Republicans and Democrats battle it out across the country for control of Congress, with a district in Nebraska right in the middle of that battle.
University of Nebraska-Omaha Political Science professor Paul Landow sees the Second Congressional District race as Democratic incumbent Brad Ashford’s to lose, with Republican challenger Don Bacon fighting uphill against an expected strong turnout of Democrats, which is usual for a presidential election year.
“I think in a normal year we may be talking about this as the other way around with Bacon as the likely winner, rather than Ashford,” Landow tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Landow says the Ashford-Bacon race has gone about how it was suspected; close.
Landow considers both the incumbent and the challenger good candidates with Ashford, a former state senator, carving out a centrist record and Bacon, former commander of Offutt Air Force Base, mounting a strong challenge as a conservative.
The presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump could play a big role in this race, but perhaps not as expected. Both Ashford and Bacon support their party’s nominee, but both seem to be keeping them at arms-length.
Still, Ashford could benefit from Clinton’s efforts to take the electoral vote from the Second District in one of only two states which award electoral votes proportionally. She has spent money in Omaha as well as set up offices in the district with paid staff and a bevy of volunteers. No such effort has been put forth by the Trump campaign. Turnout by Democrats could tip the balance toward Ashford.
Even so, Landow says the Congressional race should stand on its own, not rising or falling on the outcome of the presidential election as both candidates seek to sway that small percentage of undecided voters left.
“The fact that Clinton and Trump have been somewhat controversial and unpopular doesn’t have a really large impact on that middle percentage,” Landow says, adding if voters are genuinely undecided, they’re not going to let the presidential candidates make up their minds for them.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]