TULSA, Oklahoma - More Oklahomans voted in the 2018 primary election than in the 2014 general election or the 2016 presidential primary.

A political analyst calls it unprecedented, and the State Election Board hopes the level of engagement continues through the general election November 6th.

"Increased attention to state politics, particularly around the teacher walkout, led to more people filing, leading more runoffs,” said David Blatt with the non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Blatt said the medical marijuana state question also made a big difference.

"I think a lot of people who typically don't vote, and who might not have voted because they're not necessarily paying attention to what’s going on with the budget,” he said. “And, in some cases, people were unaware of who the incumbents were, who the challengers, so, kind of a more even distribution of the votes than we often see.”

Blatt said a strong anti-incumbent mood hit Republican legislators and statewide officeholders.

“So, you had six Republican legislators who were defeated in the primary...and another 11 who were forced into a runoff,” he said. “Particularly many of those Republicans who voted against the revenue bill to fund teacher pay increase.”

Pointing out what Blatt called a frustration by Oklahoma voters looking for a change of direction.

So, what happens now? Blatt said to expect to see a lot of money spent on advertising over the next few months. But, he said it will be a challenge by candidates facing runoffs because many voters who came out for the medical marijuana issue might not be as motivated to come out in August.

“There have been many cases in the state where someone ends up in first place in the first primary who gets knocked off in the runoff phase just because it is an entirely different electorate,” Blatt said.

Blatt also said Oklahoma is an increasingly urban state and the trend is that a lot of issues coming to the ballot with more liberal positions are doing very well.

Still, the general election is too far away to translate just how things will shake out.

Below is a breakdown of the voting totals:

Republicans:

  • 2018 primary votes cast: 452,194
  • 2014 primary votes cast: 264,894
  • 2016 presidential primary votes cast: 459,922

Democrats:

  • 2018 primary votes cast: 395,038
  • 2014 primary votes cast: 167,863
  • 2016 presidential primary votes cast: 335,843

Libertarian:

  • 2018 primary votes cast: 3,549

Totals: 

  • 2018 State Question votes cast: 891,654
  • 2014 combined primary votes cast: 432,757
  • 2014 general votes cast: 824,831
  • 2016 combined presidential primary votes cast: 795,765