Trump Throws Support Behind Push to Switch Nebraska to Winner-Take-All Elector System

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
April 3, 2024Politics
Trump Throws Support Behind Push to Switch Nebraska to Winner-Take-All Elector System
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Omaha, Neb., on Oct. 27, 2020. (Steve Pope/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump is cheering an effort, led by Republicans in Nebraska, to switch the state’s electoral college system to a purely winner-take-all contest.

Nebraska is currently one of two U.S. states that award some of their presidential electors to the winner of district-level contests, with Maine being the other state to follow a similar model. The 48 other states prefer a system where all presidential electors are awarded to the candidate who garners the most votes state-wide.

Last year, Republican Nebraska state Sen. Loren Lippincott introduced a bill, LB 764, that would move Nebraska back to a purely winner-take-all electoral college system.

Mr. Lippincott’s legislation now appears to be gaining momentum. On Tuesday, Republican Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen released a statement throwing his support behind LB 764, urging the state’s unicameral legislature to support its passage.

“I am a strong supporter of Senator Lippincott’s winner-take-all bill (LB 764) and have been from the start. It would bring Nebraska into line with 48 of our fellow states, better reflect the founders’ intent, and ensure our state speaks with one unified voice in presidential elections,” Mr. Pillen’s statement reads. “I call upon fellow Republicans in the Legislature to pass this bill to my desk so I can sign it into law.”

Nebraska’s legislature is officially nonpartisan, but Republicans comprise a majority of its members.

President Trump, the 2016 and 2020 Republican presidential nominee and prospective 2024 Republican nominee, also threw his support behind Nebraska’s efforts to adopt a winner-take-all electoral college system.

“Governor Jim Pillen of Nebraska, a very smart and popular Governor, who has done some really great things, came out today with a very strong letter in support of returning Nebraska’s Electoral Votes to a Winner-Take-All System. Most Nebraskans have wanted to go back to this system for a very long time, because it’s what 48 other States do—It’s what the Founders intended, and it’s right for Nebraska,” President Trump said in a post on his Truth Social account on Tuesday. “Thank you Governor for your bold leadership. Let’s hope the Senate does the right thing. Nebraskans, respectfully ask your Senators to support this Great Bill!”

Republicans Could Benefit From Reform

Under the U.S. electoral college system, states are given a number of electors equal to the number of U.S. Senators and House members from that state’s delegation. Senators are elected in state-wide contests, while House members are selected in district-level contests.

Nebraska’s electoral college method assigns two of its presidential electors based on the state-wide winner of the presidential election. Nebraska’s three remaining presidential electors are awarded in contests that take place within its three U.S. House districts.

Republican presidential candidates have historically won the majority of votes in state-wide contests in Nebraska. In fact, the Republican presidential candidate has won a clear majority of Nebraska voters in every presidential election since 1968.

While Republicans have historically been the clear favorite in Nebraska’s state-level contests, Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District has sometimes presented itself as more of a battleground. Republicans have swept all of Nebraska’s district-level elector contests in all but two presidential elections since 1968.

President Barack Obama won the presidential elector from Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District in the 2008 election, while Republican presidential candidate and senator John McCain won the state-wide contest and the district-level elector contests in Nebraska’s 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts.

Voters in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District swung back to the Republican presidential candidate in the 2012 and 2016 elections, allowing those Republicans to win a clean sweep of the state’s electors during those two presidential elections.

While President Trump swept all of Nebraska’s electoral contests in 2016, President Joe Biden won the electoral contest in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District during the 2020 election.

If Nebraska’s state-wide trend of support for Republican presidential candidates continues, and if Mr. Lippincott’s bill becomes law, Republican presidential candidates could expect to win an additional elector going forward.

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