Trump forced to defend Nebraska in contest for single electoral vote


With precious few days remaining in the 2020 campaign, President Trump was forced on Tuesday to travel to Nebraska’s Second Congressional District to try to fend off a challenge from Joe Biden, who leads in polls tracking the battle for a single electoral vote.

“Seven days from now, we’re going to win Nebraska,” Trump said at an outdoor rally in Omaha, the largest city in the state, adding, “You know we have to win both Nebraskas, you’re two, you’re cut.”

Trump is projected to easily win the remainder of the solidly Republican state’s five electoral votes, but if the race turns out to be close, capturing the Omaha-based congressional district could propel Biden to the presidency.

“Nebraska we know is looking great,” Trump said. “I mean, in theory, I didn’t really have to be here, but it’s nice to be with your friends.”

In the final days of the campaign, both Biden and Trump have mostly limited their campaigning to states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona, where polls show a tight contest. Because Biden is now competitive in states like Texas and Georgia, where Biden held a rally on Tuesday, Trump’s margin for error has grown smaller, forcing him to dedicate resources and time to Nebraska.

Though Trump won the Second District in 2016 by 2 points, according to an average of polls compiled by the website FiveThirtyEight, Biden now leads there by 6.7 points.

“Joe Biden doesn’t even respect you enough to campaign here. He never came here, did he come here?” Trump said.

Over the last two weeks, Nebraska has seen new cases of COVID-19 rise by 24 percent. Hospitalizations for the disease are also up 41 percent over the same period. As of Tuesday, 64,506 people in the state have tested positive for the virus and 611 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported.

Trump was obliged to note the flare-up at Tuesday’s rally.

“Little areas in the Midwest, certain areas that are heated up right now, they’ll go down,” he assured his audience, most of whom were not wearing face coverings. “They’ll go down very quickly. They’ll be down within two weeks, they’re figuring.”

In a Tuesday statement to the Omaha World Herald newspaper, Biden said he was praying for Nebraska residents who are witnessing a record spike of the disease since the pandemic began spreading across the American heartland.

“My commitment to you is this: As your president, I won’t give up on Nebraska,” Biden said. “I’ll finally get this virus under control and protect your health care.”

On Tuesday, the Biden campaign released an ad targeting Nebraska voters.

While Trump largely pulled television ads earlier this month from states like Ohio, Texas and Iowa in favor of Facebook ads, he continued running a modest number of TV spots in Nebraska, CNBC reported. Biden, in contrast, has spent considerably more on television ads in those states.

The Second District shares a media market with portions of Iowa, another swing state Trump easily won in 2016 but is in danger of losing to Biden. A poll released Tuesday by Nexstar Iowa 2020 RABA Research found Biden leading Trump in Iowa by a margin of 50 percent to 46 percent.

Nebraska and Maine are the only two U.S. states that award electoral votes by district. The rest follow a winner-take-all approach. Former President Barack Obama was the last Democrat to win the Second District, edging out John McCain in 2008. He lost the district four years later to Mitt Romney.

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