Why Does Nebraska Split Electoral College Votes?

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While Nebraska is expected to be an easy victory for Donald Trump, the state has a unique way of deciding which candidate gets its electoral votes. For 48 states, the electoral votes go to whoever wins the popular vote, but in Nebraska and Maine, there is a different system to decide who gets their votes.

Nebraska has been called for Donald Trump and it looks like he would receive all five electoral vote based on projections.

Here is a look at how Nebraska decides its electoral votes.

How the Votes are Allocated: The Congressional District Method

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Donald Trump in Michigan. (Getty)

Nebraska has five electoral votes, as it has three Congressional districts and two Senators. Two of these electoral votes automatically go to the winner of the popular vote. The other three go to the winner of the popular vote within each district. So, for example, if Donald Trump wins at least two districts in Nebraska and loses the third, he would receive four votes. If Hillary Clinton wins only one district, she would receive one electoral vote. Although, if Clinton won the overall popular vote, but only lead in one congressional district, she would win three.

This is also the way Maine allocates electoral votes.

As 270towin.com points out, since the system was adapted by both states, there has only been one occasion where either of them split the vote. In 2008, Barack Obama won the most votes in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Omaha and its suburbs. So in that election, John McCain received four of Nebraska’s votes and Obama received one. Maine has never split its votes.

Both Maine and Nebraska moved to this system fairly recently. Maine adopted the system in 1972 and Nebraska has only been using the system since 1996.

As the Washington Post noted in 2013, state legislatures in Virginia, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania were also considering changing how their electoral votes are allocated to be by congressional district instead of winner-take-all. However, those proposals were never enacted, so Maine and Nebraska are the only ones following it in 2016.

There were attempts by the Republican-controlled state legislature to go back to a winner-take-all system in Nebraska after Obama won the 2nd Congressional District vote, but that didn’t come to pass.

Could Hillary Clinton Win Nebraska’s Second Congressional District Like Obama?

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Hillary Clinton campaigning in Omaha in December 2015. (Getty)

Ten days after the 2008 Presidential Election ended, CBC News finally called Nebraska’s Second Congressional District for Obama, who won 3,325 more votes there than McCain. While Mitt Romney won all five of Nebraska’s electoral votes in 2012, Clinton showed signs of campaigning to get a single vote out of Nebraska.

In July, Clinton campaigned in Nebraska with a rally in Omaha. As the Washington Post noted, it was the first time since 1936 that a Democrat campaigned in the state. That year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for re-election. However, since FDR won the state in 1936, the only other time all of Nebraska’s electoral votes went to a Democrat was in 1964.

This did not deter the Clinton campaign. In fact, on November 4, Clinton sent Bernie Sanders to campaign for her in Omaha. It’s also been reported that Clinton supporter Warren Buffett is driving voters to polls in Omaha.

However, Clinton’s campaigning in Nebraska might be all for naught. An Emerson poll from September 28 showed Trump with a 9-point lead in the state’s second congressional district.

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