With the 2020 Presidential Election less than 50 days away, most national polling points to a Joe Biden victory on Nov. 3. However, the race to the White House could be a lot tighter than some polls suggest. Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, a political analytics site, took to Twitter to post an electoral map scenario based on current polling. In the scenario, Joe Biden has 270 electoral votes, while the incumbent, President Donald Trump, has 268 votes.
Silver has the race coming down to one electoral vote, and it’s from Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district (NE-2). The district encompasses Douglas County, including the Omaha-metro area, and portions of Sarpy County.
Presidential candidates need at least 270 votes to win the White House. Current polling by GQR Research shows Biden leading Trump by seven points among likely voters in NE-2. Cook Political Report, an independent political analysis group, has marked NE-2 as “lean democrat” for the upcoming election.
Paul Landow, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said it’s possible for Biden to win an electoral vote from Nebraska, but some factors complicate that.
“Sarpy County tilts heavily Republican and makes it very difficult for a Democrat to win,” Landow said. “Only a perfect turnout would make it happen. I would say possible, but unlikely.”
Nebraska is one of only two states that splits electoral college votes by congressional district. In the 2008 Presidential Election, President Barack Obama won NE-2, making it the first time in state history for electoral votes to be split. Obama was also the first Democrat to get any vote from Nebraska since the 1964 Presidential Election, when President Lyndon B. Johnson won all of the state’s electoral votes.
The Nebraska Democratic Party has been “working with the national party, the Biden team and Nebraska candidates,” according to Kevin O’Hanlon, the communications director for the Nebraska Democratic Party.
“We have a strong coordinated campaign to share resources and efforts to get Democrats and independent voters to the polls,” O’Hanlon said.
“I do think it is a possibility that Joe Biden could win,” said Rylin Hoffner, president of the UNL College Republicans, in regard to NE-2. “I think the Republican party in Nebraska is very fired up.”
“I think the GOP will do well. We continue to work hard every day, and we fortunately have a Republican governor to help endorse these smaller elections,” Hoffner said.
Should the election come down to Silver’s scenario, Nebraska could be the sole vote to elect the former vice president as president and elect the first female on a major party ticket as vice president. However, if no candidate reaches the 270-threshold, the House of Representatives will pick the next president, and the Senate will choose the vice president, something that hasn’t happened in more than two centuries.
“It will be an interesting election, and it is possible that it will not be settled until several days after the polls close,” Landow said.