Oklahoma presents a unique political landscape for independent candidates who are considering running for office in 2024. With a significant independent voter base and a diverse range of political and social issues at stake, Oklahoma offers fertile ground for new independent political voices.
Oklahoma's voting history includes long periods of Democratic dominance. That ended in 1948, the year that began a Republican tilt that continues to this day. The lone anomaly occurred during the 1964 landslide for Lyndon Johnson, when Oklahomans joined the rest of the country to re-elect the Democratic presidential incumbent.
After that election, the population in Oklahoma remained consistently conservative and right-leaning, which is demonstrated by the shift away from their Democratic voting history around the time the Southern Strategy was being developed.
Despite its very partisan history, Oklahoma is a semi-closed primary state. That means that it’s up to the recognized parties whether unaffiliated or independent voters can vote in their primaries.
For the 2024 election, the Democratic Party of Oklahoma, which is represented by 29.5% of registered voters, has agreed to allow open voting in their primaries. The Republican Party will keep their primaries closed this election cycle. Republicans account for 51% of registered voters in Oklahoma.
Because the Libertarian Party, which accounts for less than 1% of voters registered in Oklahoma, didn’t state a preference by the deadline, their primaries are closed by default.
In Oklahoma, parties must inform the Secretary of State between November 1 and November 30 of odd-numbered years whether they will open their primaries to independent voters. Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian are the only recognized parties on the ballot for Oklahoma in the 2024 elections.
However, such policies don’t necessarily reflect the will of a sizable portion of voters in the Sooner State. As of January 2023, Oklahoma had over 2.2 million registered voters, with independents accounting for nearly 17.7% of the electorate.
This substantial portion of voters represents a diverse group of constituents who are potentially open to voting for independent candidates. That’s just one good reason to run as an independent in Oklahoma.
Read on to learn 10 more:
As part of its mission to support independent voters and candidates, the team at Good Party hopes to inspire potential candidates considering a run during the 2024 election cycle. The potential for launching successful independent political campaigns in Oklahoma this year is an exciting prospect for the following reasons, among others:
Oklahoma has a long history of voting Republican in presidential elections, with Donald Trump winning the state by a large margin in 2020. However, independents in Oklahoma are growing as a percentage of overall voters due to dissatisfaction with establishment politics. This political climate offers independents an opportunity to appeal to voters who are seeking alternatives to the traditional two-party system.
The state is at a critical juncture to address health challenges, including the need for improved mental health and substance use treatment services. This is an issue that an independent candidate focused on practical solutions could successfully incorporate into their policy platform.
Oklahoma faces significant issues in criminal justice, ranking third in the nation for overall incarceration. However, there's an ongoing debate around justice reform, which includes the reclassification of certain crimes. Independent candidates could play a crucial role in shaping these policies and advocating for effective justice reform.
Another criminal justice reform issue is how incarcerated individuals are managed within the system. An innovative approach is the push for providing educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals. This is a move that could lead to positive post-release outcomes and contribute to economic growth, which presents a unique policy platform for independents.
Oklahomans show strong support for maintaining public safety and cooperating with law enforcement agencies. There is substantial backing for allowing the governor to remove local prosecutors who refuse to prosecute crimes. Independent candidates with innovative policy proposals regarding public safety and justice reform could find success in state or local elected offices.
In 2024, Oklahoma will hold elections for the U.S. House, various state executive positions, the State House and Senate, State Supreme Court, intermediate appellate courts, and ballot measures. Locally, several cities are electing city council members, including Norman and Moore. There are also school boards seeking new members in several counties, and the cities of Moore and Tulsa are electing mayors in 2024.
Except for the court positions, which require legal credentials and experience, positions such as mayor, school board representatives, and city council members are non-partisan offices. This provides multiple opportunities for independent candidates to enter the political arena at the state or local levels.
The state of Oklahoma is poised for economic and social reform. Independent candidates in Oklahoma can position themselves as influencers in policy areas that are crucial to voters in the state, including tackling government corruption and raising the minimum wage.
With a significant portion of the electorate being independent, there's a demand for fresh perspectives and new ideas in the political landscape. Independent candidates can fill this gap by building a platform for innovative policies and approaches.
Running for office as an independent allows candidates to focus on local and state-specific issues more closely, resonating with the immediate concerns of Oklahomans. For example, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly support reforms that encourage work while still protecting unemployment and welfare benefits. This includes support for verifying unemployment benefits eligibility and establishing mandatory job referral services.
A majority of voters (72%) favor requiring financial advisors to seek client consent before investing in funds driven by environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.
A significant 76% of likely voters support auditing vote totals after every election, reflecting a widespread desire for secure and transparent electoral processes. Independent candidates can put voters at ease by highlighting a commitment to voting security and transparency in the electoral process.
Since the latest U.S. census in 2020, the Hispanic population in Oklahoma has increased by 42%. However, their needs are not being addressed by the establishment parties in the state. The right independent candidate could give voice to the underserved by addressing areas like the lack of access to bilingual voting materials and other issues that affect this growing demographic.
Oklahoma's election timeline includes a primary election on June 18, a primary runoff on August 27, if needed, and the general election on November 5, 2024. The filing period for many potential candidates, including independent and third-party candidates, is April 3-5, 2024.
This timeline allows candidates time to strategically plan and execute their campaigns.
Here are just a few of the offices up for election in Oklahoma this year:
If you're inspired to bring change to Oklahoma by running for office, Good Party Academy is your go-to resource. We offer tools and ongoing support that’s designed to help independent candidates from all backgrounds run successful campaigns. Our platform was created to make navigating the political landscape easier and more efficient, whether you're a seasoned politician or a first-time candidate.
Your voice matters, and we're here to amplify it!
Join other Good Party-certified candidates who are on a mission to transform the political landscape in America one election at a time. Together, we can help you make a meaningful impact in Oklahoma's 2024 elections.