Anyone who attends Creighton University basketball or other sports or entertainment events at the CHI Health Center Arena in downtown Omaha may be familiar with a man who shouts to the masses (pre-pandemic) entering and leaving the building. His message? A warning how Omaha could prove pivotal in a presidential election.
Which leads us to November 5, 2020 with Joe Biden on the precipice of becoming the 46th President of the United States.
With 264 electoral votes won, Biden needs to hang on to win Nevada and its six electoral votes to reach 270.
Nevada has reported 75 percent of its ballots, with Biden holding approximately an 8,000 vote lead over Donald Trump. The rub is Nevada's result may not be known until next week. The state proactively provided mail-in ballots to registered voters. Results from ballots postmarked by November 3 count as long as they are received by November 10.
So there is no exact number on how many votes will straggle into Nevada's election office. The other four outstanding states, Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania lean towards President Trump. If all results hold, Biden wins 270-268. President Trump has already demanded a recount in Wisconsin and has sued to stop vote counting in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. It likely figures to do nothing but delay the final certification. All of this leads back to Nebraska's Second Congressional District. Maine and Nebraska spilt votes by congressional districts. Trump gained one electoral vote in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, comprising of rural areas. It is Trump's lone marker earned in the northeast from New York State into New England.
Nebraska is comprised of three congressional districts:
1st District: Southeast Nebraska, including the city of Lincoln and Omaha's suburbs.
2nd District: City of Omaha
3rd District: The rest of Nebraska. The winner of Nebraska's statewide election gets two electoral votes, ensuring at least three of the five votes overall.
Donald Trump predictably won the state, along with the 1st and 3rd Districts. But urban Omaha and its precious one electoral college vote went to Biden, the former vice-presidents single tally in the I-29/I-35 heartland besides his win in Minnesota. As with other battle lines drawn even more clearly than past elections, Biden excelled and won critical urban areas while Trump connected with the small town/rural crowd.
Which as of now is the difference between 269-269 and 270-268.
The area is not ignored by candidates, Trump held a rally at Eppley Airfield on Oct. 27 attended by thousands, but left hundreds stranded in the freezing cold for hours waiting for buses.
In 2008 Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe did not ignore Omaha. "That was my favorite target," Plouffe wrote in his book "The Audacity to Win".
One has to wonder about the traditional 'winner-take-all' format and if more states ultimately follow Maine and Nebraska's lead of splitting districts. So after tense contests in the battleground 'Big Ten' states after Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. After the high-stakes of Florida and Texas played out. After Arizona, Nevada and even Alaska, the 2020 Presidential Election may have been decided in Omaha. The lone voice screaming in front of CHI Arena knew all along.