Oklahoma Congressman Steve Russell, R-5th District, is blaming his surprising loss to Democrat Kendra Horn on changing demographics in his district.
Specifically, he indicates that Millennials who have yet to embrace "values that matter" helped provide the narrow margin of victory for his opponent.
Rep. Russell's loss, by just over 3,000 votes, was one of the most surprising results in the state, if not the nation, last week. It was also surprising to many that Russell made no appearance and no public statement in the wake of the result.
This week, however, Russell offered his analysis of what happened, in a lengthy Facebook post titled "Breaking the Silence."
After a week of reflection, Russell built the case that the numbers were against him. Citing voter registration statistics from the Oklahoma Election Board, he said that, since 2014, registration of Democrats and Independents in the district, which is dominated by Oklahoma County, has outpaced registration of Republicans by almost two to one -- 17,000 newly registered Democrats and Independents versus 10,000 Republicans.
Some disagree with that analysis.
"I think Steve Russell lost because he ran a poor campaign," stated News 9 pollster Bill Shapard, founder of SoonerPoll.com.
Shapard says there are several reasons he believes Russell's campaign was not as effective as it could have been, but perhaps first and foremost because neither his campaign manager nor chief of staff were from the district.
"And Steve Russell just did not raise the kind of money that's necessary to run an effective campaign," Shapard said. "He got outworked by Kendra Horn."
But Russell says this was not about running a bad campaign. Instead, his post makes significant reference to census numbers showing that the Millennial population in Oklahoma City has climbed 20 percent since 2010.
He clearly implies that these young voters voted heavily for Horn, although the data is not yet available to confirm or deny that.
"Time and experience will engage this important population with the values that matter as they marry and raise families," Russell stated in the post. "I am optimistic about the potential of our country's future but saddened by its self-indulgence and lack of respect for one another."
Shapard says research in Oklahoma shows that young voters do not vote overwhelmingly Democrat. He says they break about 50-50 for Democrats and Republicans.
The bottom line, Shapard says, is that the 5th is still a Republican district.
"Half of the electorate on election day is a Republican," said Shapard, "and for him to lose as closely as he did, that means that there's a group of Republicans out there that didn't vote for him, he wasn't able to convince them."