Experts predict close Nebraska special election will bring in more outside money in November

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 19:24:17-04

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — A look at the last 20 years of elections in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District shows nothing but dominant wins for Republicans.

But that all changed on Tuesday night.

“When the early returns came in I was concerned, but as the night came on small towns in rural Nebraska came through,” said Mike Flood, the winner of last night’s election.

Only 7,000 votes stood between the Democrat, Patty Pansing Brooks, and an upset win.

That’s the smallest margin of defeat for a Democratic Party candidate since at least 2004 when former incumbent Jeff Fortenberry won his first term and the race was much closer than many experts predicted.

“I was a little surprised. The 1st Congressional District is what’s called a +9 Republican district, so on average, you can expect Republicans to win there by about nine points. Looks like Flood won somewhere between five and six points, which means Pansing Brooks is probably overperforming,” said Randall Atkins, senior associate dean of social sciences and graduate education at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Atkins says it's important to note that special elections are rare in Nebraska and voter turnout was low compared to general elections, which makes it hard to predict if we will see a similar result when Pansing Brooks and Flood rematch in November.

But he does predict the close results will have even more people, even those across the country, paying attention to what happens in CD1.

“I think there is a lot of things that will come into play in the general. Because this race was so close, or closer than expected, we are going to see outside money coming in. You should tell your viewers (to) get ready to watch political ads. We are going to see a lot of political ads, a lot on the radio and a lot on social media,” said Atkins.

Pansing Brooks will have to fight an uphill battle between now and November to make up the difference in voters but Tuesday showed that anything could happen in the first district.

“We must go forward and heal this country and we must go forward and make a difference. I am ready to do that are you?” said Pansing Brooks at her watch party Tuesday night.

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