Every four years Nebraska begins to transition from the blistering, heat of August into the pleasant breezes of fall; yet, this year, a nervous buzz fills the air. People are focusing less on Pumpkin Spice Lattés and bundling up in fashionable clothes for the pumpkin patch. Its election year.
Gina Frank, the Block Captain Director for the Nebraska Democratic Party (NDP), explained the significance of this upcoming presidential election, “The political norms that we are accustomed to have been completely ignored by this administration. Things that keep our country safe and secure, checks and balances, they are just non-existent.” Frank, 37, stressed that this could be the most important election in her lifetime even though she admitted she has not always been active within politics in previous elections.
Historically, Nebraska is predominately a ‘red state’ through and through. Wedged within a deep sea of conservatism that engulfs the entirety of the Midwest, Nebraska favors Republican values, mainly because of its agricultural-heavy economy. Based on Politico’s report of the 2016 election, President Donald Trump secured all five of the state’s electoral points, despite the state’s strange electoral voting system.
Along with being the only unicameral state in the union, it is also one of only two states (the other being Maine) to award electoral votes as a split within the states’ congressional districts. Nebraska has three congressional districts in the state that are each allotted one electoral vote, typically won by a popular vote within its respective district. The other two electoral votes are granted collectively to the state by population.
In the 2016 election, the only two counties that surmounted enough votes to show up as light blue on the map of Nebraska were Lancaster and Douglas (see figures 1 and 2); home to the cities of Lincoln and Omaha. These cities are the most populated parts of the state, and seemingly most ‘progressive thinking’ when it comes to the political spectrum.
The congressional district that is most likely to receive any electoral votes for the Democratic party is congressional district two, covering all of Douglas County and a small fraction of Sarpy (see figure 3). Even with its Democratic voting efforts, Lancaster County is part of the first congressional district, which continually hands over an electoral vote to the Republican party.
In response, the Nebraska Democratic Party has been working extremely hard to reach out to voters in a positive way. “We had an effort called ‘100,000 Calls Across Nebraska,’ and we blew right past those goals and made 170,000 calls. We have sent out 50,000 handwritten postcards to voters who are not likely to vote but are strongly Democratic [as well].”
A common narrative about Nebraska and the entire Midwest for that matter is that, these states must vote Republican to support the economic livelihood of farming and agriculture. Frank dismantled this point adding that, “Joe Biden has an amazing rural plan [for] rural Nebraskans and rural voters across the country.”
She made it clear that the stance of the Democratic Party is not to threaten farmers, but to try to pose a more efficient and sustainable agricultural practices. Frank goes on to add, “Biden supports rural agriculture, country of origin labeling, ethanol, clean energy, and solar [power].”
The confidence of the Democratic Party in this election is evident as Frank says there has been “non-stop foot traffic [in the office] and an overwhelming amount of engagement not just from Democrats, but non-partisan voters and even Republicans.” Compared to previous elections, the Democratic Party in Nebraska is witnessing a swing in opinion on Donald Trump.
Setting aside the pumpkin spice and pumpkin carving, the Nebraska Democratic Party is urging Nebraskans to embrace the season of politics with hopes of change, compromise, and prosperity for this nation. Frank, like other Democrats, feels it is time to restore justice and vote officials into office keep this country unified, not divided. With this group effort, Nebraska just might turn the White House blue this election season.
Election Day is Wednesday, November 3, 2020. Below are resources to assist voters this season.
Click here to check your voter registration status
Click here to find a polling station near you
Click here to check the status of your ballot