Trump and GOP leaders push to change Nebraska electoral votes to winner-take-all

Former President Donald Trump and Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen are calling on the state’s Legislature to change the way Nebraska doles out its Electoral College votes, a move that would almost certainly benefit Trump in his 2024 presidential bid.

While most states dole out all their Electoral College votes to the statewide winner of the presidential vote, Nebraska and Maine give out one electoral vote to the candidate who wins each congressional district. 

Republicans have long sought to change the law, which has given Democratic presidential candidates a shot at winning one Electoral College vote — from the Omaha-based congressional district — in the otherwise red state. That’s happened twice, including in 2020, when Joe Biden won the district’s electoral vote over Trump, meaning Trump’s 58% support statewide got him four of the five Nebraska electoral votes.

Republicans are upping the pressure on the state’s nonpartisan, unicameral Legislature to make the change before this fall’s presidential election.

But despite the pressure from Republican heavy hitters, the push could fall short as the legislative session draws to a close, after the previously introduced bill languished unnoticed before the sudden rush of attention.

Hours after Republican activist Charlie Kirk put out a call for his supporters to contact Pillen, a Republican, to support the change, the governor responded with a statement of his own reiterating support for the bill and calling on lawmakers to pass it. Shortly after, Trump lent his backing to the efforts on social media. 

“Governor Jim Pillen of Nebraska, a very smart and popular Governor, who has done some really great things, came out today with a very strong letter in support of returning Nebraska’s Electoral Votes to a Winner-Take-All System,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform

“Most Nebraskans have wanted to go back to this system for a very long time, because it’s what 48 other States do — It’s what the Founders intended, and it’s right for Nebraska. Thank you Governor for your bold leadership. Let’s hope the Senate does the right thing.”

Kirk said in a statement to NBC News that he has been focused on the issue “for some time.” 

“I realized two things researching for my show: There was already a bill drafted, and the legislature was still in session,” Kirk said. “So I decided to do something about it. Credit to Governor Pillen and President Trump for acting quickly.” 

The electoral math 

The debate is functionally over just one of the 538 Electoral College votes that decide the presidency. But the change could have far greater repercussions than it may initially seem.

Biden won 303 Electoral College votes in 2020 to Trump’s 235, but the electoral landscape has shifted significantly since then. Battleground state polling shows states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin — states Trump lost in 2020 — are well within the Republican’s reach this fall. 

And if Trump is able to win back the key Sun Belt states he lost in 2020 — Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — then Nebraska’s split electoral vote becomes of paramount…

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