Nebraska Contains a Portal to Hell Where Trump and Biden Tie

Elections 2024 Election
Nebraska Contains a Portal to Hell Where Trump and Biden Tie

This year’s presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is almost certainly going to be very close, as we live in a polarized country and have two options with historically bad negative favorability ratings. The last two elections were decided by razor-thin margins in swing states, and that is likely to be the case again this year. Such is life in a world where two immensely flawed candidates are running against the only person in America who they could beat.

A common refrain in the Trump years was wondering how things could possibly get any dumber, and I am here to tell you that we have not even yet opened the portal to hell, let alone stepped through it. I have located it and folks, it is waaaaay too accessible.

There are six states that will likely decide this presidential election: Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Joe Biden is president because he won all of them in 2020, but polling this time around certainly casts a lot of doubt on whether he will be able to do it again.

FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages currently have Trump up a little over five percent in Nevada and Georgia, up four-and-a-half percent in Arizona, up half a percent in Wisconsin and Michigan, and up one-and-a-half percent in Pennsylvania. While that may look dire for Joe Biden’s reelection chances, he only needs to win the three extremely close Midwest states and he’ll be president…assuming everything else holds.

But what if it doesn’t?

Enter Omaha, Nebraska.

Maine and Nebraska apportion their electoral votes by district, so even though Nebraska is a deep-red state, the Democrats have shown an ability to pick off one electoral vote from the second district housing its largest city (Maine’s split votes are much less up for grabs, as Biden won ME-1 by twenty-three points in 2020 and Trump comfortably carried ME-2 in 2016 and 2020).

Since 2008, NE-2 has been won by each party twice. Obama took it in 2008 and Biden did too in 2020, while Mitt Romney and Donald Trump won it in 2012 and 2016.

Assuming Omaha will hold is far from a foregone conclusion, and even though it is only one electoral vote, it’s the fulcrum that Joe Biden’s reelection chances may hinge upon. The popular notion that all he needs to win is the famed Midwest firewall is entirely based on the assumption that Omaha will remain blue.

If Nevada, Arizona and Georgia flip from blue to red while everything else stays the same from 2020, Joe Biden will win by two electoral votes. If Nebraska’s second district flips along with those three states: folks, welcome to hell.

This is firmly within the realm of possibility. I’d even argue that it enters the outer ranges of plausibility. Biden holding on to the upper Midwest but losing the southern swing states is what I’d bet on happening right now, and then that leaves Omaha as a wildcard.

Biden won it by seven percent in 2020, but Trump carried this district over Hillary Clinton by a little more than two percent in 2016. There is not much polling on NE-2 so far, but a mid-May query from the Republican-funded Iron Light pollster has Biden up five percent, while Public Policy Polling conducted two polls at the end of April (one with brain-wormed RFK Jr. and one without) and Trump was up by three points in both.

No matter how you look at it, Omaha is a coin flip.

A tie would not help Joe Biden, because the constitution does have a plan for this situation, and like many of its 18th century quirks, it is incredibly stupid. Instead of using the House of Representatives like it is defined—along districts—the House would be split along state lines in the event of a tie, with each state getting one vote. The next president would be whoever gets 26 states to vote in favor of them. Barring some unexpected development, the Republicans would win with their 26-22 edge over the Democrats. Minnesota and North Carolina are evenly split, and in the event of any Republican defections, would become the belle of the ball.

This doesn’t guarantee a resolution to the election, as the electors will meet in December to decide the president, and only half of states have laws which require their electors to vote for the popular vote winner in their state.

As the January 6th drama demonstrated, this fight would not even be resolved when the electors voted, but ultimately when Congress meets next January 6th to ratify the election. We could eventually find ourselves in a scenario where the House and Senate vote separately for the President and Vice President.

Imagine the shitshow where Biden and Trump tie and the House and Senate are split between the Democrats and Republicans, all while Trump wins the popular vote. There are so many crazy and dangerous routes that spring from a tie, taking a step back and observing the myriad possibilities looks like something designed to break this increasingly fragile system. The mess it would create undoubtedly would further degrade people’s belief in the efficacy of the constitution, and America’s soft power with its citizens at home would continue to erode.

A tie may not be the likeliest outcome in this election, but current polling indicates that it’s a lot closer to likely than to a longshot.

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