While it is not completely true that West Omaha is the area of the upper middle class citizens of Douglas County, it is a good enough starting point. I arbitrarily made a decision to divide Millard from West Omaha at 160th St and separated Northwest Omaha from West Omaha inbetween Pacific and Dodge St. So what can we figure out by the way they voted?
For the Presidential share of the vote, we have the following with 24,631 votes cast in this region:
|Number of votes||14,361||8,920||1,159||191|
|% of votes cast||58.3||36.2||4.7||0.8|
There were a number of people in West Omaha who could not vote for Trump or Clinton but managed to find their way to vote for Congress. Based on the numbers that we are going to see in the next table, it seems fairly clear that the people unable to vote for one of the Presidential candidates, they were less likely to be able to vote for Donald Trump.
There were 24,850 votes cast for the three candidates for Congress.
|Number of votes||15,266||8,994||590|
|% of votes cast||61.4||36.2||2.4|
Trump was simply unacceptable to nearly 1,000 voters in West Omaha. That’s certainly not enough to be able to win the district for Hillary Clinton or make a dent in the statewide race. But it’s enough to give us a starting point to how to make West Omaha more competitive. Ashford was unable to run too far ahead of Clinton’s numbers only netting about 75 votes over her, despite her seeming unpopularity.
What could Ashford or another Democratic challenger do to be able to make this area of Omaha more competitive? Why is Trump unacceptable for nearly 1,000 voters but they can turn around and vote for a Republican who deleted his press release where he denounced him?
This is where we need to look at individual precincts to see what we can do and if there’s any hope going forward.
Overperformance of Bacon
In nearly all of the precincts in West Omaha, Don Bacon ran ahead of Donald Trump by more than 2 points (15 out of 21 precincts). Bacon ran ahead of Trump by more than 3 points in 12 of 21 precincts. In 4 of these precincts, Bacon was able to run ahead of Trump by 5 points. Let’s look them, shall we?
08-31: This precinct is roughly located from 174th-180th L-Center. This was not the best precinct for Trump. Out of 766 votes in the precinct, this is what we have.
|# of votes cast||407||299||56||4|
|% of votes cast||53.1||39.0||7.3||0.5|
While the voters here didn’t skip the Presidential election or write in a candidate (for the most part), they did voice their displeasure by voting for Gary Johnson, it would appear. There were 772 votes cast for the three candidates running for Congress. This is how they shook out with the net votes compared to their respective Presidential candidate.
This still looks like a fairly heavily Republican area. Don Bacon managed to get 59.46% of the vote for Congress and Ashford was unable to crack the 40% mark.
Even on the referendum, nearly 60% of voters in the precinct wanted to reinstate the penalty. 40% of the voters wanted to keep the repeal the death penalty.
But there was some hope and why I think this area may be prime for targeting. State Senator Rick Kolowski. Kolowski is the former principal for Millard West High School and has primarily focused on building relationships throughout his legislative district. He consistently outperformed the expected numbers in his legislative district. I hope to have a meeting with him and his staff soon, which will make me sound like a gushing fanboy.
Kolowski supported Nebraska’s ENDA; he supported the repeal of the death penalty; he supported giving professional licenses to immigrants affected by DACA. He ran against a candidate that was more or less hand-picked by the Republican establishment, Ian Swanson. Swanson was endorsed by Lee Terry, Pete Ricketts, if you can name a Republican, he supported Ian Swanson.
Swanson’s campaign was very similar to what you would consider from a Republican trying to run in a Conservative area. I wrote more about his website and campaign somewhere else. Swanson’s ideological differences between Bacon are infinitely small. Kolowski and Ashford are also kindred moderate spirits.
Kolowski won 57.7% of the vote in the precinct over Swanson’s 42.3%.
How did Kolowski do it? I’d like to meet with his staff before I write a definitive account but I have an idea. In politics, as in life, we often use heuristics to make sense of our world. When we look at the ballot, we see that someone has our preferred political party next to their name and we are more likely to vote for them. We see that another politician is with a different political party, we begin to demonize him or her.
All of a sudden, we don’t really care what their ideas are. If they are aligned with the correct political party, it does not really matter if they do not seem like a good person for the most part. As you discover their political party or their policy beliefs your opinion of them might change. But if you have developed a relationship with them or if you have strong bonds with them, it does not change very much. All of a sudden you are voting for that person instead of voting for a party.
Kolowski’s strength, in my opinion, is based around the idea that he is able to build relationships with people. They don’t see themselves as voting for a moderate Democrat but for Rick Kolowski, their kids’ former principal or neighbor.
08-37: This is one of my favorite precincts in all of Douglas County. So is 08-31, to be honest. This precinct is roughly 174th-180th St Harrison-Q.
|# of votes||613||437||57||7|
|% of votes cast||55.0%||39.2%||5.1%||0.6%|
There were a number of people who could not pull themselves to vote for Trump on Election Day. There were 1,114 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates. There were 1,125 votes cast for the three candidates for Congress. Bacon was able to get a larger vote total than Trump
Bacon was able to consolidate a number of the voters who voted Johnson as part of some form of protest and a number of what I assume are Republican leaning voters who voted Clinton.
But this is another area that Democrats could target with relationship building. This is another Kolowski precinct. Kolowski was able to win the precinct with 647 votes garnering more votes than Trump and fairly close to Don Bacon’s vote total.
08-35: This precinct is located roughly on 156th-163rd St and Y St – Q St. This is yet another precinct that Trump underperformed what you would think. There was not a lot of votes cast in this precinct, 482 for the four Presidential candidates.
|# of votes||250||189||34||9|
|% of votes cast||51.9%||39.2%||7.1%||1.9%|
Again, what we see is Trump being unacceptable but Bacon able to pick up the struggling Republicans who could not find it in themselves to vote for Trump. With 480 votes cast for the three Congressional candidates, we have the following net votes:
And this is the third Kolowski precinct that we’re looking at. There were 430 votes cast in the Legislative race. Kolowski was able to receive 247 votes or 57.4% of the votes cast in the race defeating Swanson 57.4-42.6.
This is also on the list of potential targets where new votes can come from.
05-20: This precinct is different than the rest of the ones that we looked at for a couple of reasons. It’s more North and West of the other 3 precincts. It’s located from 180th – 192nd St and B-Cedar. First, this is not an area where Trump really struggled. There were 1,143 votes cast for the four Presidential candidates.
|# of votes cast||750||355||36||2|
|% of votes cast||65.6%||31.1%||3.1%||0.2%|
While Trump was very successful in this precinct, there were still a few voters who couldn’t find it in theirselves to be able to vote for Trump. There were 1,138 votes for the Congressional candidates in this precinct.
Bacon was still able to convince a number of voters to vote for him instead of voting for Trump. Second, this is not a Rick Kolowski precinct. Lou Ann Linehan, a Republican, defeated Bill Armbrust, a Democrat 62.8% – 37.2% in the precinct. That’s with a number of voters not voting in the state legislature race. The area is still very conservative but even then we see that there are a number of voters who could not vote for Trump for President.
If we are serious about reaching new voters, we have to figure out why voters were willing to not vote for Trump on the Presidential line but vote for candidates who supported them in all other ways.