2016 ‘winner take all’ presidential vote fight already brewing

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

It’s likely to be Nebraska’s first test of campaign 2016—how to divvy up the state’s five electoral votes—and insiders expect it’ll come early next year.

The stakes are high: From the White House to the Omaha House seat. So expect the GOP to take yet another shot at rearranging the state’s presidential votes in the Electoral College—going back to what’s known as “winner take all.”

2008 Electoral Vote

All of Nebraska’s five electoral votes once went to the presidential candidate who won the state’s popular vote—hence W-T-A.

But that ended in the early ’90’s when Democrats managed to carve up the state’s five votes: Two going to the candidate with the most statewide votes, and one to the winner of each of the state’s three congressional districts.

Republicans have been itching to go back to the future since 2008, when Democrat Barack Obama claimed one of the five votes by winning the Omaha-dominated 2nd District. Obama lost the 2nd District in 2012 but that did little to soothe Nebraska Republicans who wasted no time trying to convince lawmakers to rewrite the law in 2013.

While the bill appeared to have more than enough votes to pass it failed to survive a 2014 filibuster by State Sen. Ernie Chambers, the unicameral’s lone independent.

But a new legislature with even more Republicans in 2015 and those high stakes—the presidency and the 2nd District Congressional seat—make another GOP push for W-T-A virtually certain.

State Sen. John Murante-R, who is expected to take the helm of the Nebraska Legislature’s Government Committee, tells Nebraska Watchdog he expects some state lawmaker “will re-introduce the winner take all bill.”

If Nebraska joins W-T-A, come 2106 the National Democratic Party will undoubtably concede the state to the GOP’s presidential nominee, whoever it is.

All of which means a potentially rougher road for Congressman-elect Brad Ashford’s 2016 re-election. While Ashford can expect a good chunk of national party money to come his way—as it did in 2014—if the Omaha electoral vote is off the table national foot soldiers and even more national cash will go elsewhere.

As for the GOP’s chances of passing W-T-A in 2015, they certainly look better.

Last year there were 30 Republicans in the legislature but after a strong showing on Election Day come 2015 that number climbs to 35 with just 13 Democrats (down from 18) and independent Chambers.

Even with those numbers though W-T-A is not a done deal—in fact it may only push Chambers to up his filibuster game.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org.

Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday morning at 7:40, KLIN in Lincoln every Tuesday morning at 7:35 and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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