BREAKING THE SILENCE -
by Steve Russell -
After a week to reflect on the race and evaluating the district, I think that there are some very important data to consider. Oklahoma’s 5th District has a growing urban core, specifically, the capitol of Oklahoma City. According to the US Census Bureau, Oklahoma City ranked No. 8 in the nation in Educated Millennial population growth, with a 20% annual increase since 2010.
This is also reflected in the electorate. According to the State Election Board statistics, Republican registration in the 5th District increased 5% from 192K in 2014 to 202K in 2018. By contrast, Democrat and Independent growth (with most Independents being converted Democrats) grew a combined 7% from 235K registered in 2014 to 252K registered in 2018—a 50K vote difference from the Republican base.
Stitt Lost OKC By A Bigger Margin -
Oklahoma County represents 90% of the voter population of the 5th District. While many have speculated about the election results, one thing is clear—Oklahoma County went Democratic by a WIDE margin of 22% or 27K votes in the Gubernatorial race and by a narrow .07% rate of only 3300 votes in the 5th District Congressional race. In the 5th District race,
I Didn't Go Negative -
If lack of my use of negative ads were a factor, consider that such ads did not benefit Governor-elect Stitt over Drew Edmondson— Edmondson outperformed Stitt in Oklahoma County by 22% or 27K votes. This is consistent with the population growth dynamics.
While Gubernatorial and Congressional races are not always relational, what is clear is that the urban core of Oklahoma County has shifted rapidly. There used to be no urban core of substantial voters. Now there is. We have been aware of this for the last four years and made great headway in the Hispanic and African-American Communities, redesigning the way we represent with demographical field staff vs. geographical. Our representation and performance among those communities was encouraging, but not enough to counter the rapid urban core growth. I continued to hold the Republican base and perform well among some Independents and Democrats, but the rapid core annual Millennial population growth of 20% since 2010 made a direct correlation to the electorate. In the last four years, Republicans added 9K registered voters while Democrats and Independents added 15K new voters, or about 60% more growth and 20% more base.
Did I Mention Millennials? -
Millennials are the future of America, and Oklahoma. The 5th District has the lowest unemployment in the state, with 3.2% as compared to 3.7% statewide and 3.9% nationally. They are attracted to Oklahoma or want to remain. My wife and I raised five of them. Time and experience will engage this important population with the values that matter as they marry and raise families. I am optimistic about the potential of our country’s future but saddened by its self-indulgence and lack of respect for one another.
Bloomberg Did It -
Tacitus said, and John F. Kennedy modified the famous quote, “Victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan.” While the loss is certainly mine to bear, anyone supposing it to be some anomaly, simple ‘negative ad’ explanation, or campaign work ethic charge should wake up to the statistics and the shifting 5th District. Our numbers were accurate right into election day, our consistent base hovering between 51% and 49% from September to November. What became unknown was how many undecided would break one way or the other. Historically, they break proportionately. This year, they broke almost entirely tribal—aided by a nearly half million dollar Bloomberg negative ad buy in the final four days.
But God Ordained It -
It is also a reminder of Proverbs 21:31, “You can prepare the horses for battle, but victory is the Lord’s.”
It has been my distinct honor to serve my country and state in the U.S. Army, the OK State Senate and in Congress. It has also been a distinct pleasure to meet and get to know so many of you.