Primaries are bad. Runoffs are worse.
Primary Elections are like going to Golden Corral but you only get to eat from the salad bar. Leaving out independents and the other party make messages from candidates necessarily more polarized.
In runoffs, that problem increases exponentially. The voter pool gets far more shallow. The person with the most cousins can win some seats.
The Oklahoma runoffs this week were no different. Seats whose primaries had more than 4,000 votes only brought out 1,500 voters for a runoff. That narrow subset of voters is an interesting group. Very few uninterested voters even knew Tuesday was an election night. They vote for pet issues and maybe presidents every four years. Runoff voters rarely miss a ballot.
Surprisingly, Kevin Stitt who has a bad voting record himself, won a big majority of the votes from those dedicated voters. The key for him seemed to be touting his love of Donald Trump where Mick Cornett only loved Trump a little bit.
The difference in the republican gubernatorial runoff obviously wasn't education funding. Stitt made it clear that he would have stood against the teachers who came to the capital last term. Cornett was more supportive of the teachers and education funding. Stitt's win, however doesn't necessarily show Republican support for his position.
Six more Republican incumbents were voted out of office Tuesday night.
All of them stood against funding for the recent teacher pay raise and they paid the price in the small sample runoffs.
Add those six to the 33 who had been term limited or "retired" on their own and five more who lost in primaries and you can see that Republican voters didn't appreciate the partisan stand against teachers.
Remember, teachers can be Republicans too.
Hardline republicans like Bobby Cleveland from Slaughterville and Tess Teague from eastern Oklahoma County were among those who stood up to teachers and won't even be on the ballot in November. More representatives and senators could lose in November. There will be a lot of new names on doors at the state capital.
The stand against teachers will be an issue for Stitt in November. It will be hard to walk back the partisan rhetoric that helped him win the primary. That same rhetoric will likely lose the general election.
Because of Cornett's success in Oklahoma City as a mayor and his more moderate policies, I thought the only chance Drew Edmondson had to get elected in Oklahoma as a Democrat was to get Stitt as an opponent.
I know a lot of Republican teachers and their friends and family woke up Wednesday morning knowing full well that they will be voting for a democrat in November thanks to Stitt's win Tuesday night.
Pledging allegiance to Donald Trump and bashing immigrants won't have the same effect at polling places when democrats and independents help make the decision. Trump is a good friend in republican primaries but he hasn't had the same luck in general elections.
In November, there will be a huge number of elections that will be hard to predict. More political outsiders and newcomers will be sent to the state legislature.
The governor's race will be interesting as we find out how effective both candidates' messages are when they leave the comfort of their own party.
A wild card in the race will be Libertarian Chris Powell. Will he take votes from Edmondson or Stitt? History tells us that a third party candidate won't receive more than five to ten percent of the vote. But with Stitt and Edmondson in a close race, where the libertarian votes come from will be very important.