Make That 365: Obama on Track to Pick Up Nebraska Electoral Vote
Updated 7:36 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta
President-elect Barack Obama appears likely to add one more electoral vote to his already decisive total, thanks to a passel of outstanding ballots that were counted today in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District.
The Omaha World-Herald called the race in the heavily metropolitan district in Obama's favor after election officials began counting early and provisional ballots in Douglas County.
Official results won't be available until next week, but Nebraska Democratic Party communications director Eric Van Horn said the party is "very confident in the World-Herald projection."
Obama won 8,434 out of the 15,039 early votes not yet included in Tuesday's totals, the World-Herald reported. That turned a 569-vote lead for McCain into a 1,260-vote lead for Obama.
Nebraska is one of only two states, along with Maine, that splits its electoral votes by congressional district.
A win for Obama in the 2nd District would represent the first time that a Democrat would have picked up an electoral vote in Nebraska since Lyndon Johnson did so in 1964. It would also give the president-elect 365 electoral votes, to McCain's 162.
"We've been working toward this kind of thing for a long time and it would never have happened without the volunteers who worked so hard and without out a candidate like Barack Obama," said Van Horn. "It was just kind of the perfect storm here in Nebraska, and we look forward to building on it for years to come."
Obama built up a strong base in the 2nd District over a period of three years. He campaigned in the state for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) in 2006 and headlined the state Democrats' annual fundraising dinner, the Morrison-Exon Dinner, in May of that year.
The 2nd District includes Omaha, which sits right across the river from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and was visited by Obama during the long lead-up to the Iowa caucuses as well as last February.
A strong Omaha for Obama volunteer corp poured across state lines in 2007 and early 2008 to help organize conservative Western Iowa, and later helped Obama win the Democratic caucuses in Nebraska in February 2008. Obama's primary win over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton relied partly on delegates racked up in lopsided wins in such caucus states.
Ultimately, Obama opened three offices in Omaha and deployed 16 staffers against an effort run by the Nebraska GOP, rather than the McCain campaign, the World-Herald reports.
Douglas County, which includes Omaha, is also among the most urban and diverse counties in the otherwise rural plains state. While Nebraska overall is only 4.4 percent African American, Douglas County is 11.9 percent black, and in 2000 its population concentration per square mile was 1,400 -- compared to just 22 for the state overall.
Omaha also is the long-standing home of Berkshire Hathaway, whose legendary founder, Warren Buffet, is a close Obama adviser and now sits on his Transition Economic Advisory Board.
Nebraska's other senator, Republican Chuck Hagel, helped Obama out, as well. He is close to the senator from Illinois and traveled with him to Europe and the Middle East over the summer, and Hagel's wife, Lilibet Hagel, endorsed Obama in October.
Posted at 7:02 PM ET on Nov 7, 2008
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