November 4, 2008
Operating in Hostile Territory: Democrats in Oklahoma
Being in Tulsa, Oklahoma means being in Republican-territory. Which made the trip to the Democratic Headquarters of Tulsa all the more interesting, as we explored the strategies employed by them in convincing citizens to go Blue.
Strangely enough, Oklahoma – officially becoming a city in 1907 – was originally a populist state, without political leanings on either end. It then became a straight Democrat state, although these were still conservative. It was only in the late 1960’s that the socially conservative message was claimed by the Republicans. Some rather strange features of Oklahoma are that it has more registered Democrats than Republicans, Democrats tend to vote Republicans for the top ticket but Democratic in the lower tickets. The biggest battle to watch here is whether the Democrats can regain control of the State Senate. Being one of the most conservative States in America, this will be a fair indication of the country’s political leanings.
Jed Green, Oklahoma State Director of the Democratic Party, spoke to us in what I considered one of the most impassioned mini-speeches I had heard on the trip. The Democrats have had a fair share to deal with in Oklahoma, with yardsigns being burned, torn up, the words “Anti-Christ” painted on them. He spoke with deep conviction about how some consider themselves to be part of a moral majority, many Republicans genuinely believing (without necessarily stating it) they are part of a holy war. An extremely down to earth guy on the street, he had well-developed views, asking questions of us and perceptions of the Middle East towards the States.
Operating in hostile territory, they had to adopt a strategy of visibility. The more signs the better. The “Pick The Winner” effect: the escalation of Obama supporters based on their belief that others are also voting him in.
The last time Oklahoma voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate was in 1964. It is highly doubtful they’ll do so this time, but analysing its popular vote after tomorrow will be interesting. Republicans don’t even have an office in the entire Oklahoma State, which shows how confident they are of winning.
I’ll be stationed first at the Republican Party Watch, and then proceeding to the Democratic Watch during Election Night! Watch out for a Radio interview I’m doing in KL, probably around the time the results are out. Wednesday morning Malaysian Time, at 89.9FM.
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