A few days ago, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com made a very interesting observation about how the Presidential election might unfold in a state that is sure to be carried by Republican nominee John McCain.
Nebraska is one of two states - Maine is the other - that allocate their electoral votes by congressional district. That is, the statewide winner receives two electoral votes, and then the winner in each congressional district receives one vote. (The other forty-eight states, of course, award their electoral votes to the statewide winner on a winner-take-all basis.)
Nebraska has in the past always awarded all five of its electoral votes to the same Presidential candidate - usually the Republican. This year, things might be different. Apparently, according to Silver, Democratic nominee Barack Obama is competitive in Nebraska's Second Congressional District, which is Omaha - Nebraska's largest city - and its suburbs.
An Obama victory in this congressional district could have a decisive effect on this election. According to current state-by-state polling as tracked by Dave Leip, Sen. Obama would receive 264 electoral votes to Sen. McCain's 185 - with 89 tossup votes from six states - Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. If Obama were to win Nevada - with its five electoral votes - and McCain were to win the other five states, the candidates would be tied by 269 electoral votes apiece...unless Obama were also to win the single electoral vote represented by Omaha and its suburbs. In this case, Sen. Barack Obama would win the Presidency with the absolute minimum of 270 electoral votes.