Polls in Oklahoma closed at 7 p.m. as voters in the Sooner State nominate which candidates they want to see in November’s presidential election. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has won the Republican presidential primary in Oklahoma, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contest.
Updated March 2, 9:33 a.m.
Cruz's win came as a surprise to many in the state’s Republican Party.
Trump fans filled the room at the state GOP Watch Party in Oklahoma City, with only a handful of visible Cruz supporters, and even less Rubio voters.
After CNN declared Cruz the winner in Oklahoma, most of the crowd just stared silently at the television.
A few minutes later, Trump supporter Stick Keiner said he was still confident his candidate would win overall because of the New Yorker’s enthusiasm and business experience.
"Everything from all the other party candidates right there, even in the Republican Party right there that we've all been hearing, it's the same story," Keiner said. "We've heard it yesterday. It's the same speech, over and over again. Trump brings something new."
Gov. Mary Fallin made an appearance at the watch party after Cruz won the state’s Republican vote and encouraged GOP members to back whomever wins the nomination.
Updated 11:44 p.m.
Supporters of Bernie Sanders were jubilant Tuesday after the Vermont Senator secured a 52 to 42 percent victory over Hillary Clinton in the Oklahoma Democratic Primary.
About 100 of Bernie Sanders’ supporters cheered at District Coffee House. Stephen Elmore of Oklahoma City sports a Bernie Sanders tattoo on his right arm. It’s a fresh tattoo; he just got it last Friday. He said Sanders’ primary victory in Oklahoma means people are ready for a change.
“People are tired of being poor, working over forty hours and still not having any money," Elmore said. "My parents wouldn’t even answer the phone any more because they were getting calls from student loans and they didn’t have the money to pay it.”
“All of the politicians here got people excited. It didn’t matter if you were Democrat or Republican. We were excited in Oklahoma to see any politician. I’d certainly say the politicians coming helped with the turnout, which certainly helped Bernie Sanders," Bennett said. “I have been following politics my whole life. I got my first voter registration card the day after I turned 18. This is unlike anything I have ever seen in Oklahoma."
Former state Sen. ator and Democratic superdelegate Connie Johnson called the Sanders victory “sweet.” Johnson said she is in tune with Sanders’ platform, like criminal justice reform and his opposition to the death penalty.
“I think he offers us health care. Oklahoma won’t expand Medicaid. We have mental health problems off the charts and we won’t expand Medicaid. The minimum wage. Legalizing medical marijuana," Johnson said.
Updated 9:25 p.m.
Gov. Mary Fallin addressed the crowd at the Republican Party watch party in Oklahoma City, telling the audience made up of primarily Cruz and Trump supporters she was proud to see so many different campaign surrogates and voters come together.
Fallin asked the party to come together once a nominee is chosen this summer, because she wants to make sure Oklahoma is a place the eventual GOP candidate can count on.
.@GovMaryFallin: "Once we get our nominee, we must come together."
The Oklahoma State Election Board says the 2016 primaries set a new turnout record with 760,000 votes cast and counting. 438,000 of those voters were Republicans, 324,000 were Democrats. The old record was 752,000 in 2008, when Hillary Clinton won Oklahoma's Democratic primary. John McCain won that Republican contest.
Earlier Tuesday University of Oklahoma political scientist Keith Gaddie said the urban centers of Oklahoma City and Tulsa could determine the Democratic outcome. The two candidates split the state's major metropolitan areas. In Tulsa County, 50 percent of Democratic voters cast ballots for Sanders, while 47 percent voted for Clinton. 50 percent of Democratic voters in Oklahoma County selected Clinton, and 47 percent for Sanders.
In Cleveland County, home to the Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma, the divide was more stark. 60 percent voted for Sanders, with just 37 percent for Clinton. The gap was slightly less pronounced in Payne County, where Oklahoma State University is located. 57 percent voted for Sanders, while 39 percent for Clinton.
Updated 8:24 p.m.
The Associated Press called Oklahoma’s Democratic primary for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
With 1277 of 1956 precincts reporting, representing over half of the vote, Sanders leads former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a margin of 52 percent to 40 percent.
Updated 8:08 p.m.
The Associated Press has called the Oklahoma Republican presidential primary for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
With 867 of 1956 precincts reporting, Cruz had captured 34 percent of the vote, followed by Donald Trump at 30 percent, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 24 percent.
Attorney Frank Urbanic described himself as a “big Cruz supporter.”
“I guess it is surprising based on the polls, but there’s been a lot of surprises this election season,” Urbanic said.
Updated 7:55 p.m.
Numbers are starting to trickle in from the State Election Board, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pulling ahead with 51 percent of the Democratic vote, compared to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with 41 percent. 504 of 1956 precincts are reporting, just over 25 percent of the vote.
At the Sanders watch party at District Coffee House in Oklahoma City, supporters of the self-proclaimed democratic socialist say they haven’t seen this type of energy since 2008 when President Obama first ran. KGOU’s Jacob McCleland told our newscast desk the supporters say Sanders rally have a similar energy as when Obama first sought the presidency.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Oklahoma City’s East 6th Street Christian Church said he’s been drawn to Sanders since the beginning of his campaign.
“Senator Sanders has a long history of fighting, and even fighting by himself sometimes,” Jackson said. “I’m a CSPAN junkie, so you watch these things sometimes, and he seems to be speaking in what seems to be almost an empty place, but he’s been consistent for a long time in fighting for the things I believe in.”
Jackson also said Sanders speaks his language in terms of both international policies and social issues.
“We’ve been so hawkish, and when you deal with all this war, and you accumulate the kind of debt that we do by war, it means that you can’t do the other thing that you need to do domestically,” Jackson said.
Oklahoma only has a handful of delegates up for grabs today – 43 on the Republican side, and 38 Democratic delegates. The Democrats also have four “superdelegates” who don’t have to formally vote for a candidate until July’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
KGOU’s Kate Carlton Greer is at the Oklahoma Republican watch party, which is packed with supporters of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. She told our Newscast unit supporters were wearing Trump hats, shirts, and even saw a cowboy hat with a Trump bumper sticker.
There are supporters of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, but it’s “definitely a Trump room.”
Oklahoma saw a flurry of candidate visits in the final 72 hours leading up to the nominating contests. Republican candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio all visited Oklahoma between Friday and Monday evenings.
Democratic hopeful and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders also made a campaign stop in Oklahoma Sunday afternoon. Former president Bill Clinton also visited Edmond on Saturday on behalf of his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
GOP primary voters in the state have said they’re deeply dissatisfied with Washington, and want to see someone from outside the Beltway capture the nomination. On the Democratic side, voters say the economy should be the country’s top priority, followed income inequality and health care.