Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska
President Trump on Tuesday campaigned in traditionally red Nebraska, capping off a day of three campaign rallies in states he won in 2016 but where he now finds himself on defense.
The stop doubled as an opportunity to boost the president’s prospects in neighboring Iowa, as well as Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who is among the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection.
“I heard you’re doing very well. I just saw some very nice numbers,” Trump said of Ernst.
Trump polled the crowd early, and an overwhelming majority indicated they hailed from Nebraska, prompting the president to promise he would visit Iowa before Election Day.
The president expressed confidence in his standing in Nebraska, even suggesting Tuesday’s rally was unnecessary.
“I mean, in theory, I didn’t really have to be here, but it’s nice to be with your friends, too,” Trump said.
“Joe Biden doesn’t even respect you enough to campaign — he never came here, right? Did he come here? Oh, alright so that’s the end of that,” Trump said, feigning a walk off the stage to suggest his work in Omaha was done.
But the president’s standing in Nebraska, and in particular in the 2nd Congressional District where Omaha is located, is more precarious.
Nebraska awards five electoral votes total: two to the overall winner of the state, and one each to the winner of each the three congressional districts.
Trump’s trip to Nebraska is an unusual one with just a week left until Election Day and reflects the extent to which the president is on defense. The president won the state of Nebraska by more than 200,000 votes in 2016, and he also carried the state’s 2nd Congressional District and its single electoral vote.
Polls have shown Trump is still a favorite to carry the state, but Biden appears to be a slight favorite in the 2nd District. A New York Times/Siena College poll from late September showed Biden ahead in the district by 7 percentage points, while a poll conducted for the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC showed the former vice president leading by 11 percentage points.
The district’s lone electoral vote could loom large in a close race to 270, and it could have a ripple effect down the ballot. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) represents Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District and has been pulled into a tough reelection fight in large part because of Trump’s unpopularity in the area.
Bacon was in attendance at Tuesday’s rally and earned a shoutout from Trump. The crowd broke into loud chants of “Bacon,” catching the president by surprise.
“I like him too, but I don’t know if I like him that much,” Trump said. “I’ll tell you, you better get me Omaha.”
Bacon appears to be faring better than the president, however. The same New York Times/Siena College poll in late September showed Bacon leading Democratic candidate Kara Eastman by 2 percentage points.
Trump delivered remarks on the coronavirus similar to those he gave in Wisconsin and Michigan earlier in the day, insisting the country was “rounding the turn” in the fight against the pandemic and complaining that the media is giving too much attention to the public health crisis that has killed more than 226,000 Americans. Nebraska is among several states dealing with strained hospital capacity due to increases in virus cases.
The president did not directly mention Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who unloaded on Trump in a call with constituents earlier this month, but took a swipe at the senator when he recognized Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) in the crowd.
“She is my favorite senator from the state of Nebraska, by far. By far,” Trump said. “She’s fantastic.”