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Why Democrats are Focusing on Oklahoma

Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 20:00:30-05

TULSA, Okla. — Democratic presidential candidates continue to converge on Oklahoma as Super Tuesday approaches. But the attention could hint at a potential change in the state, as it begins to attract attention from both sides of the aisle.

Matt Hindman is an associate political science professor at the University of Tulsa. He says a change to a bipartisan or even a swing state isn't on the horizon, but Oklahoma is still an important state to both sides.

"We're one of the few states, maybe the only state, that votes on Super Tuesday where any of three candidates could win," Hindman said. "There are a few reasons for optimism if you're a Democrat here, but I would be cautious to draw any broad conclusions."

In 2018, a huge year for congressional Democrats across the country, districts across the state flipped both ways. Seats flipped evenly in the 2018 state House and +Senate elections, with Republicans getting a slight advantage in the House, and Democrats in the Senate.

Even though the handle on the state is very much red, Republicans don't take that for granted.

Oklahoma is now becoming a target for presidential campaigns, especially in this year's primaries.

"We're going to present our vision, and talk to people whether they're Republican, Democrat, Independent, and make sure we're talking to voters, not leaving anything on the table - not ignoring the state in any regards," said Joe Calvello, Bernie Sanders' Western Press Secretary.

This year, Tulsa Democrats cite a deep field of candidates as the reason for extra attention to the state. Amanda Swope, Tulsa County Democratic Party Chair, says the battle is forcing candidates to reach areas they may not have considered before, but could become battlegrounds.

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