WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is spending precious time in the final days of the 2020 campaign in places with just a single Electoral College vote at stake — a sign of just how close an election his campaign is expecting.
With nine days to go, Trump traveled Sunday to Maine, and planned to go to Nebraska on Tuesday. Unlike most states, which tend to utilize a winner-takes-all system, Maine and Nebraska divide up their Electoral College votes, giving two to the winner of the statewide vote and one vote to the winner of each congressional district.
While most of the attention this year has been on traditional battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania, both campaigns have included Maine and Nebraska — places typically off the beaten campaign path — in their last-minute push, with the Trump team citing possible scenarios where the election could come down to one or two Electoral College votes.
For instance, should Trump manage to hold on to states he won in 2016 other than Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, there could be an Electoral College tie. In that scenario, a tie would be broken by the state delegations in the House of Representatives, which are currently majority Republican. Should Trump fail to win that trio of states, along with one of Maine or Nebraska’s congressional districts, he could lose the race by just one Electoral College vote.
In Maine, Biden leads by double digits in recent statewide surveys, according to the NBC poll tracker, and is expected to win Maine’s First Congressional District that includes Portland and Augusta. But the state’s more rural Second Congressional District could come into play — while Trump won it in 2016 it was carried by Obama in 2012 and 2008.
The district “could be pivotal in this election cycle,” said Trump campaign senior adviser Corey Lewandowski in an interview Sunday on Meet the Press.
Trump has spent months trying to win over Maine voters by advocating for the state’s lobster industry. He visited the state in June to hold a roundtable on the lobster industry, invited a Maine lobsterman to speak at the Republican National Convention, and this summer directed his administration to provide lobstermen with bailout money to make up for lost income from his trade war with China.
In Nebraska, Trump is expected to win the popular vote, but Biden has a chance of winning a single vote from Nebraska’s Second Congressional District. A NYT/Siena College poll this month showed Biden leading the district, which includes Omaha and its suburbs, by 7 percentage points.
The district has about the same number of registered Republicans as it does Democrats, and the results could be determined by just a few thousand votes. Trump won the district in 2016 by 6,500 votes and it went to Obama in 2012 by just under 3,500 votes.
The Biden campaign has also been eyeing Maine: Biden’s wife Jill Biden will visit the state on Tuesday, and Kamala Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff was in the state on Saturday. The spouses visited Nebraska last month.