Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders edged out rival Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's Oklahoma primary -- a wild turnaround from eight years ago, when the state went to Clinton over Barack Obama by more than 20 percentage points.
Sanders, whose populist campaign harkened back to Oklahoma's more radical roots, was projected the winner.
Headed into Super Tuesday, polls were entirely unclear as to who would win the state. Voter turnout was also low: Oklahoma did little to encourage early voting, allotting just three days for people to vote at county election board offices.
Independents voting in Tuesday's primary gave Sanders a helpful boost. Over the past several decades, Oklahoma Democrats have left the party in droves to become independents or Republicans. Support for Sanders has also been strongest among white voters, who constitute the majority of the state's shrinking Democratic electorate.
Meanwhile, Clinton's loss comes despite former President Bill Clinton's rallies in the state to drum up support for his wife. Clinton's strategy of yoking herself to Obama also did not appear to pay any dividends.
"Reagan Democrats have left the party, so that leaves a more urban, younger universe," said Andrew Rice, a Democrat and former Oklahoma state senator who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008. He endorsed Clinton, but told The Huffington Post on Monday that he thought Sanders would eke out a win. "He's a Democratic Tom Coburn, a protest voice," Rice said.
Oklahoma's economy largely weathered the 2008 financial crisis thanks to surging energy prices. Now that oil prices are collapsing, however, the state's economy has followed suit.
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