GOP Rides to Victory in 2016 Election
By: Constitution Staff
The 2016 General Election was a resounding success for the Republican Party in Oklahoma. The GOP nominees for President, U.S. Senate, the five U.S. House districts all won. And, Republicans not only maintained control of both houses of the state legislature, but actually increased their numbers in both chambers. While national voter turnout increased 1.7% over 2012, Oklahoma turnout increased by 8.8%, the third highest of any non-swing state and the fifth highest in the nation.
In the Presidential Election Donald Trump received 949,136 (65.32%) votes; Hillary Clinton received 420,375 (28.93%) votes; and Gary Johnson received 83,481 (5.75%) votes. Donald Trump carried all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, the fourth consecutive time the Republican nominee has done so. Oklahoma was one of only two states where Donald Trump carried every county in the state (West Virginia was the other), and is the only state to accomplish this feat in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections. Alaska did this as well. However, the entire state is considered a single county since it not divided into counties. Despite the return of the Libertarian Party to the Oklahoma ballot, Trump actually won more votes in 72 of 77 counties than Mitt Romney in 2012. Hillary Clinton performed worse (by percentage) in 76 of 77 counties when compared to Obama in 2012.
One of Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senate seats was up for election in 2016. U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe was re-elected two years ago and has four more years before his term expires. Senator James Lankford won a special election in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of Senator Tom Coburn who decided to leave the Congress two years early. Because Coburn’s seat was not up until 2016, the Special Election for the post was for a “short term” of just two years. The election in 2016 was for a full six-year term and Sen. Lankford won more votes than any candidate ever in Oklahoma. He defeated Democrat nominee Mike Workman by 43 percentage points, one of the most lopsided results in the nation. Senator Lankford received 980,892 (67.74%) votes, while Workman received 355,911 (24.58%) votes. Robert T. Murphy, the Libertarian candidate, received 43,421 (3.00%) votes. Two Independent candidates were also on the ballot. Sean Braddy received 40,405 (2.79%) votes, and Mark T. Beard received 27,418 (1.89%) votes.
Oklahoma returned all five Republican members of Congress in convincing fashion. There was no election on the November ballot in the first district since incumbent Congressman Jim Bridenstine won renomination in the primary, and the Democrats and Libertarians did not field a candidate. And no independents filed for the seat.
Second district Congressman Markwayne Mullin received 189,839 (70.61%) votes. Democrat candidate Joshua Harris-Till received 62,387 (23.20%) votes; and Independent candidate John McCarthy received 16,644 (6.19%) votes.
Third district Congressman Frank Lucas received 227,525 (78.29%) votes, defeating his only opponent, Democrat Frankie Robbins who received 63,090 (21.71%) votes. Robbins was also the Democrat nominee against Lucus for the seat in 2008, 2010, and 2014. He also ran in 2012, but lost in the primary election.
Fourth district Congressman Tom Cole received 204,143 (69.93%) votes. Democrat nominee Christina Owen received 76,472 (26.08%) votes. Sevier White, the Libertarian candidate, received 12,574 (4.29%) votes.
Fifth district Congressman Steve Russell received 160,184 (57.09%) votes. Al McAffrey, the Democrat candidate that Russell also defeated in 2014, received 103,273 (36.81%) votes. Libertarian Zachary Knight received 17,113 (6.10%) votes.
A large number of state legislators were not able to run for reelection in 2016 due to term-limits. Legislators are limited to a total combined service in the House and/or Senate of 12 years. Voters overwhelmingly adopted a state question in 1990 that placed term-limits on lawmakers. It took effect in 1992, but did not affect previous years of service.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives has 101 members and the Oklahoma Senate has 48 members. In 2016 there were 31 legislators who could not run for reelection because of term-limits. Nineteen members of the Oklahoma House, nine Democrats and ten Republicans, were ineligible to run again. Twelve senators, four Democrats and eight Republicans, could not run for re-election. Neither House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview), nor Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) were able to run again as a result of term-limits.
In addition to those who could not run again, ten members of the House chose not run for reelection. Two senators also chose not to run. Some of those who did not run for reelection ran for another office. Rep. James Leewright (R-Bristow) ran for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bingman and won the seat in the June 28 Republican primary.
All 101 House seats are up for election each two-year election cycle. There were 71 incumbents who filed for reelection in the House – 52 Republicans and 19 Democrats. Because they drew no opponents, or their opponents withdrew after filing, 18 members of the House were elected at or soon after filing. That number included 12 Republicans and six Democrats. Six Republicans and three Democrats were elected in the Primary Elections since they had no opposition in the General Election. On August 25, Randy McDaniel (R-Edmond) secured another term when his Democrat opponent withdrew from the race.
Republicans went into the election year with a 71-30 majority in the Oklahoma House. Republicans had a net gain of four seats coming out of the November election, increasing their super-majority to 75-26, the largest Republican majority in state history. There will be 32 new members, 25 of whom are Republicans.
Senators serve four-year terms, with half of the 48 seats up for election each election cycle. The even numbered districts will not be on the ballot until 2018. The exception was Senate District 12 held by Sen. Bingman who could not serve the remaining two years of his four-year term because of the 12-year legislative term-limits. Bingman was first elected to his Senate seat in 2006 after serving two years in the House of Representatives. The special election to fill the remaining two years of Bingman’s term coincided with this year’s regularly scheduled elections. As already mentioned, Rep. Leewright was elected to that seat. With Leewright’s election, Republicans hold 19 of the even numbered seats, and the Democrats hold the other five.
The twenty-four odd numbered districts were up for election in 2016. Twenty of those were held by Republicans, and only four by Democrats. There were 13 incumbent senators running for reelection, including 12 Republicans and just one Democrat. Democrats did not have a candidate in five districts. Three GOP incumbents won reelection in the Primary, and one seat held by a Democrat incumbent remained in the Democrat column.
Going into the election year, Republicans held a 39-9 majority in the Oklahoma Senate. Coming out of the 2016 election, the Oklahoma Republican Party had a 42-6 super majority with a net gain of three seats. This is the largest majority held by either party since 1965.
Some wonder if there is a future for the Democratic Party in Oklahoma considering their losses from President, to Congress, and in the Legislature. The only bright spot for Democrats is that they managed to flip a few legislative seats from Republican to Democrat in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas. But, those few gains were outweighed by their loss of more seats in the remainder of the state.
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