Americans across the country woke up Wednesday to an undecided presidential election that could take days, or even weeks, to be decided.
The contest between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden hangs in the balance as crucial swing states continue to count votes and process absentee ballots.
But in Oklahoma, where all votes were counted and reported shortly after midnight, the results were much more clear as Republicans captured key wins across the state.
In addition to the GOP taking back a hard-fought congressional seat, the party extended its supermajorities in the state Legislature, enjoyed a symbolic victory of Trump once again winning all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties and saw the defeat of a state question opposed by many leaders in the party.
As the dust continues to settle on the election, here are four takeaways after a historic night.
Trump Dominates in Oklahoma
The question of who will carry Oklahoma, and its seven electoral votes, was hardly at stake for a state that has voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every contest since 1964.
But Democrats were hoping for a small silver lining if Biden could win Oklahoma County, which has increasingly trended blue during the past several elections.
For most of the night it looked like this would be the case after the first-reported absentee and early voting results showed Biden with 63 percent of the vote. The former vice president’s lead, however, steadily dwindled throughout the night as in-person votes were counted.
Trump finished with 49.2% of the county’s vote while Biden claimed just 48%.
In Tulsa, Trump finished even stronger. He took Oklahoma’s second most populous county with 56.5% of the vote compared to Biden’s 40.8% vote share.
Outside of the state’s two top urban centers, Trump also won by big margins.
The president captured at least 75% of the vote in 56 of the state’s 77 counties. His biggest county-level wins came from Cimarron County (966 votes for Trump compared to 70 for Biden), Beaver County (1,964 votes for Trump compared to 190 for Biden), Ellis County (1,686 votes for Trump compared to 162 for Biden) and Dewey County (2,121 votes for Trump compared to 213 to Biden). In all four counties, Trump received at least 90% of the vote.
Overall, Trump finished with a result that closely matched his 2016 showing in Oklahoma.
The 65.37% of the vote he won this year is up slightly compared to his 65.32% win in 2016.
This time, however, with turnout substantially higher through the state, he came away with more overall votes. A total of 1,018,870 Oklahomans voted for the president this year, an increase of nearly 226,500 votes, compared to 2016.
Bice Turns OK-5 Red Once Again
Outside of the presidential race, Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district was the biggest prize of the night.
Out-of-state groups spent millions on the race, which was seen as one of the most competitive in the country, as first-term Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn sought to keep the seat she won in 2018.
Horn’s victory two years ago ended a more than 40-year streak of Republican dominance in the district. But Oklahoma state Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, won Tuesday night to turn the seat red once again.
Bice, who had to win a closely contested GOP primary and runoff earlier this year to secure the nomination, ended the night with just over a 12,750-vote advantage as she won with 52.1% of the vote.
Although she didn’t signal whether she’ll run again, Horn told supporters that the fight is not over and that there is more work to do.
“When many voters in this district had lost faith that their vote counted for something, we gave them hope,” she said. “That’s a victory in itself.”
Bice, who will have to resign her state Senate seat, said she will represent all Oklahomans when she is sworn-in in a couple of months.
“Oklahoma Republicans have said they wanted to return this seat to red, and tonight they proved it,” she said after her win. “Oklahomans want a congresswoman who will stand up for our values, get our economy booming again, and work with our oil and gas industry, and that is just what I’ll do for them in Congress.”
GOP Picks Up Seats in the Legislature
The already GOP-dominated state Legislature is going to get even redder.
Republicans, who held 76 of the state’s 101 House seats going into the night, picked up five seats.
Democrats held a majority in the statehouse as recently as 2002. But, now with just 19 members in the House, they have either lost seats or failed to pick up any seats for nine consecutive elections.
In the state Senate, where half of the body’s 48 seats were up for election this year, Democrats failed to make any gains.
Republicans held a 39-to-9 majority going into Tuesday and that is what they will will have after Election Day.
In Tulsa County, Democrats earned a key victory when Jo Anna Dosett flipped an open seat being vacated by term-limited Republican Sen. Gary Stanislawski. Democrats, however, lost a seat in the Senate when first-term Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, was defeated by Republican Cody Rogers.
The GOP majority in the Senate will go down to 38-to-nine when Bice, who was in the middle of her second four-year term in the Legislature, steps down to take her new congressional role. A special election in 2021 will select her replacement.
The losses will further dampen the bargaining power and influence of Democrats in the State Capitol. Even with a few defections, Republicans will be able to override gubernatorial vetoes or reach the two-thirds threshold to pass revenue-raising bills all without any help from the minority party.
They will also be in the driver’s seat next year when the Legislature is tasked with some big decisions, including redrawing state and congressional boundaries, finding millions to pay for the Medicaid expansion voters approved earlier this year and dealing with a budget fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and a slump in oil prices.
After Tuesday’s results came in, House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said the showing proved that Oklahoma voters wanted growth, freedom and conservative government
“It was encouraging to make gains statewide, from picking up all rural seats for the first time in state history to adding representation in the Oklahoma City area,” he said.
Both State Questions Fail
Oklahoma voters also soundly rejected both of the state questions on the ballot Tuesday.
State Question 805, a citizen-led ballot initiative that would’ve amend the Oklahoma Constitution to end the use of sentence enhancements against some repeat offenders in an effort to reduce the state’s prison population, lost by more than 334,800 votes with 61.1% of voter rejecting it.
Many Republicans, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, opposed the state question.
Voters also rejected State Question 814.
The proposal, which would have given the Legislature more sway of how to spend the money that is deposited to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, only managed to secure 41.2% of the vote.
Republican lawmaker had planned on using some of the TSET money to pay for some Oklahoma’s Medicaid expansion, which will take effect July 1 of next year, but will now have to find other ways to pay for it.
Trevor Brown has been an Oklahoma Watch reporter since 2016. He covers politics, elections, health policies and government accountability issues. Call or text him at (630) 301-0589. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @tbrownokc
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