In a state where voter turnout is low, especially in midterm season, Oklahoma saw mostly typical results, with subtle evidence of change.
With over 34,000 fewer Oklahomans voting this time than in 2018, it is evident that voter apathy is still a huge concern: 1,143,744 registered Oklahomans decided not to vote at all. With distinct divides between rural and urban party support, the outcomes resembled a roller coaster ride throughout the evening. Previous polling turned out to be inaccurate, largely because of voter misrepresentations in rural areas and oversampling of college-educated respondents.
Many of the same faces returned to lead our state, with incumbent Gov. Stitt winning 55.5% to Joy Hofmeister’s 41.8%. James Lankford will retain his spot in D.C. after holding off Madison Horn 64.3% to 32.1% and will be joined by Markwayne Mullin, a member of the Cherokee Nation, who will serve the rest of retiring Senator Jim Inhofe’s term finishing in 2026. Mullin will be the first Native American in Senate in nearly twenty years, and will contribute to a historic number of six Native American lawmakers for the upcoming session.
The US Representative seats for Oklahoma remained Republican, with Rep. Stephanie Bice defeating Joshua Harris-Till in the narrowest margin of the five races (59-37). Representatives Frank Lucas, Tom Cole, and Kevin Hern all maintained their seats, and Josh Breechen gained the open seat for District 2 vacated by Mullin.
In the state house, JJ Dossett of HD34 lost his seat to Dana Prieto, flipping it from blue to red. Senators Carrie Hicks and Julia Kirt kept their seats blue. In the state house, Annie Menz took HD45 to become the first Latina woman in the House. House Districts 70 & 71 were taken by two freshmen Democrats, Suzzane Schreiber and Amanda Swope, with HD70 flipping red to blue. In Northwest OKC, Ellyn Hefner (D, HD 87) held Collin Walke’s former seat, defeating Gloria Banister 60-40. Rep. Mauree Turner held their position in HD 88 by the highest winning margin of any democrat, and one of the highest winning margins in the whole election (80-20).
State offices remained deep red, with the Lieutenant Governor’s mantle remaining with Matt Pinnell, the State Superintendent falling to Ryan Walters, and the state treasurer, labor commissioner, and corporation commissioner all respectively Republican elects. However, one spot defied the trend with Vicki Behenna (Democrat) defeating Kevin Calvey to become the new District Attorney for Oklahoma County, mirroring a cross-country trend towards reform-minded prosecutors and DAs.
While many of the names stayed the same, minor changes are occurring.
In the state and across the nation we had many historic firsts, ranging from newly elected Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ leaders. To mention a few, Munira Abdullahi and Ismail Mohamed are two Somali Muslims taking their first seats for Muslims and Somalis in the Ohio state legislature. Nabeela Syed beat out the Republican incumbent in Illinois to become one of the first Muslims and youngest members (23) in the Illinois General Assembly. In Georgia, Ruwa Romman, a Palestinian Muslim becomes the first Muslim woman in the State House of Representatives and the first Palestinian in any public office in the state. Our neighbors in Texas elected their first two Muslim state legislators, Suleman Lalani and Salman Bhojani who also flipped his seat from Republican control. Muslims in the federal level up for re-election all kept their seats (Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Andre Carson) in addition to Keith Ellison, who will remain Attorney General of Minnesota.
What does all this mean?
Reading results can be a lot, and Oklahoma is only one state out of 50, 5 territories, and hundreds of Native American nations. Our notoriously low voter turnout means that just under half the voting population makes decisions for the entire state and how it is to be represented on a national and international level. We consistently rank at the bottom in issues of education, healthcare, and criminal justice. Few people have used their voice to shape our future, so one can hope that our newly elected leaders will steer this state in the right direction.
Midterm elections are extremely understated and underemphasized on local, state, and federal levels. Across the United States, people chose to make their voices heard, and many saw new faces representing our diverse nation. To avoid writing a novel, we will wait until next week when more results are in, as many races are still neck in neck, to provide you with the rest of the results and what that means for all of us.