United States Senate election in Oklahoma, 2022
The 2022 United States Senate election in Oklahoma took place on November 8, 2022. The election determined who would represent Oklahoma in the United States Senate for a six-year term beginning on January 3, 2023.
The Republican primary featured an incumbent facing challenges from within his own party.
Incumbent Senator James Lankford
James Lankford, the incumbent Republican senator, first joined the Senate in 2015 after serving in the U.S. House. Going into 2022, he was the clear favorite on the Republican side. Lankford is generally considered a mainstream conservative. His views align with the Republican party on issues like lowering taxes and opposing abortion.
One of Lankford’s challengers was Jackson Lahmeyer, a political newcomer. Lahmeyer attacked Lankford from the right and tried to portray him as not being sufficiently conservative. For example, Lahmeyer criticized Lankford for not endorsing former President Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election being stolen.
Joan Farr, a former state senator, also challenged Lankford in the Republican primary. However, she did not gain much traction in the race.
On the Democratic side, the nomination was up for grabs with no incumbent running. A competitive primary shaped up.
Madison Horn, a cybersecurity expert, emerged as the frontrunner on the Democratic side. Horn argued that Lankford was out of touch with Oklahoma voters. She centered her campaign on kitchen table issues like jobs, healthcare, and education.
Horn’s main challenger was Jason Bollinger, an attorney. He positioned himself as a bold progressive. For example, Bollinger advocated for “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal. However, those stances ultimately proved too liberal for Oklahoma’s general electorate.
Other Democratic Candidates
Other Democrats like Dennis Baker and Jo Glenn also competed in the primary but failed to gain traction against the top two candidates.
With Lankford winning the Republican nomination and Horn prevailing on the Democratic side, the general election matchup was set.
James Lankford vs. Madison Horn
Lankford was still favored in the general election due to Oklahoma’s solidly Republican leanings. The state hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1990. Horn tried to make the race competitive by appealing to moderate voters. But Lankford had the advantages of name recognition and incumbency on his side.
Key issues in the general election included abortion, the economy, healthcare, and energy policy. Lankford emphasized his conservative positions on social issues and presented himself as pro-business and anti-regulation. Horn stressed kitchen table concerns like education, healthcare, and veterans’ care. She portrayed Lankford as beholden to special interests.
Lankford held a significant fundraising advantage as the incumbent. He raised over $7 million for his re-election bid compared to about $3 million for Horn’s campaign. Outside Republican groups also spent heavily in support of Lankford.
In the end, Lankford cruised to re-election by a margin of over 30 points. He took 64% of the vote compared to just 32% for Horn. Lankford performed strongly across rural areas and small towns in Oklahoma, limiting Horn’s support mostly to urban centers like Oklahoma City.
Turnout for the 2022 Oklahoma Senate election was lower than the 2020 presidential election year but slightly higher than the 2018 midterms. Just under 1.2 million Oklahomans cast ballots in the Senate race. Voter enthusiasm was dampened by Lankford being a clear favorite for re-election throughout the race.
Impact on Senate Balance of Power
Because Lankford was re-elected, the outcome in Oklahoma did not alter the partisan balance in the Senate. Going into Election Day 2022, Democrats held a slim 50-50 majority with Vice President Harris’s tiebreaking vote. Republicans ultimately gained just one seat nationally in the midterms, leaving Democrats still in control of the upper chamber.
Wider National Context
Nationally, the 2022 midterms saw Republicans underperform expectations and fail to produce the anticipated “red wave” against Democrats. Races like Lankford’s comfortable re-election in Oklahoma helped contribute to the GOP’s relatively modest gains. The outcome showed that even in solidly red states like Oklahoma, voters were not enthused about wholesale rejection of the Democratic Party in 2022.
The Oklahoma Senate race saw the expected result, with incumbent Republican James Lankford coasting to re-election over Democrat Madison Horn. Voter turnout was muted in a race without much suspense over the final outcome. The end result maintained the status quo of GOP control over Oklahoma’s Senate seats and did not alter the national balance of power. Looking ahead to 2024, Lankford seems likely to be the heavy favorite for re-election barring major changes in Oklahoma’s political environment.
Who were the Republican candidates in the 2022 Oklahoma Senate election?
The Republican candidates were incumbent Senator James Lankford, Jackson Lahmeyer, and Joan Farr. Lankford won the primary.
Who won the Democratic nomination for Senate in Oklahoma?
Madison Horn defeated Jason Bollinger in the Democratic primary runoff election after finishing first in the initial June 2022 primary.
What was the final vote margin between Lankford and Horn?
Incumbent Lankford defeated Horn by over 30 points, 64% to 32%.
Did the Oklahoma Senate race change control of the Senate?
No, the GOP held the seat, so the balance of power remained 50-50 between the parties.
When is Lankford up for re-election again?
Lankford won a six-year term in 2022, so he will be up for re-election in November 2028.