NORMAN — Political analyst Keith Gaddie told Cleveland County Democrats on Friday that if the party intends to grow, it needs to embrace Oklahoma’s changing demographics including a rise in evangelicals under age 30.
Oklahoma has a higher percentage among the young “who are more evangelical than around the country,” Gaddie said.
“These are the young who say I am tired of my church being political. I’m tired of the abortion issue, and gays are no longer an issue,” he added.
They want to help the poor and minorities, but Gaddie said they don’t see the government as the vehicle to bring about change.
The number of those registering as independents is surpassing gains in Republicans or Democrats. He predicted that registered Oklahoma Republicans will supersede Democrats in two years.
In Oklahoma, the Democrats’ strength has traditionally been among whites living in eastern Oklahoma, particularly in the southeast corner of the state.
But more people are leaving rural Oklahoma and moving to urban centers like Oklahoma City and Tulsa, especially to neighborhoods where there is low unemployment and good jobs.
“They engage in their communities,” he said, and Democrats should embrace them.
Gaddie was asked whether Oklahoma voters in the next election would embrace a woman president, i.e. Hillary Clinton.
Oklahoma overwhelmingly did not vote for Barack Obama, and most of the those voters would not support a woman as president, he noted
Gaddie, a University of Oklahoma political science professor, often gives speeches assessing the state’s political climate. He also is often a commentator in the media including radio and television.
Gaddie said he is registered as an “independent” after growing up in a Democratic family. He thinks his personal politics fit more in the middle rather than Democratic or Republican.
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