan to address the other half may have merit.
I have lots of ideas … but I really have to cool off first.