A precinct level look at Douglas County

This is the meta post with all of the parts somewhat organized into one post that will be updated as I go forward. 

Since the election in November, I have been working intermittently on a project to look at how the various precincts in Omaha voted.  My goal was to try to find information that would help explain what I thought was going to be a certain defeat by Donald Trump in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.  I thought that in Douglas County (the main portion of the district), it would be around a 10,000 vote victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.  It ended up being around 6,000.  I thought with this lead, Rep. Brad Ashford would certainly get over a 10,000 vote to help get him re-elected.  He ended up getting around a 9,000 vote lead.  And I certainly thought “retain” would be closer than a 14,000 vote defeat in the county.  All of these stack on each other.  At the end of Election Day, the people and policies I had supported ended up losing, thanks in part to more conservative Sarpy County.  I wanted to know why.  This analysis and report has taken way too much of my time and has become an obsession of mine in the last few months.  I hope that it gives you some insights going forward.

What this isn’t is a replacement for actually meeting and talking with voters.  Rep. Brad Ashford lost his election by a little over 3,000 votes.  If 16 voters in each of the precincts in Douglas County switched their votes to Brad Ashford instead of Don Bacon, he would have won re-election.  That’s how close it was.  Hopefully, what this gives us is a blueprint going forward.  Hopefully, we find precincts or areas that we were ignoring, previously.


Douglas County for those not intimately aware has a number of distinct regions in it.  Separated by class and race, the county seems often that it is several distinct cities.  There are a few towns in Douglas County outside of Omaha but they don’t seem as different as North Omaha compared to West Omaha.  Omaha has been described as one of the most segregated cities in America.  The western part of the city resembles white flight.

South Omaha: South Omaha is typically defined by many in Omaha as being the more heavily Latino area of the city.  There is not a great definition of the region that is uniform in every person’s mind.  I think there is a very distinct difference between South Omaha, east of around 72nd St compared to what many people consider to be West of there.  I did go through the precincts that Tony Vargas and Mike McDonnell represent in the unicameral and included all of his precincts as South Omaha.  For the most part, for the city proper (outside of Elkhorn, Waterloo, and Valley), I will be using street line boundaries as best I can to define the area.

North Omaha: North Omaha is typically viewed as the black area of Omaha.  Again, there is not a uniform definition to explain what many mean when they refer to North Omaha.  I cut my boundaries around 48th St and East.  I went through and included the precincts that Ernie Chambers and Justin Wayne represent to include North Omaha.

Old Northwest Omaha: Thanks to the nature of Omaha and the annexation of many smaller towns for years, there are distinct regions throughout the city beyond the typical north-south boundary lines.  I drew the boundaries of Old Northwest Omaha from about 72nd and Maple – 108th Fort including the streets West and North inbetween.

Northwest Omaha: While it does not have a distinguishing racial or class breakdown, Northwest Omaha that we refer to now, seems very different than what we would look at when we refer to the Old Northwest Omaha.  West of 108th seems to refer to a different part of town, in my mind, at least.  This also goes to the boundary lines around Pacific.  So this extends 108th and Dodge – 180th and Maple encompassing the streets inbetween.

Millard: This is the large suburb in Douglas County.  There are some arguments over what Millard encompasses.  I include Millard from 96th and Harrison – 159th and Dodge, in my mind.  There is a bit of an overlap in the North area with Northwest Omaha.  Some parts of Millard are in the lower middle class to the upper extremes of higher middle class.  While it does not necessarily follow, the area tends to get nicer as you go more West (towards the higher numbers).

West Omaha: I did kind of arbitrarily draw a line separating out Millard and what I consider West Omaha.  I see West Omaha as beginning at around 160th and going west to 192nd.  I believe it starts at Harrison and runs up to about Dodge.  You can certainly argue that parts of Northwest Omaha should be included in my definition of West Omaha and I wouldn’t argue too hard.  West Omaha is typically seen as the richer parts of Omaha and they are not wrong.

Midtown: I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good grasp of what people consider to be midtown.  I went through and added all of the precincts that Sara Howard represents in the unicameral.  I believe that midtown is around 48th-72nd L St – Maple St. But I’m open for more.

The rest of the towns and outlying areas like Ralston, Bennington, Elkhorn, Waterloo, and Valley have fairly set definitions.  I consider Elkhorn to be west of 192nd and north to Fort.  Waterloo is out Northwest there, as is Valley.  Bennington is North of Fort beginning around 156th in my mind.

I have Ralston on its defined boundaries – Precinct 08-01, 08-02, 08-05, and 08-06.

As I have said, outside of the outlying areas of Douglas County, I will try my best to give the street boundaries when I talk about a precinct, as best I can, to give people a visualization of where they are.

The Trump areas

For the most part, the areas of Douglas County that most heavily voted for Donald Trump are in the Western areas of Douglas County that are typically considered out of Omaha.  There are 33 precincts that gave 60% or more of the four party vote share. Of those 33, 26 are west of 160th St.  Of the other 7 precincts, only two are east of 108th St.

In these 33 precincts, 36,750 votes were cast for one of the four political parties running.  Here were the results:

  Republican Democratic Libertarian Green
Votes cast 23,630 11,397 1,466 257
% of votes 64.3% 31.0% 4.0% 0.7%


There were clearly areas of these 33 precincts that either did not feel comfortable voting for Donald Trump as President.  There were 262 more votes cast for Congress than for the Presidential candidate of one of the four parties.  Even more startling if you begin to look at it, is that that there were another 600 voters or so who came home from either the Libertarian Party or who crossed Presidential lines.  Somewhat surprising is that there were about 500 voters for Democrat Brad Ashford who did not vote for Hillary Clinton for President.  Perhaps this is not so surprising if you believe that these two Presidential candidates were the two most disliked candidates in history.

Here were the results of the precincts at the Congressional level.  There were 37,012 votes cast for the three parties running for Congress.

Republican Democratic Libertarian
Votes cast 24,234 11,875 903
% of votes cast 65.5% 32.1% 2.4%


Donald Trump was an outspoken supporter for the death penalty.  In Nebraska, we had a referendum on whether or not we should follow through with the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty or if we should reinstate the death penalty.  The language on the ballot was not confusing if you read through the referendum on the ballot but was slightly confusing to explain to someone who hadn’t looked at it.  Retain would be a vote to keep the repeal of the death penalty.  Repeal would reinstate the death penalty.

Retain Repeal
Votes cast 13,607 22,239
% of votes cast 38.0% 62.0%


These are all pretty high margins and seems unlikely to be able to be overcome in all of the precincts.  But, again, that is not my goal.  My goal is to simply cut margins where we can, even if it is as small as 16 votes/precinct. So we will look at individual precincts if there is a way for us to cut into the margin going forward.

Precincts where Trump outperformed Don Bacon

There are four precincts where Trump was able to outperform Republican Congressional candidate Don Bacon by 3 or more points in these precincts where he got 60% or more of the four party vote share.  They were with the difference in parentheses 08-41 (6.9); 08-09 (5.2); 08-40 (4.1); and 08-14 (3.6).

08-41: This is on the Northwest side of Douglas County.  I refer to it as Waterloo, even if it may be incorrect.  This would play on one of the more popular narratives that Trump was able to do extremely well in areas with more rural areas or areas that were out of the way of the typical suburban community and do well with white voters with lower education levels.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 791 274 40 6
% of votes cast 71.2% 24.7% 3.6% 0.5%


Trump was able to get a number of voters who crossed party lines to vote for him and then went back to vote for Ashford in the Congressional races.  There were 5 voters in this precinct who did not vote for one of the four parties running for President but voted for Congress:

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -74 +94 -7


So we need to figure out why so many of those voters went for Trump and then were able to vote for Ashford.  This may or not be repeatable without Trump on the ballot for the Democratic challenger in 2018 to replicate what Ashford was able to do.  It seems probable to me that the Trump/Ashford voters are on their way to shifting their allegiances from Democratic candidates to Republican.  The only problem with this idea is that Lou Ann Linehan, former chief of staff for Chuck Hagel, defeated Democratic candidate Bill Armbrust 54.05% – 45.95%.  Linehan ran slightly behind what she did in the rest of her legislative district in this precinct.  This is one of the precincts, in particular, where I would like more data to see the trends.

08-09:  This is one of the precincts that stick out like a sore thumb for the precincts that gave Trump so much of the four-party vote share.  This precinct is primarily located from 48th-72nd St and from Sargent-Northern Hills.  This is one of only two precincts with the majority of it east of 108th St.   This precinct only had 660 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 426 209 24 1
% of votes cast 64.5% 31.7% 3.6% 0.2%


There were only 3 voters who voted for one of those Presidential candidates who did not vote for Congress.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -36 +33 +1


Again, we have a precinct where Trump managed to convince a number of voters that voted for Ashford to vote for him in the Presidential portion of the ballot.  There is not a good explanation to this precinct.  Jill Brown, who is probably more liberal than Justin Wayne, won the precinct 54.86% -45.14% of the vote, even though there were only 53 less votes for legislature compared to the Presidential election.

08-40: I have this listed in my spreadsheet as Valley.  Valley was 95% white in the 2010 census.  22% of the residents of Valley have a bachelor’s degree or higher.  The unemployment rate in Valley is 3.8%.  The average of residents in Valley is just over 42 years old.  There were 1,407 votes cast in the Presidential election for one of the four candidates:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 986 363 49 9
% of votes cast 70.1 25.8 3.5 0.6


Again, we see voters choosing Trump at the Presidential level but reverting back to giving Ashford a vote at the Congressional level.

There were 1406 votes cast at the Congressional level in this precinct.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -58 +68 -2


With 179 votes being lost from the Presidential ballot to the Legislative ballot, Lou Ann Linehan won the precinct 54.72% – 45.28%.  Armbrust received nearly 200 more votes than Clinton did in this precinct.

08-14: In the Northwest area of Douglas County, if you go far enough North you reach Bennington.  And you run into this precinct.  This precinct is only a part of what I classify as Bennington.  There were 876 votes cast in this precinct for the four party Presidential vote.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
Votes 582 252 36 6
% of votes cast 66.4% 28.8% 4.1% 0.7%


And again, what we see is Trump was able to convince a number of voters to choose him and allow them to vote for Ashford at the Congressional level.  With 1 more vote cast at the Congressional level than with the four party Presidential ballot, we see just how successful Trump was able to be over Bacon.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -31 +42 -4


A somewhat conclusion of the Trump precincts

I’ll be honest about what I thought I was going to find.  I thought what I was going to find was that the Trump voters simply did not show up to vote at the Congressional level and that was what was causing him to overperform relative to Bacon’s numbers or even Linehan’s numbers.  I was also expecting a small swing of voters deciding to vote for Trump/Laird.

But that is not what we’re seeing.  We’re seeing a number of Trump voters deciding that they didn’t want to vote for Bacon in Congress and wanted to support Ashford.  This can be true for a number of reasons.  My guess is that there is not an insignificant amount of voters who simply wanted a split ballot.  They could not pull the ballot trigger for Clinton but did not think that the Republicans should pick up a seat there.

I think there are some voters out there who were upset about voting for Clinton and seeing that they are in a roughly safe area to vote, decided that they could vote for Trump and then Ashford.   But I do not know this for certain.

One of the more likely explanations is that Trump was able to connect at some level with these voters who may have lower education and are white in a way that Clinton was not able to.  The reasons may range from they think Trump is a secret liberal, they want a crackdown on immigration, they believe he will get things done, or simple dislike for Clinton.

The organizing principle of the Democratic Party is that we are all in this together.  The goal should be to engage these voters.  They may range from slightly misinformed to openly hostile to Democratic principles.  But we do owe it to ourselves to see if they can be reached.  Cutting into margins in areas where we performed the worst at the Presidential level can provide significant results.  A number of these voters are willing to vote for Democratic policies and we must figure out why, if we want to remain competitive.

One thing I will reiterate throughout this series is the need for positive engagement with voters in every area by the Democratic Party and staff.  We need to be going out into these communities and figure out why they can reconcile a vote for Trump/Ashford.  And what we can do to vote Democratic on each line.  But more importantly, we need to engage them to figure out what is important to them and highlight how we either have the best solution to the problem or how we are working on it.

West Omaha

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:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
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.

Bacon Ashford Laird
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.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# 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.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +52 +2 -44


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.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# 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 Ashford Laird
Net votes +76 -22 -36


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.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# 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:


Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +26 -6 -13


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.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# 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 Ashford Laird
Net votes +54 -35 -22


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.


There is a town in Douglas County that is surrounded on most sides by Omaha located around 72nd and Harrison St.  This town is Ralston.  The median household income in 2015 was $57,453.  The median gross rent was $772 and the mean price of housing units was $171,015.  From the census bureau, 85% of the town is white.  10% of the population is Hispanic and 2% of the Ralston population is black.  For the population of Ralston that is 25 or older, 29% of the population has a Bachelor’s Degree or higher and nearly 88% of the population has high school education or higher.  The unemployment rate in the town is 2.5%.

There are six precincts in the town.  Donald Trump won all six of the precincts.  Gary Johnson got considerable support in the town.  In three of the precincts, we have a very close election between Trump and Clinton. Here are the totals for the town for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Green
# of votes cast 1484 1233 158 24
% of votes 51.2 42.5 5.5 0.8


Like most of the precincts that we’ve looked at, there are more people voting for the three Congressional candidates over the Presidential candidates.  This seems odd, since in general, there are more votes for President than there are for Congress.  This is typically true, even if we exclude write-in votes, like we are doing here.

There were 2937 votes cast for one of the three candidates running for Congress compared to 2899 votes cast for the four presidential candidates.  Here is how they voted with the net votes for the Congressional candidates compared to their Presidential candidate.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -55 +172 -55


Ashford lost the town of Ralston by 24 votes overall.

So why did Ashford do so much better in Ralston than Clinton?  I think there’s something to the explanation that Trump was able to do well with the white working class voters or middle class voters.  For some reason, Trump was able to connect with these voters in a way that Clinton was not able to.  This is another time that I wish I had more data to compare this to.  I would love to see how they voted in a previous election.

There are quite a bit of Trump/Ashford voters in the town.  I would love to talk to them to see why they voted the way they did.  Perhaps, they believe that Ashford will help get things done in Washington in a way that they don’t think Bacon could.  Or if they simply believe that we should have a split government.  This is a belief that is fairly pervasive in Nebraska, in my experience.  But certainly not the best explanation.

Ashford was able to win three of the precincts.  He received over 50% of the vote in two of them.  He ran ahead of Clinton in all of the precincts.  His worst precinct there was him only running by 1.8 points ahead of Clinton.

The Democratic Party of Douglas County and of Nebraska should probably set a goal of winning Ralston in the next Congressional election.  There seems to be distrust of Bacon in this area, so it should be a way to communicate to them, compared to areas where they have to link Bacon to the unpopularity of Trump.

It’s possible that in this area what will sell is the fact that Bacon is not a resident of Omaha and is more of a carpetbagger.  At the end of the day, what is going to convince people to vote against a President and his or her party if they like him will be if their lives are not improved in 20 months.

I can tell you an issue that will not move the needle in Ralston – the death penalty.  There were 2,862 votes on Referendum 426.  They voted to reinstate the death penalty by a wide margin.  For the next table, retain is keeping the repeal of the death penalty.  Repeal is reinstating the death penalty.

Retain Repeal
# of votes cast 1217 1645
% of votes 42.5 57.5


What issues will reach out to Trump/Ashford voters?  Which way are they headed?  Are they headed TOWARD the Republican Party by breaking party lines by voting for a Republican for President?  Or are they headed TOWARD the Democratic Party by breaking party lines by voting for a Democrat for Congress?

That is what we need to find out to net more votes.

South Omaha

South Omaha is typically referred to as the heavily Latino area of Omaha.  There’s a bit of confusion when I asked people for their definition of where South Omaha really is.  I went through the precincts that are represented by Tony Vargas and Mike McDonell in the unicameral and added them into my definition of South Omaha.  Even still, I think I may have gone too far west in saying where South Omaha is on the map (which sounds like a paradox if you are not familiar) by including some areas all the way to 72nd St and Harrison.  I also may have gone too far North stretching to Douglas St. But I will be fairly upfront with the problematic areas in this analysis and let you know where the areas are that I had problems identifying.  I think it is critical for us to have a shared definition of regions if we are going through this exercise.

What we will refer to as North and South Omaha are two of the areas that gave Hillary Clinton the most of her margin in Douglas County.  The 24 precincts that I’ve highlighted as South Omaha had 21,798 votes cast for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 7,288 11,956 949 372
% of votes cast 35.4 58.1 4.6 1.8


Trump won two of the precincts there.  It is debatable whether or not you would either consider these two precincts as part of South Omaha.

04-12: This precinct is located from 48th-60th St from about Harrison to Q St.  This could be too far west for a number of people to really consider it South Omaha but it is represented by Mike McDonnell, so I included it here.  But Trump still managed to win the precinct.  There were 1,043 votes cast for the four presidential candidates there.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 558 429 36 20
% of votes cast 53.5 41.1 3.5 1.9


In the Congressional race, there were about the same number of votes cast for the three person Congressional race, 1,039.  Ashford was able to run well ahead of Clinton.  While this was his worst precinct in South Omaha, he still managed to win.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -80 +78 +18


It’s not immediately obvious to me how Trump was able to win in this area. My assumption is that the more West you go in this precinct the whiter the area is.  But unfortunately, I do not go in this area too often.  The reason why I say it is not immediately obvious to me why he won is because we have Democrat Mike McDonnell winning the precinct with just under 58% of the vote.  Of course, there were about 300 less votes in the state legislature race.  Gilbert Ayala who ran a very conservative campaign for the state legislature had a poor showing.

But then, again.  There were 1,006 votes cast on Referendum 426.  693 votes were cast to reinstate the death penalty.  Only 313 votes were cast to keep the repeal of the death penalty.  There were a number of fairly conservative votes in this area.

04-05:  This is the other Trump precinct in this area.  This is another area that was added to my spreadsheet with South Omaha as the region as it is represented by Mike McDonnell.  This precinct is located around 42nd-50th St G St – Oak St.  This is a really strange precinct on their vote totals.  There were 1,322 votes cast in the precinct for the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 653 600 53 16
% of votes cast 49.4 45.4 4.0 1.2


There are a number of Trump-Ashford voters in this precinct.  There were 1,348 votes cast in the Congressional elections for the three candidates with the net votes.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -61 +112 -9


It just gets a little stranger.  This was Mike McDonnell’s best precinct.  He got 964 votes in this precinct.  Ayala only received 243 votes.  But it was also a precinct that voted to reinstate the death penalty by a 52.7-47.2 margin.

This is an area that can be improved upon for 2020 and could be an area that could be improved upon for 2018, as well.  The question that we have to answer is why did Trump resonate in this area to such a degree and why did Mike McDonnell do the same.  To my untrained eye, as Trump did better, McDonnell should have done worse.  But it simply did not happen, here.

Death penalty repeal

One of the things I am most fascinated by was how poor the death penalty referendum performed in Douglas County.  Douglas County has a fairly sizable Catholic population.  Traditionally, Catholicism has been linked to the abolition of capital punishment.  In 1974, the U.S. Catholic conference voted to declare its opposition to the death penalty.  Pope St. John Paul II wrote in the 1990s that to narrow the death penalty.  He wrote that the cases in which a prisoner must be executed “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”  Pope Francis wrote in 2015 to state the case for the abolition of the death penalty.  He wrote that capital punishment “contradicts God’s plan for man and society.”  But the Catholic Church has not necessarily called for the statewide abolition of death penalty even if there is opposition to the death penalty.  Catholic teaching usually leaves no question that the right to the execution of prisoners is a right left to state.  Pope Francis went further, writing, in 2015 that “today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.”

Beyond the Pope, a number of American Catholic publications including America Magazine, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor, and Patheos Catholic came out together to support the abolition of the death penalty in 2015.  I am not sure of the popularity of Catholic publications in traditional Catholic families especially here in Omaha.

I want to preface something before this next paragraph.  I’m not Catholic, myself.  I don’t know how much weight I would give what the Pope says either in his writing or his speeches, especially if it contradicts my already held belief.  In other denominations, it is more common for people to already arrive at a political belief and then use their religious beliefs to provide support to it.

One of the interesting things that I think gets overlooked is how opposition to abortion spread.  Evangelical and protestant Christian groups did not originally view abortion as such an important issue for a while.  In the 1970s, the consensus in the Evangelical community was that abortion was warranted in many circumstances.  In 1979, Christianity Today, published an article that concluded that the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.  In the 1970s the biggest defender of pro-life issues was Ted Kennedy.  Richard Nixon and even George H.W. Bush were pro-choice.  For most people, they simply did not think about abortion.  If they did, they primarily saw it as a Catholic issue.

Pat Buchanan argued in a memo to Richard Nixon that Nixon should try to peel off Catholic Democrats by appealing to them on abortion and switching to pro-life.  The argument was basically that Nixon would force Ed Muskie to choose between Catholics and liberals if Nixon came out in favor pro-life policies.  Soon after, Nixon spoke of his “personal belief in the sanctity of human life-including the life of the yet unborn.”  As we have seen, it did not take root for a while.

Republican strategists Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich recruited Jerry Falwell to lead a coalition around economic and social conservatives.  The idea was to focus on abortion as the most important issue.  They viewed it as a way to divide the Democratic Party.  Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979.  But even then, the voting patterns in Congress and the voters themselves were not as partisan until the late 1980s.  Political scientist Greg Adams demonstrated that “Republicans were more pro-choice than Democrats up until the late 1980s.”

But if you ask any pro-life voter Protestant or even Catholic, they will tell you that the reason that they are pro-life is because the Bible tells them that the fetus has a soul and the Bible tells them that it is murder.  The Bible hasn’t changed in the last 30 years.  What has changed is people’s personal beliefs and their own partisan beliefs.  For many, Republican politicians are seen as pro-life and Democrats are pro-choice, regardless of their actual stance.  They use the partisan divide and then dress it up with religious connotations.

I say all this to say this.  People are complex and have many different ideas floating around their head at a given time.  People use flawed reasoning to explain answers to complex questions.  It’s not to say who is right or wrong on a given issue, just highlighting how people’s views changed on an issue like abortion with the backdrop of their church.

Anyway, one would think in a Catholic area that they would be more likely to oppose the death penalty.  But we don’t necessarily see that.  In the Elkhorn area, which is over 25% Catholic, they overwhelmingly voted to reinstate the death penalty on Referendum 426.  According to Pew Research, 54% of White Catholics favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder.  39% of White Catholics oppose the death penalty.  43% of all Catholics support the death penalty compared to 46% who oppose it. Elizabeth Bruening uses a Pew study from 2013 to show that only 37% of Hispanic Catholics support the death penalty.  She argues that it is white Catholics who are the ones not supporting the abolition of the death penalty contra the Catholic church teachings.

But this isn’t exactly what we see when we look at the precincts that are predominantly Latino and what, I’m presuming, is Catholic.  In the South Omaha area, that I’ve identified, as a whole, we find that the community is evenly split between reinstating the death penalty to keeping the repeal of the death penalty.  There were 19,671 votes cast for this referendum in this area.  Remember, retain would be to keep the death penalty repeal and repeal would be to reinstate it.

Retain Repeal
Votes cast 9,298 10,373
% of votes cast 47.3 52.7


This does not fall upon party lines or is necessarily caused by lack of voters.  There are 800 less voters on the referendum than for the 4 party Presidential vote or for Congressional vote.  Hillary Clinton received 7,337 votes and 58.9% of the vote.  Brad Ashford received 7,758 votes or 62.1% of the votes for Congress. Pew Research found that 36% of Latinos support the death penalty compared to 50% who oppose.

South Omaha remains to be a very Democratic stronghold but it is worth looking into the way Latinos respond to the death penalty and by extension how Catholics view the death penalty.


The great suburban area of Omaha is Millard.  Known for its nice schools and because of it, nice property value, these mostly lily white neighborhoods make up a large chunk of the population in Omaha.  There’s a bit of a difference between Millard and what is more or less known as West Omaha.  One of the things that I’ve been thinking about while I’ve been researching this, is that the idea of West Omaha or large chunks of how Omaha is laid out is based on class and is based on race.  For many people, if you are in a nice neighborhood west of 72nd Street will announce that it is part of West Omaha.  If you are not in a nice neighborhood and you are east of about 144th St, they’ll say it’s not really West Omaha, yet.

I tried to separate out what would be considered West Omaha and Millard by drawing a line around 160th St.  This is not totally accurate because, for instance, Millard West (a high school) is located at 180th and Q.  So I also did another run with the numbers that included West Omaha, West of 160th.  The one area that I tried to leave intact without including it in this data is the Westside area.

There were 33 precincts in my initial run with Millard (it’s still a little problematic but we’ll get there).  Out of those 33, Hillary Clinton won three precincts.  She did not receive more than 50% of the four party Presidential vote in any precinct. Brad Ashford won four precincts in the area, receiving 50% or more in three of the precincts. Four precincts voted to hold the repeal of the death penalty.

The three precincts that Clinton won may not be considered a part of Millard by everyone.

05-04: This is the main one that I would not necessarily consider as part of Millard but it doesn’t really fit into any other classification.  The precinct is located from 72nd-90th St L St – F St and U St – F St.  It is basically just North of Ralston.  By vote percentage of the four party presidential vote, this was Hillary Clinton’s best precinct.  There were 916 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 412 451 41 12
% of votes cast 45.0 49.2 4.5 1.3


Somewhat surprising, considering what we have seen in other places where we have Republican voters who were not willing to vote for Trump but followed through downballot, we have basically the same amount of votes cast downballot and not a big swing for anybody.  There were only 5 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +4 +10 +3


Without trying to contact each individual voter on who they voted for, it seems fairly intuitive how people voted.

05-05: This precinct is located around 90th-108th St and Q-Center.  It’s a little bit East of where most people consider to be Millard.  But I still think it’s a good example of Millard.  And again, we don’t see Republican voters who are just not voting for Trump but voting downballot for Republican voters.

We just have two fairly unpopular candidates going against each other.  If anything, we have more reluctant Democratic voters who did not want to vote for Clinton but would vote for Ashford.  There were 904 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 398 444 45 17
% of votes cast 44.0 49.1 5.0 1.9


There were 6 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates.  Looking at who was able to benefit the most, we see Brad Ashford.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -4 +27 0


It looks like there were 4 Trump/Ashford supporters and then he was able to pick up the Stein voters and the 6 voters who decided not to vote for one of the four options.  Of course, I could be sorely mistaken.

There has not been a great example that we’ve looked at so far where we have seen non-Hillary Democratic voters.  This is probably the best one that we’ve seen, so far.

05-08:  This one is on the edge of my demarcations for Millard in both the East direction and is necessarily on the southern border as Harrison is the dividing line between Douglas and Sarpy.  It is 96th – 102nd St Harrison – Q St.  Here we see a bunch of voters who could not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. They found a home with Gary Johnson. There were 1,056 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 429 512 97 18
% of votes cast 40.6 48.4 9.2 1.7


Ashford and Bacon both got more raw votes than the Presidential candidates despite there only being 6 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +20 +45 -40


The question going forward for the Democratic Party is, is this sustainable?  Can a Democratic challenger in this precinct win by more than 120 votes (Ashford won by 108)?  Can a Democratic candidate for President reach and get a number of those Johnson voters to vote for them in a year when the candidate is not so unpopular?  What can we do to ensure that to happen?  Those are the questions we need to be asking and answering if we want to net more votes.

Stony Brook

In my mind, one of the better examples of the working class area in Millard is the Stony Brook neighborhood.  This area is mainly located from about 144th-156th Harrison-Q.  I guess I don’t really like the concept of working class neighborhoods because so much of what we consider to be working class is based upon income or house prices.  There are those who make a lot of money doing more blue collar type of labor and those who do white collar work who are highly educated and do not make much in terms of income.  Maybe this is just me.  The houses in this area are not terribly large or expensive which would tend to indicate that it is a working class neighborhood.  But who really knows these things.  I also think of this neighborhood area, rightly or wrongly, as an area where there are older white voters who have lived there for a while.

One of the questions that I wanted an answer to when I started this project or had this idea was to investigate areas that I think of as working class areas and see if Trump had unique appeal in those areas because there were a lot of thinkpieces about this phenomenon.

The precinct in this area is 05-18.  While Donald Trump easily won the precinct, there were quite a few libertarian-curious voters and there were a number of voters who could not find it in themselves to vote for Clinton, as we’ll see.

There were 1,367 total votes cast for one of the four presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 732 544 73 18
% of votes 53.5 39.8 5.3 1.3


It does not seem once we get to the Congressional vote that Trump had a unique way of appealing to these voters.  Rather, this was just a more conservative area. There were 1,380 votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +9 +40 -18


This was a conservative precinct and would have voted for the Republican candidates for federal office, pretty much regardless if this is any indication.

Just to further drive this point home, voters in this precinct overwhelmingly voted to reinstate the death penalty for the state of Nebraska.  63% of the 1,325 voters who voted on the referendum voted to reinstate the death penalty.

Millard Oaks

This is my old neighborhood area.  It’s not an exact match for the precinct.  But we’re looking at the area from 156th-163rd from Harrison-Q St. The area is more of the area of Millard that would be considered upper middle class portion of the region. There are other areas that are a better description of upper-middle class of Millard but this is one I’m more familiar with.  In addition, this area is home to a number of families that move to this area to be able to attend their choice of the Millard High Schools. Also, this area once had me playing hide and seek as a 20 year old being interrogated by someone just a few years my senior about what I was doing to his house. The answer was nothing but it did not satisfy him.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, based on all of that information, we have a fairly conservative area for the three precincts – 05-19; 05-33; and 08-35. These three precincts cast 1,829 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 1000 711 98 20
% of votes cast 54.7 38.9 5.4 1.1


There’s a fairly common thought that has been shown in these precinct looks that Trump does worse with what we think of as higher income areas. This idea was fairly prevalent when you looked at Congressional districts that were more highly educated in the suburbs of other cities.  Some of the ones that were more interesting was Georgia’s 6th Congressional District where Trump only managed to win by 1 point. There is a clear mark where Trump fails with voters. Unfortunately, there is not many journalists going to these suburbs to talk to voters to determine why they could not vote for Trump. And we have another precinct here where there was quite a few number of voters who could not vote for Donald Trump and there are some Trump/Ashford voters, as well.

08-35: The first one that I want to look at is precinct 08-35. This is located from about 156th-163rd St and located Y St – Q St. There were 482 voters who cast a vote for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes cast 250 189 34 9
% of votes cast 51.9 39.2 7.1 1.1


Johnson outperformed his overall numbers for Douglas County and even in these three precincts. This would be understandable. Libertarianism is overrepresented by white more affluent citizens. But when we look at their votes for Congress, we see that there are a number of them who are not willing to vote for a libertarian at the Congressional level. There were two less votes for one of the Congressional candidates.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +26 -6 -13


While this is a conservative precinct there are a few voters in the area who were not willing to vote for Trump when it came to Election Day.

For those of you who have read thus far, you may in your mind trying to construct if this is a precinct represented by Rick Kolowski. And it was. As I’ve talked about before Kolowski was able to outperform in a number of precincts where conservatives were more able to succeed. This precinct was one of his best. He was able to get 57.4% of the votes over Ian Swanson who received 42.6% of the vote.  This, again, was not entirely a product of voters simply not voting at the state legislative level. There were only 50 less votes cast for legislature than for President. He only received 3 less votes than Trump did in this precinct.

05-19: This is the heart of Millard Oaks. This is also the best of the three Trump precincts.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 581 384 49 5
% of votes 57.0 37.7 4.8 0.5


There were 14 more votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates. Brad Ashford outperformed Clinton in this precinct. Trump was able to do better than Bacon, as well. There were quite a few of the Trump/Ashford voters. I’ll be honest, Trump/Ashford voters fascinate me.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes -28 +54 -7


Even more surprising, this area was also represented by Kolowski.  He won the precinct pretty handily garnering 54.4% of the vote over Ian Swanson.

The area is not a great example of “working class” based on the income of the area or with their house values. It simply does not seem like an area that anybody would really assume that it is a “working class” neighborhood. This is yet another example of an area that I would like to see data for more than just this election data. Unfortunately, I do not have this data.

Trump – retain voters

When I first started to look at this data, I made a little comment that there are quite a few Trump supporters who also voted to keep the repeal of the death penalty. I initially thought that there were quite a few Catholic Trump supporters who thought that they could follow the Church’s teachings by voting for Trump and then voting to keep the repeal of the death penalty. This would require actual investigation by someone who gets paid to do this to determine why these voters could vote for Trump who was an avowed supporter of the death penalty but also could vote to keep the repeal of the death penalty. Overall, in Douglas County, keeping the repeal of the death penalty outperformed Trump by 1 point.

So what I wanted to do was look at the precincts that Trump was able to win and then look at the precincts where “retain” outperformed Trump. There were 9 such precincts in Douglas County.  I’m ignoring one of them because there simply was not very many voters in the precinct.  That precinct is 08-27 which is located from 144th-156th Center-Pacific. There were 107 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates and only 102 votes for Referendum 426.

06-26: This precinct is located from 114th-132nd and Harney-Dodge.  It is actually located next to 08-27 which is interesting for what we’re going to talk about in a little bit. This is labeled in my spreadsheet as the Jewish Community Center area. Beth Israel Synagogue is located just south of this precinct, closer to Pierce St. The Jewish Community Center is located just west of this precinct. I bring this up because as I began to look at the precincts who voted for Trump and wanted to retain the death penalty repeal, they were focused in this area. The areas that were around this area were 08-27; 06-04; 06-28; 06-10; 06-26; 06-03; and 06-09.  The next table is how the precincts voted for Trump and then for retain on Referendum 426 and then if retain was able to overperform and by how much (essentially retain minus Trump).

Precinct Trump Retain Retain – Trump
08-27 50.5 60.8 +10.3
06-04 50.7 53.0 +2.3
06-28 55.0 46.4 -8.6
06-10 50.9 45.6 -5.3
06-26 47.4 52.1 +4.7
06-03 54.2 49.0 -5.2
06-09 51.3 50.6 -0.7


It’s not perfect if you just have those precincts but it’s rather interesting that these precincts were able to stomach voting for Trump and for retaining the repeal of the death penalty. If we were able to segment these areas from the precincts down to the street level analysis. I would be willing to bet that the areas that were closer to be able to walk to Beth Israel Synagogue would be more likely to vote to retain on Referendum 426.

06-06: This precinct is located a little to the South and a little to the East of the precincts (at least the Western portion of this precinct). There’s not a good explanation of this precinct. It is located from 72nd-78th St and I-80 – Oak St. I have it listed as Midtown but not exactly what I would describe it as that. Trump won the precinct by 5 votes over Hillary Clinton.  He happens to be the most popular of the candidates listed on the ballot. Don Bacon lost this precinct to Brad Ashford. It seems to indicate that in this area there were a number of people who could not bring themselves to vote for Clinton but were leaning Democratic. There were 20 more votes for the three Congressional candidates than for the four party Presidential candidates.  Ashford got 55 more votes than Clinton did in the precinct and won it outright. But even still, retain did not win in the precinct. It got 49.1% of the vote.  It lost by 16 votes. This is a precinct where I would want to talk to the voters. They did not vote on ideological lines.

06-08: This precinct could have easily been listed in the table above. It is located from 108th-114th St Center-Pacific. So it is just outside of the tabled precincts I looked at. It just strengthens my idea that the voters who voted for Trump and then voted to keep the repeal of the death penalty were clustered.  Trump won this precinct by 4 points or 50 votes out of 1,330 cast. Bacon got 682 votes in the precinct as there were 31 more votes cast in the precinct for Congressional candidates compared to the four party Presidential vote. Even with all of that, there were a number of voters who crossed party lines to keep the repeal of the death penalty.

06-02: This is yet another one of the areas that could have easily been considered in that table I have of the Jewish Community Center area. It is located from 96th St – 108th St Pacific – Dodge St. Unlike a couple of the precincts that we have been looking at, it wasn’t particularly close. Trump got nearly 54% of the vote compared to Hillary’s 42.5%. Bacon won by 3 points, as well. And retain was not very close either. There were 55% of voters in this precinct who voted to keep the repeal of the death penalty compared to only 45% who wanted to reinstate the death penalty.

05-23: I could even consider this precinct as part of the same are. It’s a very narrow precinct located from 104th -108th St F St – Pacific St. This was a very close precinct in the Presidential vote where Trump defeated Clinton by a mere 8 votes out of 1,165 votes cast. This is another one of the precincts where we have Democrats who were unwilling to vote for Clinton. Brad Ashford got 50.6% of the Congressional three party votes. But then they crossed the line again to vote to reinstate the death penalty. Although, 48.5% of voters wanted to keep the repeal of the death penalty.

So why are all these voters who supported Trump but also wanted to keep the repeal of the death penalty? There are a couple of different possible explanations. My favorite one based on the table above is heavily influenced by religion. Judaism, at least some denominations, oppose the death penalty. Shabbot observant Jews need to live within walking distance of their synagogues to be able to attend services and be able to walk home.

The other explanation is one that we should consider, as well. Voting is inherently a social phenomenon. We kind of ignore this, to some extent. If your family or your friends support a particular cause or candidate and are passionate about it, they will talk to you about it. If you end your friendship with them or sever ties with your family over it, you are the ones that are considered a jerk. If you start arguments at get togethers, people will not invite you back. Overall, it is polite to just allow for the ones who are passionate to express their beliefs. These beliefs extend to a certain point where they are saturated by an area. Friendships, by and large, are not chosen because of ideas or shared interests, they are largely formed and cultivated because of proximity. What good is it if you are a Democrat living in a fairly conservative area to express support for a Democratic candidate that you don’t feel passionate about? You may lose friends, lose invitations to neighborhood get togethers, or family get togethers. It is easier to just accept it. And to a certain point, you may bring that baggage in with you when you vote. You may not feel comfortable, necessarily, voting for Trump but you may just choose not to vote for Clinton. If that same area is heavily invested in the idea of keeping the repeal of the death penalty, you may accept it, too.

But it’s definitely worth exploring this area to see if it can be flipped. It’s certainly interesting.

Northwest Omaha

The last area in Douglas County that I spent a lot of time has been Northwest Omaha. There’s not any significant difference between most of West Omaha and Northwest Omaha. The main difference is that large portions of West Omaha are in the Millard School District and many of the high school graduates continue onto Millard University (University of Nebraska – Lincoln).

For the most part, I’ve designated Northwest Omaha as West of I-80 which is roughly 108th St and North of Dodge St. I tried to not go too far north or west in order to not to run into Bennington or Elkhorn.

There were 37,771 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 19,228 16,327 1,818 398
% of votes cast 50.9 43.2 4.8 1.1


This is a pretty conservative area with the Presidential votes. But even still, there were a number of voters in the area that did not want to vote for Trump, for whatever reason, but would still want to vote for a Republican for Congress. There were 38,253 votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates. So there were about 500 voters in the area who could not find it within themselves to vote for one of the four Presidential candidates. As we’ll see from their Congressional votes, there’s even more voters who did not feel comfortable voting for Trump at the top of the ticket. Here is their Congressional votes with the net votes.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +1,037 +533 -690


There were a number of Ashford supporters who could not find it within themselves to vote for Clinton. The largest section, though, by far, was non Trump supporting Republicans.

There were a number of precincts in the area that Clinton won. Most of her victories were in the more Eastern part of the precinct. She won precincts 07-19 (120th-125th Dodge-Parker); 07-18 (104th-118th Dodge-Parker); 07-15 (104th-122nd Parker-Maple); 07-05 (108th-120th Hilltop-Fort); 07-09 (102nd=108th Maple-Fort); 07-02 (106th-109th Military-Newport); 07-25 (120th-125th Ohio-Maple); 07-10 (108th-120th Maple-Hilltop); 07-23 (90th-96th Maple-Boyd); 07-11 (120th-132nd Maple – Fort) and 07-03 109th-120th Fort-Redick). It is simply amazing to see the divide crop up between the Eastern part of NW Omaha compared to the rest of the precincts. There is a clear line between about 125th and the rest of the area. Those areas have a high population of African-Americans. This area primarily goes to Burke High School. Even still, there is one precinct that also voted for Don Bacon.

These precincts cast 13,192 votes for one of the four Presidential candidates and 13,369 votes for one of the three Congressional candidates:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 5,675 6,624 717 176
% of votes 43.0 50.2 5.4 1.3


Bacon Ashford Laird
# of votes 5,901 6,932 536
% of votes 44.1 51.9 4.0
Net votes +226 +308 -181


07-02: This precinct is located in the Northeast part of the precinct from 106th-109th Military-Newport. There were 1,278 votes cast for one of the four presidential candidates:

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 578 624 68 8
% of votes cast 45.2 48.8 5.3 0.6


There were a few voters who could not bring themselves to vote for one of the four presidential candidate but who still voted for one of the three Congressional candidates. There were 1,298 votes cast for one of the three Congressional candidates. Here is how they voted with the candidates’ net votes.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +64 -4 -32


Trump may not have been acceptable to a number of the voters there. But Bacon only won the precinct by 22 votes.

One of the nicer parts in all of Douglas County includes the neighborhood of Huntington Park. Houses in this neighborhood have an average list price of $375,000 and range from $275,000 – $500,000. When I think of the rich suburbs of NW Omaha, I think of Huntington Park. It is roughly west of 156th and Blondo. The precinct that best encapsulates this area id 07-34 which is located from 156th-162nd Parker- Maple.

There were 1,002 votes cast in this precinct for one of the four Presidential candidates.

Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 585 367 43 7
% of votes cast 58.4 36.6 4.3 0.7


As we see, this is a pretty conservative area. There were 1,030 votes cast for one of the three candidates running for Congress.

Bacon Ashford Laird
Net votes +80 -10 -25


In the nicer parts of Douglas County, time and time again, we see that the areas are very conservative but still have a problem voting for Trump. Maybe there is a social stigma with voting for Trump but they feel comfortable supporting Republicans, anyway. For many, party id simply outweighs social stigma.


State Senator Rick Kolowski represents this legislative district. It is located in Millard and parts of West Omaha. As I’ve mentioned a few times, Kolowski is a moderate in the unicameral who often takes progressive positions there. Thanks to the Daily Kos’s election team, we have some numbers about how this district voted in 2012. Based on my own research, I have the numbers for how this area voted in 2016.

According to the Daily Kos’s findings, they found that there were 19,579 votes cast in this legislative district. There were only 231 votes cast for one of the non two party candidates for President.

2012 Romney Obama
# of votes 12,734 6,614
% of votes 65.0 33.8


There were more votes cast in 2016 in this legislative district despite what people assumed. There were 20,067 votes cast for one of the four Presidential candidates.

2016 Trump Clinton Johnson Stein
# of votes 11,525 7,410 943 189
% of votes 57.4 36.9 4.7 0.9


There were a number of voters in this legislative district that did not feel comfortable voting for Trump after voting for Romney in 2012. Gary Johnson had a significant increase in his vote share, as did Jill Stein.  Despite what we were told about Hillary Clinton’s extreme unpopularity, the one who seems to be hurt the most by their unpopularity was Donald Trump. Some journalists need to write about suburban voters who couldn’t find it in themselves to vote for Trump in November.

5 things to watch: Wisconsin

If you do believe the demographic trajectory of the election, you may believe that Wisconsin is  a state that could potentially flip to Donald Trump.  I’m not sure I really buy into it.  I think that Wisconsin, even with the voter suppression tactics that are happening in Wisconsin, as I write this, it stays comfortably in Clinton’s column.  Plus there’s the idea of more opposition research dropping (I’m writing this on October 28th and I’m pretty sure that there’s more coming).

  1. US Senate race: Russ Feingold is one of my favorite politicians in my lifetime.  Feingold helped author a campaign finance reform bill with Arizona maverick John McCain, that ended up being struck down in Citizens United.  He opposed the Iraq War.  He opposed the USA PATRIOT ACT.  All in all, was a great Senator.  He lost in the 2010 wave election for the Republican Party to Ron Johnson, a TEA Party darling.  Johnson has voted as fairly right wing which is out of step for the state of Wisconsin which has a slight liberal lean.  Feingold is probably not the most representative, either.  He is much to the left of his constituents, as well. Most polls show that Feingold is a near lock to return to the Senate.  For many people who were “feeling the bern” Feingold is a person that you can easily latch onto.  I can’t quite be objective about this Senate race because of my love for Feingold. So I’m watching this Senate election with a closer eye than most of the Senate races.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District: If Democrats are going to take back the House of Representatives, they’re going to have to win districts like this one.  Cook’s political rating has this district as lean Republican.  If it does potentially flip, the reason will be that Clinton and Feingold are able to overperform the current polls. In 2012, this district voted for Republican Reid Ribble with 55.9% of the vote winning by 42,000 votes.  In 2014, he did even better with an 87,000 vote advantage.  But Ribble’s incumbency advantage is not coming into the 2016 election.  The Democratic Party nominated Tom Nelson to run against former Marine Captain Mike Gallagher.  Gallagher is a veteran adviser to the ill-fated Scott Walker Presidential campaign but will test how much influence Walker has in this district.  People are split on how much of an influence Walker has (he more or less has underperformed in 2010, 2013, and 2014) and how much of an influence the conservative talk radio has in Wisconsin.  At any rate, it will be an interesting thing to watch going forward.
  3. Wisconsin State Senate District 18: Democrats in Wisconsin have an outside shot of being able to retake the State Senate in Wisconsin.  If they want to do that, they will have to take Senate District 18, to do so.  The seat is currently held by Republican Rick Gudex.  He was able to win the seat in 2012 against the Democratic incumbent.  Gudex won the election by 600 votes.  This is not an insurmountable edge for the Republican Party.  Combine that without an incumbency advantage and a belief that Feingold and Clinton outperform the current polling and I think this State Senate district is definitely one worth watching.
  4. Wisconsin State Assembly District 51:  Unlike the State Senate, there is almost no chance that the State Assembly is able to be flipped to Democratic control.  In 2012, this district, went to the Republican incumbent, Howard Marklein with 51.9% of the vote.  He received just over 1,000 more votes than his Democratic challenger.  In 2014, with a Libertarian candidate running to help spoil the election for the Republican Party, Todd Novak won the election with 47.5% of the vote  winning by 65 votes over the Democratic opponent.  There’s not a libertarian party candidate on the ballot for this district this year, which should provide additional help for the Republican.  I’m interested in watching if it can flip without the Libertarian Party candidate trying to spoil the election.
  5. Wisconsin State Assembly District 85: Another example of the Libertarian Party more or less giving the election to a Democratic politician.  Mandy Wright won the 2012 election in this district with a 900 vote lead over the Republican, Patrick Snyder.  In 2014, this seat flipped from Wright to Republican Dave Heaton.  Heaton won the election in 2014 by 85 votes.  So for 2016, there’s a rematch of the 2012 election between Wright and Snyder.  There is not a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot in this district this year but it seems to be shifting to the left so it may be somewhat of a victory for Wright even without a Libertarian helping her out.

5 things to watch in every state: New Jersey

There’s really only one election I’m interested in watching.  That is the election for New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District. Republican incumbent Scott Garrett won re-election in 2012 with 55% of the vote defeating his Democratic challenger by 37,000 votes.  In 2014, Garrett ran again for re-election.  He defeated Democratic challenger Roy Cho by about 23,000 votes winning 55% of the vote.  Sabato Crystal Ball has this race has a toss up.  I’m interested in seeing if Trump actually makes inroads into some of these bluer states that could potentially make what seemed like vulnerable Republicans feel safe.

5 things to watch in every state: Nevada

Oh, Nevada. I’m very sad that one of my favorite politicians is going to retire in January.  For about 6 years, I’ve wanted to work on Harry Reid’s staff.  It’s been a dream of mine.  Alas, it will probably not happen.

  1. U.S. Presidential election: Over half of Nevada’s voters have already voted.  12 days into early voting, the Clark County firewall for Democrats is 55,000 which is matching the same point it was at in 2012.  There has been some recent polling in the state that is showing Trump winning the state.  I’m not sure I really buy that polling.  For starters, the reason that I don’t is that the polling is notoriously bad in Nevada, especially trying to reach Latino voters.  Latino Decisions and Jon Ralston (who really knows his Nevada politics) criticized the most recent CNN poll that is showing Trump +6.  Ralston is reporting that the edge by Democrats, statewide is about 34,000 right now.  This means that Trump will likely be behind double digits as the first returns come in on Tuesday.
  2. U.S. Senate Race: Ralston also reported that Republican Joe Heck is getting crushed in the early voting returns.  So Heck has to be upset that over half of the ballots have already been cast in his state.  This was supposed to be one of the pickups for Republican Senate hopefuls.  Heck is running to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.  The Democratic nominee is Catherine Cortez Mastro, former Nevada Attorney General.  She knows what it takes to win statewide and has the Reid political machine going for her.  There is probably only a couple of political machines in the country.  Reid’s Democratic political machine is definitely one of them.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District: Sabato’s Crystal Ball has this election as “leans Democratic.”  Heck who is the current Congressman for this district is running for Senate in the state.  The Republican candidate in the district is Danny Tarkanian.  He is facing Democrat Jacky Rosen.  In 2012, Heck won re-election to represent the district with 50.4% of the vote.  He won by just over 20,000 votes.  If Trump does not do that well in the state or that Reid’s machine does well to get out the vote, this election is going to be very close.
  4. U.S. House of Representatives, Nevada’s 4th Congressional District: This is another potential pickup for the Democratic Party.  Democrat Steven Horsford won election to the seat in 2012 with 50.1% of the vote defeating Republican Danny Tarkanian by 19,000 votes.  Horsford was then defeated in 2014 by 3,600 votes.  The Democratic nominee in this district is Ruben Kihuen who defeated Bernie Sanders backed Lucy Flores in the Democratic primary.  Kihuen is trying to unseat Republican Cresent Hardy.  If the race is going to be similar to 2012, then Kihuen should have a real shot to be able to win the seat back from the Republican incumbent.
  5. Nevada State Senate District 6: Republican Mark Hutchison won election to this seat in 2012 with 50.8% of the vote defeating Democrat Benny Yerushalmi by 900 votes.  That’s a really close race.  National Democrats are trying to take back the State Senate where Republicans hold a one seat advantage.  Republicans currently hold the State Assembly, State Senate, and Governor’s Mansion, so it is fairly important for Democrats to wrest back a little control.  The Democrat running in this election is Nicole Cannizzaro who is hoping to unseat Hutchison.  Democrats are hoping for increased turnout to be able to take back this Senate seat.
  6. Nevada State Senate District 15: This is another seat that is being targeted.  Republican Greg Brower was able to win re-election in 2012, in this district, with 50.2% of the vote defeating Democratic challenger Sheila Leslie by 266 votes.  But good news for the Democrat, Devon Reese, who is running this time to try and take the seat.  Reese is facing Republican Heidi Gansert, so no incumbency advantage, and has a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot, as well in David Colborne.  I would assume that this seat is more in play than Senate District 6.  But what do I know?
  7. Nevada State Senate District 18: Of the three potential pickups for the Democrats, this seems to me, like the least likely.  Republican Scott Hammond was elected in 2012 with 51.4% of the vote defeating Democrat Kelli Ross by 1,500 votes.  There is a new Democrat running against Hammond in 2016.  The Democrat Alexander Marks is trying to unseat Hammond.  Democrats need to take 2 of 3 to be able to flip the Senate or just one to tie the Senate.
  8. Nevada State Assembly District 9: Democrat Andrew Martin was able to win election to this district with 53.2% of the vote defeating Republican C. Kelly Hurst by 2,346 votes.  In 2014, a more Republican year, Republican David Gardner was able to defeat Democrat Steve Yeager by 464 votes.  That’s a pretty big swing from 2012 to 2014.  I think it’s possible that the turnout is very similar to 2012 (that’s what we’re seeing in the early voting, at least).  If that’s the case then in this rematch of 2014, Yeager is likely to upset Gardner.
  9. Nevada State Assembly District 21: This is a state assembly district that could flip from Republican control to Democratic control.  Democrat Andy Eisen won election to this district in 2012 with 50.1% of the vote defeating Republican Becky Harris by just under 800 votes.  In 2014, Eisen ran for re-election but lost to a new Republican in Derek Armstrong.  Armstrong was able to defeat Eisen by 451 votes.  So the election was decided by just over 1,200 votes in the last two elections combined.  This is going to be very close.  Armstrong is running for re-election and is facing Democrat Ozzie Fumo.  While the State Assembly is likely out of reach, with Democratic turnout going to be closer to 2012 than 2014 and more Democrats showing, they should be able to flip this seat.  An interesting subplot in this election is that Uber is trying to help Armstrong win re-election.
  10. Nevada State Assembly District 35: Yet another playbook that I’m interested in watching.  The Democrat, James Healey, was able to win election in 2012 by a little less than 1,000 votes over Republican Tom Blanchard.  In 2014, Healey, running as an incumbent lost to Republican Brent Jones by 745 votes.  That’s a fairly decent swing from 2012 to 2014.  There’s a new Democrat running against the incumbent Jones.  The Democrat is Justin Watkins.  Again, what I’m interested in watching is the turnout returning to 2012 compared to 2014.  It’s possible that turnout alone isn’t enough to flip districts and state assembly districts.
  11. Question 1: Nevada is trying to enact more background check measures for gun sales and gun transfers.  Nevada is fairly “conservative” on guns rights issues.  This measure would require firearm transfers to go through a licensed gun dealer who would then run a background check.  There would be some exemptions including transfers of guns between family members and law enforcement agencies. Michael Bloomberg has spent a lot of money on this initiative and would obviously like to see it passed. Most elected Republicans and the Nevada Republican Party oppose this measure.
  12. Question 2: This measure would legalize recreational use of marijuana for individuals who are 21 or older.  This is opposed by most elected Republican officials in Nevada. Sheldon Adelson is also spending quite a bit of money to try and oppose this measure.   He also used the newspaper that he owns to oppose the measure in an editorial.  Support of the measure has consistently led in polling but it seems like it’s going to be fairly close.

5 things to watch in every state: North Carolina

North Carolina is going to soon replace Ohio as the most important state during Presidential elections.

  1. U.S. Presidential election: This is going to be one of the most important Presidential elections in the country at the state level.  So far, there have been 2.4 million votes cast for early voting in the state.  This is about in line with 2012 early voting but it’s likely to go over 3-3.2 million votes cast in early voting.  North Carolina is important to watch because the North Carolina legislature tried to pass onerous voter restrictions to try to keep African American voters from voting.  The legislature requested specific information to look into data about African American voters to keep them from voting.  Most of the restrictions were ruled unconstitutional as passed with discriminatory intent.  But there is still voter purges happening in the state.  According to Will Cubbison, on Twitter, the voter file records show that most early voters in North Carolina are consistent voters.  Nate Cohn at the Upshot for The New York Times, found that their polls partnered with Siena are closely matching the early vote predictions. If that’s the case, Cohn suggests that North Carolina will go to Hillary Clinton.  The vast majority of polling in the state seems to agree with that. It seems like this state will go to Clinton, if this is accurate, it will be very difficult for Trump to be able to win the presidency.
  2. U.S. Senate election: Because Clinton is likely going to win the state, the Senate race in this state is going to be watched closely.  Noted not sock wearer Senator Richard Burr is running for re-election against Democrat Deborah Ross.  Butt was re-elected in 2010 with 54.8% of the vote in a Republican wave year.  In 2014, for the other Senate seat, Thom Tillis was able to defeat Democratic Senator Kay Hagan by 46,000 votes.  This is one of the closest races that I’ve been looking at.  Burr is leading by 1.8 points according to HuffPost Pollster.  Public Policy Polling (PPP) which is based in North Carolina, in their most recent poll has the race at 1 point for the Republican Burr.  This is likely going to be one of the closest Senate elections in the country on November 8th.
  3. North Carolina gubernatorial election: Conservative favorite Pat McCrory is in for a re-election battle of his life facing Democrat Roy Cooper.  HuffPost Pollster has Cooper leading by 3 points over McCrory.  PPP, in their most recent poll, has Cooper leading McCrory by 2 points.  McCrory is unpopular in part because of his HB2 support but also because of his support for the voter restrictions and Conservative agenda that does not seem to be working in the state.  Because of the importance of this race, the Senate race, and the Presidential election, the Democratic Party is heavily focusing on this state to help flip it blue.
  4. North Carolina Attorney General election: Cooper is the current Attorney General in North Carolina.  He is running for Governor rather than running for re-election.  The Democrat who was nominated to run for Attorney General is Josh Stein to face Republican Buck Newton.  The race seems fairly close.  In the most recent polling from PPP, they have Stein leading the Republican Newton by 5 points although there is 17% of the voters who are undecided.  But I do believe that the Democratic Party is doing more to turn out the votes in this state and will certainly help Stein on November 8th.
  5. North Carolina State Senate District 1: Republicans in the State Legislature have an underwater net favorability because of an unpopular agenda being pushed through.  Republicans still hold the power in the State Senate and State House of Representatives.  This is one district that could flip.  In 2012,Republican Bill Cook defeated Democratic incumbent Stan White by 21 votes.  Romney barely won the state in 2012.  In 2014, Cook won a rematch by about 4,200 votes.  Instead of having a third straight election with the same candidates, White chose not to run.  Brownie Futrell is the Democratic candidate to try to unseat Cook.  If Clinton does well in the state, like I think, it’s possible that Futrell is able to unseat Cook.

5 things to watch in every state: Mississippi

There are not 5 elections worth watching in this state.  The only thing that I’m looking forward to watching in this state is to see how Hillary Clinton is able to do in the state. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the state with 55% of the vote defeating Obama by 11.5 points.  In 2008, a year where Obama did better nationally, he was only able to get 43% of the vote.  I think it’s possible that Clinton is able to improve on Obama’s measure of 43.79% of the vote in 2012.  Clinton might be able to break 44% of the vote on November 8th.  That is probably the most important thing to watch in the state.

5 things to watch in every state: Missouri

This state used to be the bellweather until it was no longer the bellweather.  The state is fairly conservative and seems to be trending to be more and more conservative.  According to recent polling, Trump is likely to win the state by double digits.  Even so, there are a few races worth watching.

  1. U.S. Senate election: Missouri’s Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander decided not to seek re-election for Secretary of State and chose, instead, to challenge Republican Senator Roy Blunt.  Kander and his campaign have produced some of the most entertaining ads this election cycle.  He is a veteran and is trying to capitalize on that and his pro-2nd amendment stances to distinguish himself from other Democrats who have run in the past (and are currently running).  Blunt had underwater net favorability for a little over a year.  The Democratic Party has been investing heavily in this Senate election.  He will have to run well ahead of Clinton in the state to be able to win. Blunt, so far, has been able to avoid more of the Todd Akin moments that allowed Claire McCaskill to be able to win when she ran.  There is a big investment for both parties in this Senate election and I’m excited to watch the returns come in. If Clinton comes in around 10 points behind Trump, I imagine Kander is able to win.
  2. Missouri gubernatorial election: Democratic Governor Jay Nixon can’t run for re-election due to term limits.  The Missouri Democratic Party nominated current Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to be their gubernatorial nominee.  The Republican Party nominated Eric Greitens to be their nominee.  According to a very recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, Koster holds a 3 point lead over Greitens.  That’s even with a fairly large Donald Trump lead in the state.  If the lead tightens and Clinton does better than expected, then we’re looking at a potential win for the Democrats.  Republicans hold both the State Senate and the State House of Representatives. so a Democrat in control of the Governor’s mansion is very important for Democrats.
  3. Missouri Attorney General: Democrat Teresa Hensley is running as the Democratic nominee for the Attorney General facing Republican Josh Hawley.  The current Attorney General, Koster is running to be Missouri’s Governor.  Attorney General has generally been seen as a stepping stone to a much bigger politicla field.  ANYWAY. This looks to be a very close race.  Hensley is leading the only polling I’ve seen (taken in July) and was only up by 2 points.  I have to think this is another case of Democrats trying to run ahead of Clinton to be able to win.  The better clinton does in the state, I’d imagine, the better the chances are for the Democratic Party in these offices.
  4. Missouri State Senate District 1: Republicans currently hold botht the State Senate and the State House of Representatives by a wide margin.  Republicans are trying hard to take back one of the few seats Democrats have. Democrat Scott Sifton was able to defeat Republican incumbent Jim Lembke by 1,634 votes (89,744 votes cast).  This was a very close election.
  5. Amendment 3/Proposition A: There are quite a bit of ballot measures on the statewide ballot in Missouri.  There is a constitutional amendment facing a statute against each other on the ballot.  Amendment 3 would raise the cigarette tax by 60 cents a pack.  Both gubernatorial candidates oppose the measure.  Critics of the amendment allege that “big tobacco” is the reason why it is showing up on the ballot and will actually help their companies.  Most of the major newspapers in the area are critical of the measure arguing that the Amendment is a trap for voters.  Proposition A would increase the cigarette taxes by 23 cents by 2021.  Both gubernatorial candidates oppose this measure, as well. Both measures are trending to be opposed on Tuesday but I’m not so sure there are that many people who are going to ignore an increased tax on tobacco.
  6. Amendment 2: This Amendment is trying to limit campaign financing funds for state office and judicial office.  It would also prohibit trying to hide who your donors are for these campaign funds.  This measure is basically supported by the elected Democratic officials in Missouri and opposed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens.  I am always interested in trying to find campaign finance laws that will stick and this one looks like it is going to pass.
  7. Amendment 6: Over the last 8 years or so, there ha sbeen an increased call by Republican legislatures to pass voter id laws.  These laws are ostensibly pased to combat inperson voter fraud.  I’ve written about the subject, here. This is the first time that I’ve seen such a law for a ballot measure.  This measure is being supported Greitens and numerous elected Republican officials in Missouri.  Nixon and candidate Ksoter oppose the measure as does the NAACP.   I don’t believe that such a measure should be passed but looking at the polling, it’s likely it will.

5 things to watch in every state: New Mexico

Gary Johnson, the former Governor of the state, was initially running high on the idea that he could somehow win his state and somehow could force the Presidential election to the House of Representatives.  This is the dream of a number of people who like to get stoned and talk about politics without a real idea of what they are talking about.

  1. New Mexico State Senate District 9: Democrats hold a six seat advantage in the State Senate in New Mexico which is not a big enough advantage that they shouldn’t worry about keeping it.  It seems unlikely that Republicans will be able to take it back but one of the races to watch there is this district. Democrat John Sapien won re-election to this district in 2012 with 50.3% of the vote.  He won by 161 votes over Republican challenger David Doyle.  Sapien survived a primary challenge this year and is running, again, against a Republican challenger Diego Espinoza. Espinoza is trying to break into this small firewall of votes that Sapien seems to have.  I’ll be interested in watching whether or not Sapien is able to win by a larger margin.
  2. New Mexico State Senate District 15: Daniel Ivey-Soto has a little bit more breathing room than Sapien.  Ivey-Soto was able to win election in 2012 over his Republican opponent by a little less than 1,200 votes.  Ivey-Soto is facing a new challenger in 2016.  New Mexico is going to to be fairly competitive but Democrats should be motivated enough to give Ivey-Soto about the same margin that he had in 2012.
  3. New Mexico State House of Representatives, District 15: Republicans were able to take back the State house of Representatives after 60 year control of the chamber by Democrats.  Democrats are looking to take back the chamber, if they can.  One of the districts that they’re probably looking at is District 15.  Democrat Emily Kane won election in this district over Christopher Saucedo in 2012 by 314 votes.  In 2014, while Kane was running for re-election she faced Republican Sarah Maestras Barnes.  Maesstras Barnes was able to defeat Kaane’s re-election bid by 356 votes.  The new Democrat running in this district is Ane Romero hoping to make the type of gain that we see very often in Presidential years for the Democratic candidates.
  4. New Mexico State House of Representatives, District 24: Democrat Elizabeth Thomson was able to defeat Republican incumbent Conrad James by 78 votes.  All elections that were decided by less than 100 votes should be considered one of the closest elections in the country.  It did not take a great political prognosticator to predict that Thomson would lose to her Republican opponent.  Thomson faced James again in 2014 and she lost by 384 votes.  In 2016, it seems likely that Thomson could defeat the Republican candidate Christina Marie Hall in 2016.  But it will be a very close race, if 2012 is any indicator.
  5. New Mexico State House of Representatives, District 37: This was very close to being my favorite election to watch in 2016.  unfortunately, there was a mistake in describing the political party of the candidates. As it happens, though, this is still one of my favorite elections to watch.  In 2012, Republican Terry McMillan was able to hold onto his seat by 8 votes out of 12,526 votes cast.  8 total votes.  No matter how many times I see it, seeing elections decided by less than 10 votes makes me happy.  Democratic challenger Joanne Ferrary decided to challenge McMillan again in 2014.  She lost by 409 votes.  This is still a small amount to decide an election.  Ferrary has once again decided to challenge McMillan for 2016.  If 2012 is any indication, this wil be one of the closest elections in the country.
  6. New Mexico State House of Representatives, District 39: This is another district where Democrats are looking to take back what was once theirs.  Democratic incumbent Rodolfo Martinez was able to win re-election in 2012 by 430 votes. Trying to get re-election in 2014, Martinez faced Republican John Zimmerman in a rematch of 2012.  This time Zimmerman was able to win.  He beat Martinez by 344 votes.  In 2016, we will have our third straight election between Martinez and Zimmerman.  If Martinez does better in Presidential election years, like we think, then it seems like he will be able to take back the seat over Zimmerman.

5 things to watch in every state: Montana

Montana is such a weird state for electoral politics, really.

  1. Montana Gubernatorial election: The current Governor of Montana is a Democrat.  Democrat Steve Bullock.  This tends to confuse people who think that states like Montana and a few other states like to elect Democrats at the state and local level.  Bullock is running for re-election.  He is facing Republican Greg Gianforte.  Pretty much all of the rating groups, say that this rate is lean Democratic. The polling for the state shows s a close race between Bullock and Gianforte. It’s important to watch because if Gianforte wins the election, Republicans will hold the State Senate and State House in addition to the Governor’s mansion.  Bullock won election to the Governor’s mansion with 49% of the vote in 2012.  Barack Obama lost the state by 14 points at the same time.  It’s possible that Trump’s style dos not match well with Montana voters which could hurt both Trump and other candidates trying to hold onto his coattails.  This election is going to rely on Bullock to outpace Clinton in the state which seems likely but not guaranteed.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, Montana’s At Large Congressional District: This seat is currently held by Republican Ryan Zinke.  Zinke initially own election in 2014 with 55% of the vote beating Democrat John Lewis by 55,000 votes.  Steve Daines won the 2012 election with 53% of the vote defeating Democrat Kim Gillan by 50,000 votes.  Sabato’s Crystal ball has this race as likely Republican and I tend to agree. Zinke would have to have Trump fail in the state or run significantly behind Trump at the statewide level.  His challenger is Democrat Denise Juneau.  Juneau is currently the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction so she knows what it takes to get elected at the statewide level.  While I think Juneau is likely to get defeated, it seems possible that Juneau would be able to pull the upset.
  3. I-182, Medical Marijuana Initiative: Montana legalized medical marijuana in 2004.  It was later revised in 2011.  This revision limited dispensaries to only having three users.  This ballot measure would repeal this limitation and change the way law enforcement agencies interact with medical marijuana dispensaries. Polls are showing that the measure is going to be close (51% opposing the measure, according to the last poll I looked at).  But that’s a pretty close ballot measure.  I’m interested in watching how it fares, despite my qualms about having so many medical marijuana ballot measures this year.
  4. Montana State Senate District 10: Democrat Deborah Magin is running for this State Senate seat against Republican Steve Fitzpatrick.  The seat is currently held by Democrat Brad Hamlett.  He won re-election in 2012 with 51.1% of the vote defeating the Republican by 171 votes.  That’s a really close election, in which the incumbent held an advantage.  It looks like it is going to be a very close election in 2016, as well, and one well worth checking out.
  5. Montana State Senate District 25: Not really sure why this election for the district last took place in 2010.  Kendall Van Dyk, a Democrat, was able to unseat the Republican incumbent Roy Brown by 8 votes.  8(!) votes.  Can you imagine?  That’s really insane.  Anyway, Van Dyk was initially considered a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate but dropped out after his wife had their first child.  He is not running for re-election.  Since the last election took place in 2010, it’s unclear to me how the new state senate seats were drawn for the district.  Democrat Jen Gross is facing Republican Donna Huston in the seat.  If the district was redrawn to be slightly more conservative, then Gross is likely to lose but we shall see.
  6. Montana Secretary of State election: The current Montana Secretary of State is Democrat Linda McCulloch.  She can’t run for re-election due to term limits.  Based on previous elections, the Secretary of State in Montana flips control every other election.  So it would seem likely that the Republican Corey Stapleton could be able to win the election.  He is running against Democrat State Auditor Monica Lindeen.  They are nearly tied at fundraising, so it will come down to who can get the vote out on November 8th.  My bet is on Lindeen who has been elected but she’s going against party registration numbers so it could be pretty close.

5 things to watch in every state: Massachusetts

Massachusetts is kind of a boring state for federal elections.  Martha Coakley is not runnig for election this year to lose what should be an easy win for the Democrats.  Because of that, there are only three things that I’m watching in this state.

  1. Question 2: At one point, there was a war within the Democratic Party over the future of education reform.  More “neoliberal” Democrats seem to be fin favor of trying to go through education reform by using Rheeism to reform teacher unions and by extension would change the education movement.  Part of this movement would lead to the creation of charter schools to get around the teacher unions.  Republicans have often taken the charge of charter schools because they think that public education can only be reformed or fixed if the teacher unions are pushed out of the way. This question would allow for the authorization of up to 12 charter schools in the state.  It’s being spearheaded by Republican moderate Governor Charlie Baker.  And by some of the Democrats, such as Stephen Lynch.  The “Elizabeth Warren part” of the Democratic Party are strongly opposing the measure and wanting to watch Baker struggle.
  2. Question 3: This is one of the first ballot measures for animal welfare that I’ve seen in a while, if ever.  When I was in college, I remember being fired up about changing animal welfare laws.  The measure would try to prohibit factory farms and try to let animals be able to actually stand and be able to move in order for them to eventually be harvested for the sale of meat.  There would be a fine for those who violate the measure.  The biggest supporters of the measure are animal welfare organizations.
  3. Question 4: I’m so tired of marijuana ballot measures. This ballot measure would legalize recreational marijuana for individuals who are over the age of 21.  This is another measure that stands in contrast to Governor Charlie Baker. According to the polls I’ve seen, this looks like a very close ballot measure and should be one to watch.  Even if I’m sick of trying to follow all the marijuana ballot measures that are out there because I don’t think it’s very important, overall.