19 December 2011

Rank 41 / 11: Nebraska


Results of the last 6 presidential cycles:

YearRankWinning %% MarginPart. ValueSwing“National SwingTrend
200841 / 1156.53%+14.93%+22.19%-18.29%+9.72%+8.57
200448 / 0465.90%+33.22%+30.76%+4.23%+2.98%+1.25
200047 / 0562.25%+28.99%+29.51%+10.29%+8.00%+2.29
199650 / 0253.65%+18.70%+27.22%+1.52%+2.96%+3.48
199250 / 0246.58%+17.18%+22.74%-3.78%+13.29%+9.51
198843 / 0960.15%+20.96%+13.23%-20.78%-10.49%+10.29

Blue shading = DEM pick-up over the cycle before.
Red shading = GOP pick-up over the cycle before.
Purple shading = Electors split:
 4 R / 1 D

Nebraska margin average, 1988-2008 (6 cycles): GOP +22.33% 

Within the summary is an analysis of the swings and trend values in NE over the last six cycles.


NE county-by-county EXCEL spreadsheet
(raw totals for 2008 and 2004, margins, swings, % of state PV, county growth rate)

The partisan rankings for Ranking 41 (NE) from 2008 backwards in history to 1964 in Table-format (highlighted in yellow):

The partisan rankings for Ranking 40 (KS) and Ranking 41 (NE) from 2008 backwards in history to 1964 in Table-format (highlighted in yellow):


Helpful Info LinksHelpful Election Links
NE WIKIComplete NE electoral raw data (Presidential)
NE Census InformationNE county-by-county EXCEL spreadsheet
NE Census Profile mapNE VR and election stats - 2000-2010
NE population 2008: 1,178,432----
NE Population Density: 9.0 persons per sq. Km.---
Electoral Vote Density: 356,686 persons per EV.---

NE ELECTORAL DEVELOPMENT (electors through history) : 3 (1868-1880) 5 (1884-1888), 8 (1892-1928), 7 (1932-1940) 6 (1944-1960), 5 EV (1964-present).


Nebraska is the 11th most conservative state and the 41st most liberal state, with a Republican winning margin of +14.93% and having voted 22.19% more Republican than the national margin in 2008.

Nebraska was the 4th most conservative state and the 48th most liberal state in 2004, with a Republican winning margin of +33.22% and having voted 30.76% more Republican than the national margin in that year.

Nebraska was the 5th most conservative state and the 47th most liberal state in 2000, with a Republican winning margin of +28.99% and having voted 29.51% more Republican than the national margin in that year.

In its entire electoral history, from 1868-present, Nebraska went went for the GOP 
29 times, for the DEMS 7 times.

From 1904 - 2008, Nebraska went for the GOP 
21 times, for the DEMS 6 times.

Since 1948, Nebraska went for the GOP 
15 times, for the DEMS 1 time.

Since 1960, Nebraska went for the GOP 
12 times, for theDEMS 1 time.

The area formerly known as the „Nebraska Territory“ officially became the 37th state of the Union on March 1, 1867 and was the first state to be admitted to the Union in the post-Civil War era. The 16th largest state in the Union by area, but the 38 th largest by population, Nebraska has shown parallel demographic and political growth in its history to the neighboring state of Kansas.

Nebraska has had an overwhelmingly Republican voting record, having selected the Republican candidate for 29 of the 36 cycles in which Nebraska has voted. Though VT has gone Republican 33 times and holds the record for the longest GOP streak (27 cycles from 1856-1960), NE, along with 8 other states, has the longest current running Republican voting record: KS, NE, SD, ND, WY, ID, UT, OK and AK have all voted GOP for 11 consecutive cycles since 1968. Every single one of these states was captured in the Johson (D) landslide of 1964 – had that not happened, then NE would have had 18 consecutive cycles, all the way back through 1940. I call these states that have gone 11 straight cycles for the GOP „The 11ers“ and most likely, every single one of those states will become a „12er“ after 2012. Two states are not on that list, but both were „10er“s from 2004: IN and VA, both of which Obama picked-up in 2008. Here is a table of those 9 states:

9 Conservative States: “The 11ers”

YearKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaWyomingIdahoUtahOklahomaAlaska











STATS30 R/ 6 D / 1 Ind29 R / 7 D25 R / 4 D /
24 R / 5 D /
22 R / 8 D19 R / 10 D / 1 IND21 R / 8 D16 R / 10 D12 R / 1 D

Four of these GOP bastions have absolutely identical voting records from 1920 through 2008: KS, NE and both Dakotas. All four of these states have 20 R / 3 D voting records. WY, ID, UT and OK have more Democratic voting records in the 1940s. AK first participated in 1960, so no real comparison outside of the „11er“ category is possible.

Now, to Nebraska alone: from the very start, just four years after KS first participated in the Electoral College, NE established itself to be a core Republican state and gave Ulysses S. Grant a massive 
+27.81% margin win in 1868, followed by an absolute blowout win of +41.36%a record that would first be broken by Ronald Reagan 116 years later! Similar but not exactly parallel to neighboring KS, which experienced ever narrowing margins through 1888, the margins in NE stayed enormous and then jumped into the teens in 1884.

In the contentious Hayes-Tilden electoral backfire of 1876, NE gave Hayes a 
+35.30% blowout margin. James Garfield was rewarded with a similar +30.25% in 1880. That margin was almost halved in 1884, as Republican challenger James Blaine, the first Republican to lose a general election since 1856, garnered „only“ +16.78% margin in Nebraska. Four years later, Benjamin Harrison, who would unseat incumbent Democrat Grover Cleveland, won the state with a similar +13.76% margin.

The real kicker happened four years later, as former President Cleveland unseated the current incumbent, Benjamin Harrison nationally, but was crowded out of second place in NE by James Weaver and the Populist Party (which was on the ballot in NE as the „People's Independent Party“ and on the ballot in KS as „People's and Democratic Party"). Incumbent Harrison, who lost the GE, retained NE with a narrow 
+2.04% margin over Weaver, but Cleveland (D) only received 12.46% in the Cornhusker State that year! Harrison's +2.04% margin is also the second narrowest margin in the state's history, which, like KS, is not known for many single-digit margins.

1896 was the first year in which a Democrat finally won Nebraska: William Jennings Bryan (D), the „Silver Tongued Orator“ from neighboring Colorado, took Nebraska with 
51.53% of the popular vote a lean +5.35% margin. The margin and the percentages in NE from this year look pretty much like a mirror-image of the national results, where Republican William McKinley from Ohio won with 51.02% in the national vote an a +4.31% national margin. In 1900, with the same two candidates facing each other, McKinley turned the tables and returned NE to the GOP, also with a narrow +3.24%. So, NE went through a period of 3 cycles with narrow single-margin wins. This is the only such period in the state's history.

NE loved Teddy Roosevelt and gave him the largest win since 1872, a 
+37.95% margin and 61.38% of the vote. It would take 48 years for a Republican to top his statistic (Eisenhower, 1952).

One of the most fascinating „outliers“ in NE's electoral history and the one moment that separated it's electoral history ever so slightly from KS is 1908. NE was not really hot about Howard Taft and was one of three western states -alongside CO and NV - to defect from the massive Teddy Roosevelt coalition from 1904 
and select Democrat William Jennings Bryan with a record setting squeaker margin of +1.34% in his third and final presidential run. So, the first Democrat to win NE two times was Bryan, only the wins weren't consecutive.

In both 1912 and 1916, Woodrow Wilson carried NE. He was the first Democratic president in history to win the state and the second of three Democratic candidates to win NE twice (see: Bryan, FDR); his win from 1912 in a three man race was a minority win with 
43.69% of the PV and a +14.56% margin, almost perfectly in sync with his national +14.44% margin. Teddy Roosevelt, as a Bull-Mooser, upturned incumbent Taft and took second place in NE in 1912, with 29.13% of the vote, but he still lost to Wilson. In 1916, Wilson's margin was ever so slightly reduced to +14.29%, but it was still a landslide majority win in a traditionally very Republican state and in the only re-election in our history where the incumbent won, but by a much smaller margin nationally in both the vote and in the EC. So, the actual TREND in NE shot sky-high for the Democratic party in 1916, despite the outer appearance of being pretty much the same as in 1912.

In the roaring 20s, NE went with the national GOP wave and rewarded Harding, Coolidge and Hoover with ever increasing margins of 
+33.41% (1920), +17.51% (1924) and +27.01% (1928).

Unlike VT and ME in the northeast, NE was not able to resist the FDR landslide in 1932: Roosevelt won with 
62.98% of the PV and a crushing +27.70% margin. Fascinating is that the statewide margins from 1928 to 1932 (+27.01% for Hoover, 27.70% for Roosevelt) were almost perfect mirror images of each other and at that same time, nationally, those margins (+17.42% for Hoover, +17.46% for Roosevelt) were also almost perfect mirror images of each other, only 10 points less in each case. This means that NE swung 20% wider and harder than the rest of the nation in 1932: 54.71% of the state shifted teams from 1928 to 1932. Unlike KS, which gave FDR a begrudging single-digit win, NE went full-out for the pipe smoker from Hyde Park. In 1936, the opposite played out: while the nation moved to a +24.25% margin for incumbent FDR, NE fell to a +16.40% margin, still a landslide, no doubt. And also no doubt that the Governor of neighboring KS, who was the hapless GOP candidate against Roosevelt, received some sympathy from Nebraskans.

However, in 1940, alongside a number of traditionally GOP states, NE returned to the Republican column and went to Wilkie (
+14.37%, almost identical to the margin in KS) in 1940 and for Dewey (+17.16%) in 1944. NE picked Dewey again in 1948 against Truman, but by a far lesser margin of +8.31%. This was a common phenomenon with Truman: he actually showed more strength than FDR in the West, 1948 compared to 1944, in spite of a lesser margin than FDR's last election.

Though Eisenhower was a son of Texas, Nebraska treated him as a favorite son. The Eisenhower – Nixon margins in NE make for a sort of mirror image of each other, just as they did in KS. This is a really fascinating statistic:

1952 (Eisenhower / Nixon): 
+38.31% (+38.37% in KS)
1956 (Eisenhower / Nixon): 
+31.03% (+31.23% in KS)
1960 (Nixon / Lodge) : 
+24.14% (+21.35% in KS)
1968 (Nixon / Agnew): 
+28.01% (+20.13% in KS)
1972 (Nixon / Agnew): 
+41.00% (+38.15% in KS)

In 1972, Nixon finished where Eisenhower began.

The interruption between was, of course, Lyndon Baines Johnson, whose historic landslide captured the entire nation outside 5 states in the South and Goldwater's AZ. Johnson took NE for the Democrats with 
+5.21% (it was +9.03% in KS), slightly under FDR's 1932 margin. LBJ was the 7th and last Democrat to ever win in NE.

Looking back to the margins from 1952 through 1972, we can literally spot the year in which NE, which had traditionally gone a little less Republican than neighboring KS, suddenly switched into the leader position between those two states: the year1960, and from there on, NE has always had deeper red margins than KS.

Whereas Southern Democrat Jimmy Carter made the race in KS closer than most people thought possible, in NE it was a rout against Carter and for Ford, who easily won the Cornhusker State with 
+20.74% margin.

NE loved Ronald Reagan (neither Carter nor Mondale campaigned in NE) and gave him 
+39.49% and +41.74% margins, respectively. The margin from 1984 broke the record set by Ulysses Grant way back in 1872!

The last six cycles were already represented in the table at the beginning of the analysis, but in a nutshell: George W. Bush, Sr won NE both times, but with ever decreasing margins: +20.96% (
+13.23% in KS, to compare) in 1988 and +17.18% (+5.14% in KS, to compare) in a three man race against Bill Clinton (D) and Ross Perot (Ind). Bush, Sr. fared fare better in NE in 1992 than he did in KS, but 1992 was still a minority win for the GOP and the only Republican minority win in NE's electoral history.

In 1996, NE rewarded Bob Dole with a majority win of 
53.65% (54.29% in KS, to compare) and a +18.70% margin (+18.21% for Dole's home state of KS). This margin is comparatively lean compared to the Eisenhower and Nixon margins from the past, but still a large landslide, on the order to Obama's win in Washington State.

In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush handily won NE with massive and stabile margins of 
+28.99% (+20.80% in KS) and +33.22% (+25.38% in KS), respectively. Percentually, he came over 65%, just as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did in their second terms.

John McCain's win in NE was with a reduced margin of 
+14.93% is the 24th largest or the 5th leanest GOP win in NE history and you have to go back to 1948 to find a margin leaner than his from 2008 It is also:

-the fourth time in a row where the state suddenly went for the GOP with a leaner margin in what was or would have been a 3rd GOP term in office: 1960 (after 2 Term Eisenhower), 1976 (after 2 Term Nixon), 1988 (after 2 Term Reagan), 2008 (after 2 term Bush).

-Obama's losing percentage in NE (
41.55%) sets no records, but comes statistically close to FDR's loss in this state in 1940.

- and interesting study in a 4th party vote: 2008 showed a pretty even spread in the 4 th party „protest“ vote: Nader got 
0.67%, Barr (Libertarian) got 0.37% and Baldwin (Reform Party – Perot) got 0.34% (these statistics are eerily close to KS). Had the Nader vote gone for Obama and the Barr and Baldwin vote gone for McCain, then the winning margin would have barely budged.

- the only time in NE's history where the Electors were split between the two candidates: Obama won NE-02 (Omaha), which probably explains the extreme downward shift in the statistics in NE from 2004 to 2008. Therefore, McCain got 4 Electors, Obama got 1. There have been bills on the shelf in the Nebraska Legislature (the only unicameral legislature in the USA) to kill the Elector Splitting law, but until now, the bills have died in conference, in spite of a Republian majority in the State Legislature.

Nebraska and Kansas

Of all the states in the Union, no two states came as close to each other in winning margin as did Nebraska and Kansas. McCain won NE by 
+14.93% and he won NE by +14.92%. That is a difference of just 0.01% in margin. These two neighbor states have a common voting record that goes back father than any other of the „11ers“ mentioned above: from 1912 through 2008, both states have identical records for 26 cycles in a row. That is the longest consecutive voting record of any two states in the Union, ever. Not even North and South Dakota have such a long common voting record. Here is a table comparing the last six cycles between NE and KS, in posting 4. This table was also provided in the Kansas analysis.

From the table and also from the partisan rankings chart in posting three, we can see that NE has the slightly more conservative voting record all along. In 5 of 6 cases, the winning percentage and the winning percentage margin was larger in NE. 1996 (Bob Dole) is the exception, since KS was his home state. Notice also that except for 2000, both states have trended in the same direction and the difference in trends is pretty evenly split. In 2008, we see that NE trended far more strongly Democratic than KS, because NE had faller to fall, so to speak, from 2004.

In the partisan rankings since 1964 (posting number 3), we see that NE has always been lower on the table than KS, meaning slightly closer to conservative ranking number 1 than NE, but not much more. Both states, excepting KS in 1988, have been within the top 12 most conservative states. KS has been between rankings 10 -12 for 8 cycles, whereas NE has been between rankings 2-4 for 6 cycles and was the most conservative state in the Union in 1968. Interestingly enough, these two states were closest to each other in the partisan rankings in during the two largest Democratic two-man race wins since 1964: 1964 and 2008. In 1964, it was KS 41/11 and NE 43 / 09 and in 2008 it was KS 40 / 12 and NE 41 / 11.

Comparison, KS and NE:

RankWinning %% MarginPart. ValueSwing“National SwingTrend
2008KS40 / 1256.48%+14.92%+22.18%-10.46%+9.72%+0.74

NE41 / 1156.53%+14.93%+22.19%-18.29%+9.72%+8.57
1NE +0.05NE +0.01NE +0.01KS +7.83---NE +7.83

2004KS43 / 0962.00%+25.38%+22.92%+4.58%+2.98%+1.60

NE48 / 0465.90%+33.22%+30.76%+4.23%+2.98%+1.25
5NE +3.90NE +7.84NE +7.84KS +0.35---NE +0.35

2000KS41 / 1158.04%+20.80%+21.32%+2.59%+8.00%+5.41

NE47 / 0562.25%+28.99%+29.51%+10.29%+8.00%+2.29
6NE +4.21NE +8.19NE +8.19NE -7.70---NE +7.70

1996KS48 / 0454.28%+18.21%+26.73%+13.07%+2.96%+16.03

NE50 / 0253.65%+18.70%+27.22%+1.52%+2.96%+3.48
2KS +0.63NE +0.49NE +0.49KS +11.55---KS +11.55

1992KS40 / 1238.88%+5.14%+10.70%-8.09%+13.29%+5.20

NE50 / 0246.58%+17.18%+22.74%-3.78%+13.29%+9.51
10NE +7.70NE +12.04NE +12.04NE +4.31---NE +4.31

1988KS31 / 2155.79%+13.23%+5.50%-20.44%-10.49%+9.95

NE43 / 0960.15%+20.96%+13.23%-20.78%-10.49%+10.29
12NE +4.36NE +7.73NE +7.73KS +0.34---NE +0.34

Important details about NE:


-Since NE's entrance into the Electoral College, every Republican President except McKinley (1896) and Taft (1908 and 1912) has won NE: Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, McKinley (1900), T. Roosevelt, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover (1928, not 1932), Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43.

-One 1-Term Republican lost NE as a pick-up to the Democratic Party in his failed re-election attempt: Hoover (1932)

-One 1-Term Republican lost NE both times: Taft (1908, 1912)


-Only three Democratic Presidents in history have won NE: Wilson (2 times), FDR (2 times), LBJ

-Only one Democratic challenger who lost the GE won NE, but he won it twice: Bryan (1896, 1908)


No independent candidate has ever won NE.

Based on its voting record, NE is not bellwether state, having missed the Electoral College winner in 9 of the last 27 cycles and having missed the PV winner in 10 of the last 27 cycles, and more recently, it has missed the Electoral College winner 5 times since 1960 and the PV winner 6 times since 1960.

Can NE become a battleground in 2012?

Most likely not. The continuing conservative trends in this state make it very unlikely that it could become a battleground. Even in a possible three-man race it would be likely that the GOP would score a majority win in this breadbasket state. But the possibility of Obama winning the newly organized NE-01, which used to be NE-02, is still around 50-50.

NE SuperlativesYEARCandidateWinning %Winning margin
IND1892Weaver41.53%Largest IND %, not a win

All-time "squeaker"1908Bryan49.14%+1.54%

In Nebraska, the Governor, Lt. Governor, 1 Senator and all 3 US Representatives are Republicans. The other Senator is a Democrat In the 
Nebraska Legislature, which is a unicameral body and the only one of its type in the USA, also officially non-partisan, the Republicans have a 34-15 hypermajority.

in 2007, I wrote„Nebraska is one of the safest Republican "firewall"-states. „

Facit 2011: Nebraska is a safe Republican "firewall"-state. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Constructive comments and critique are always welcome. Please keep it polite and respectful.