In presidential battlegrounds like the bellwether state of Ohio, voters are being bombarded by the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns. Oklahoma shares a border with battleground state Colorado and doesn’t seem far from Ohio. But when it comes to presidential politics, it might as well be outer space.
The candidates are focused on just 11 battleground states, which leaves most Americans on the sidelines. Oklahoma hasn’t hosted a general election presidential candidate speech in 40 years. Voters there say they’re being forgotten, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil.
It was a busy day at a phone bank for Clinton in Oklahoma City when Dokoupil was there, but the candidate herself was long gone.
“You don’t get many Democratic candidates running for president in Oklahoma,” Clinton said at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Dec. 11, 2015.
Neither Clinton nor Trump have campaigned in the Sooner State since winning their party’s nomination. In fact, the candidates have stumped in the same 11 states, leaving about 80 percent of America on the sidelines.
Diners are a classic campaign stop, but not in Oklahoma. And the voters have noticed.
“I feel like my vote is pretty much worthless,” said one voter.
“This state is irrelevant,” said another.
“And you’ve received zero calls?” Dokoupil asked a group of women at a table.
“I’ve received zero,” one of them answered.
“Zero calls, and I have a landline,” said another.
“Any knocks on the door?”
“Nope,” they said.
“Mailers at least?” Dokoupil asked.
“The major party candidates have spent more than half of their campaign events in only four states,” said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, an organization that wants to replace the electoral college system with a national popular vote. “So there’s this incredible disparity about the states that count and the states that don’t.”
The way spectator states like Oklahoma have it now, they’re often overlooked long after the election is over. They get half the number of disaster designations, no matter who is elected.
In 2012, a tornado destroyed nearly 100 homes and killed six people in Oklahoma. The state received no federal funding. Two months later, New Hampshire received more than $3 million after a rainstorm. No one died.
People living in spectator states are also less likely to vote; Oklahoma is one of four states with less than 50 percent turnout.
But some voters we talked to here were against the idea of a national popular vote.
“We’re not up there with population so i actually think we’d lose out more on a national popular vote,” said Scott Chance, chairman of Oklahoma Young Republicans.