Sanders in Tulsa
Oklahoma is known to be an extremely conservative state, so it is rare when a Democratic party candidate attempts to campaign here. It’s even more rare when they garner the support of more than 9,000 people.
The line for the Bernie Sanders rally in Tulsa stretched around the BOK Center, even though the rally itself was held in the Cox Business Center.
Outside the event, campaign organizers roamed the crowd, explaining how they would be going door-to-door and encouraging voters to support Sanders in the primaries.
An Oklahoma teachers interest group gathered signatures for a petition, and hawkers rolled carts of brightly colored buttons and hats up and down the line.
The line shuffled along for three hours as the sun lowered and the air grew crisp. Those who got inside crowded into a standing-only event hall.
Sanders waited 15 or 20 minutes to begin his speech, attempting to allow as many people into the room as possible.
If Trump supporters rally around a distrust of foreigners, Sanders supporters stand together in revulsion for the “one percent” and “Wall Street.” Sanders again lauded his plans for free tuition, a single-payer health care plan, a minimum wage of fifteen dollars an hour and three-months paid maternity leave.
He called out Wal-Mart for paying its “associates” so little that they have to go on welfare, and called out Trump for dividing the nation with his policies.
At one point, his wife asked him to stop the speech because someone in the audience had fainted, so he did until EMSA showed up and took care of the individual. The room reverberated with chants of “Ber-nie! Ber-nie! Ber-nie!”
Sanders also extrapolated on recent racial tensions in the United States, as well as recent legislation allowing same-sex marriages throughout the country. He referred to the problems faced by racial minorities and women and asked their white and male allies to support them.
He wryly referred to Republican candidates as “my Republican friends,” and, “my colleagues,” before critiquing Republican policy.
The crowd was devoid of protesters for the most part. Instead, the audience booed and cheered loudly on cue.
Campaign officials reported that 7,100 people made it inside to hear Sanders’ speech, and about 2,000 people were still outside. After giving his speech indoors, Sanders jumped onto a railing outside and addressed the remaining attendees. “All of you know that democracy is not a spectator sport,” he told the crowd, encouraging them to vote in the primaries.
The 99 percent
Leading up to Super Tuesday, Oklahoma has been hotly contested by the Democratic candidates. Bill Clinton came to speak at Booker T. Washington high school on behalf of his wife, and Sanders went on to Oklahoma City after his Tulsa appearance.
Oklahoma will be a swing state for the Democratic primaries because it has the most unclear margins of candidate support out of the thirteen states and one territory voting on March. A Public Policy Poll goes so far as to say Hillary and Bernie are only separated by about two points in Oklahoma polls. Meanwhile, Hillary and Bernie are projected to win roughly similar amounts of the thirteen states, so Oklahoma could be a deciding factor.
The Oklahoma primary system favors Sanders because of his popularity amongst independents. In Oklahoma, primary-goers must vote along the party lines that they registered in; Democrats agreed to allow independents to vote in their primaries, but Republicans did not. If independents can only vote in the Democratic primary and typically favor Bernie, he will have that advantage.
Oklahoma also has a history of socialism. Woody Guthrie’s hit, “This Land is Your Land,” is reminiscent of that past, and Sanders acknowledged the icon of midwestern populism by stopping by the Woody Guthrie Center in downtown Tulsa during his visit. Oklahoma’s 1907 constitution has plenty of populist influences as well, as some of Oklahoma’s original settlers brought the Populist movement with them from Kansas.
There are several sites which gather information from nationwide polls and crunch the numbers to get a composite percentage such as Real Clear Politics, Huffpost Pollster and Public Policy Polling. These websites show that Sanders is consistently polling higher than Trump and any other Republican candidate, but is still polling just bellow Clinton on a regular basis.