He has a point.
Four years ago, Trump trounced 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by 25 points in the Cornhusker State – and he’s expected to easily win the state again.
But Nebraska – and Maine – are the only two states in the nation that divide their electoral votes by congressional district. And a competitive district in each of the states could help decide whether the president or Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the White House next week.
Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, an urban-suburban area anchored by the city of Omaha, has a history of being competitive. In 2008, then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama narrowly won the district, capturing its single electoral vote. In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won the district by single digits.
Trump narrowly carried Nebraska’s 2nd District four years ago, and the most recent poll in the district – conducted late last month by Siena College for the New York Times – indicated Biden with a single-digit advantage.
“You know, we have to win both Nebraskas, you know that, right?” Trump implored to his supporters Tuesday night as he capped a long day on the campaign trail with a rally at the airport in Omaha.
“You have two, you’re cut. We’re going to win both,” he emphasized.
And taking aim at his Democratic challenger, he argued that “Joe Biden doesn’t even respect you enough to campaign — he never came here, right? Did he come here? Oh, alright so that’s the end of that.”
Well-known election handicapper Nate Silver early last month tweeted a potential Electoral College map that suggested Biden winning the Electoral College vote 270-268, with Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District determining the outcome.
“It’s all going to come down to the recount in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District,” Silver wrote at the time.
Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of the nonpartisan political handicapper “Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” highlighted that “there are credible scenarios in which a single electoral vote could make all the difference.”
“For instance, if Biden keeps all the Clinton states and adds Michigan and Pennsylvania, he would be at 268 electoral votes. Those extra two electoral votes could get him to 270, or get Trump to 270. Additionally, Biden could win without Pennsylvania if he keeps the Clinton states and adds Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district,” noted Kondik, who’s based at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
On Sunday, Trump made a campaign stop in Maine’s mostly rural 2nd Congressional District.
It’s been 32 years since a Republican carried Maine in the race for the White House. You have to go all the way back to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988.
But four years ago Trump topped Clinton by 10 points in northern Maine, giving Trump an extra electoral vote. Clinton captured the state’s more urban and suburban 1st Congressional District by nearly 15 points and narrowly carried the statewide vote to win a total of three electoral votes. An average of the most recent polls in Maine indicates Biden far ahead in the statewide battle but point to a close contest for the 2nd District.
The president’s potential stop in Maine came four days after Vice President Mike Pence held a rally near Bangor on Wednesday.
Neither Biden nor his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have stopped in Maine’s 2nd District during the general election. But their spouses – Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff – campaigned in the state last month, and both separately returned to the district in recent days.
The trips by the candidates, their running mates and spouses point to the importance of even a single electoral vote.
Kondik emphasized that “both because of the potential for a close race, and because of the number of electoral votes at stake in the states likeliest to decide the election, neither side can overlook these single electoral votes.”
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