The Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas have steadily grown over the past two decades, shifting some political influence from rural to urban communities.
But voters outside the state’s two metropolitan statistical areas remain a powerful voting block that will play a key role in the Nov. 8 gubernatorial election. Rural voters have sided with the gubernatorial winner in at least the past five election cycles, an Oklahoma Watch review of voting data found.
Voter registration numbers released by the Oklahoma State Election Board on Nov. 1 show areas outside Oklahoma City and Tulsa have gained 48,024 voters since 2018. Meanwhile, the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metropolitan areas added a combined 127,039 voters over the four-year period.
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Approximately 61% of the state’s registered voters reside in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas, while 39% live in other parts of the state.
The Republican party has made significant inroads in rural areas over the past several years, gaining a voter registration advantage over Democrats and flipping dozens of state House and Senate seats. The last Democratic gubernatorial candidate to receive more than 40% of the rural vote was Jari Askins in 2010.
Polling indicates this year’s race could be tighter than usual in rural, Republican-leaning counties. An Amber Integrated poll released on Oct. 17 showed Republican Kevin Stitt with just a seven-point advantage over Democrat Joy Hofmeister in areas outside of Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
Here’s a county-level look at how Oklahoma governor’s races since 2010 have played out. This story will be updated with unofficial 2022 election results.