Gov. Dave Heineman says he remained confident throughout the election that fellow Republican Deb Fischer would win her United States Senate race.
Heineman says he never really bought in to the thought that Republican Deb Fischer’s race with Democrat Bob Kerrey got close.
“I don’t think there was a day in this campaign she wasn’t leading in the general election,” Heineman tells reporters when asked about the Fischer-Kerrey race.
Most political analyst conceded the race to Fischer until the Nebraska Democratic Party in early October held a news conference raising an issue the Kerrey camp would run with for the rest of the campaign. Democrats accused Fischer of being a bad neighbor, because of a boundary dispute she and her husband had with a neighboring ranch, settled by the courts in 1997.
Kerrey claimed the situation disclosed a character flaw in Fischer. Fischer defended the action.
Later in October, Kerrey’s campaign released an internal poll that claimed he had gained ground on Fischer, narrowing a double-digit margin to a single digit. The public opinion poll taken by Hickman Analytics claimed the race to replace retiring United States Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, had narrowed to a split of 50% for Fischer and 45% for Kerrey. A poll conducted by Pharos Research Group claimed the race had tightened even further; a 48-46 Fischer advantage.
The Fischer campaign cast doubt on the pollsters’ methods and motivation.
The Fischer camp also questioned an independent poll released late in the campaign.
The Omaha World-Herald released a poll giving Fischer only a three-point lead with about a week to go in the campaign; 49-46. Five weeks earlier, a poll by the newspaper gave Fischer a comfortable 10-point lead.
Daniel Keylin, Fischer’s communications director, released a memo from campaign manager Aaron Trost that cast doubt on a poll released by the Omaha World Herald. Trost cited examples in which the poll commissioned by the newspaper missed the mark badly on Election Day. Trost questioned the methodology of the poll, believing it skewed results toward Democratic voters and often interviewed respondents unlikely to vote.
Trost concluded the memo by stating he expected Fischer to win by double digits.
The Fischer camp then released its internal numbers that project a 55-39 Fischer victory.
The final unofficial results released by the Secretary of State’s office gave Fischer 445,254 votes, 58.17% of the total and Kerrey 320,167, 41.83% of the total.
Heineman says there’s no secret to Fischer’s success.
“I think Sen. Fischer had a lot of things going for her,” Heineman says. “She worked enormously hard. Generally, whoever works the hardest wins these races and she worked very, very hard.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]