Nebraska Revisiting Split Electoral College Rules

January 31, 2015

Nebraska is again looking to revisit its electoral college allocation rules, the New York Times reports.  Nebraska is one of only two states that does not award its electoral votes on a winner take all basis.  Both Nebraska and Maine award two electoral votes to the popular vote winner, with one electoral vote being allocated based on the popular vote in each individual congressional district.  There are 3 such districts in Nebraska and 2 in Maine, yielding 5 and 4 total electoral votes, respectively.

Only once has this resulted in an outcome different than winner take all. In 2008, Barack Obama won Nebraska's 2nd congressional district, encompassing the Omaha area.  Thus, despite the fact that John McCain won the state by 14%, he won only 4 of the 5 electoral votes in that state.  

Republicans, unhappy with that, want to change the rules.  The current composition of the state legislature, and a pending election season, have added impetus to the effort.

Interestingly, redistricting after the 2010 census made the 2nd district more Republican, making it less likely that the electoral vote would be won by a Democrat in the future. If there was to be an electoral split in 2016, it is perhaps more likely (although still unlikely) that it would come via a Republican winning Maine's mostly rural 2nd district.

For more on the implications of moving from winner take all, see our feature Gaming the Electoral College.

 

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