Widespread support from rural voters and a decisive margin in metropolitan Tulsa propelled incumbent Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt to victory over Democrat Joy Hofmeister in Tuesday’s general election.
Stitt received 63.2% of votes in counties outside of the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan statistical areas, according to state election board unofficial results. Hofmeister won the state’s three most populous counties — Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland County — and failed to receive a majority elsewhere.
Libertarian Natalie Bruno and independent Ervin Yen received a combined 2.75% of the state’s gubernatorial vote.
With Stitt facing millions in dark money advertisements, as well as criticism over his relationship with tribal nations and support for school voucher programs, several polls showed a tight race heading into election night. The governor ultimately won by a slightly wider margin than in his first run for office.
Tuesday’s election was a continuation of Republican dominance in rural areas, where the party has made significant voter registration gains and gained control of dozens of state House and Senate seats over the past decade. The last Democratic nominee to win more than 40% of the rural vote was Jari Askins in 2010.
Statewide, 50.18% of registered voters cast a ballot in the governor’s race, a more than 5% decrease compared to the 2018 contest. Turnout was generally higher in the northwest part of the state and lower in eastern and southern counties.
A few minor issues were reported Tuesday at polling places, including a malfunctioning voting machine in Rogers County and complaints in Cleveland and Oklahoma Counties that poll workers were encouraging straight-party voting. The matters were resolved and results from all precincts were posted online just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday.
Keaton Ross is a Report for America corps member who covers democracy for Oklahoma Watch. Contact him at (405) 831-9753 or Kross@Oklahomawatch.org. Follow him on Twitter at @_KeatonRoss.