Nebraska Polls Closed; Custer County Awaiting Results

CUSTER COUNTY–Nebraska polls are now closed following the 8 p.m.  deadline. As of 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, Custer County Clerk Constance Gracey said ballots from nearly all county precincts had been collected. She anticipates local unofficial results to be counted by approximately 11 p.m.

According to the Nebraska Secretary of State website, Donald J. Trump has claimed approximately 52.04% of votes in the presidential contest for the state of Nebraska.

At the state level, News Channel Nebraska (NCN) posted on Twitter that Kate Bolz has an early advantage in the Congressional race for Nebraska’s first district.

“Still a lot of votes to count, but Kate Bolz has surprised many with an early advantage in the Nebraska’s first district US House race. Fortenberry has held the seat since 2005.”

Besides the presidential race, NCN will also be keeping an eye on results in Senate, House and Nebraska Unicameral races. Additionally, NCN will be following several state and local ballot measures and at least six mayoral races in the state.

12:35 AM CST: It’s looking increasingly likely that all three of Nebraska’s current Representatives in the House will remain in office. Jeff Fortenberry has opened up a 14-point advantage on Democratic challenger Kate Bolz in District 1. The race is still too close to call in District 2, but Don Bacon has inched his way back to a four-point advantage over Kara Eastman. Also winning on Tuesday was Adrian Smith in District 3. Smith claimed nearly 80% of the vote, far ahead of Democratic challenger Mark Elworth Jr’s 17%.

12:27 AM CST: Joe Biden will receive one of Nebraska’s electoral votes, while President Trump will claim four. Biden currently holds a 7% edge over Trump in District 2, which has been called for Biden, while Trump has a 6-point lead over Biden in District 1. Trump also claimed District 3 and Nebraska’s two statewide electoral votes.

12:18 AM CST: We’re running deep into the night, and with lots of local and state elections coming in, we’re going to go ahead and link to those results, as some still have yet to receive final reports.

12:08 AM CST: Some notable state legislature races are in, and some are still being decided. In a very contentious 1st district race, Julie Slama will retain her seat after a convincing win over Janet Palmtag. Slama was initially appointed to her seat in 2019 by Gov. Pete Ricketts. Leading in the race to fill Ernie Chambers’ long-held seat is Terrell McKinney. The closest of all the state legislature races at this hour is in District 3. Democrat Carol Blood holds a 274-vote edge over Rick Holdcroft in the Sarpy County district.

11:55 PM CST: There were very few contested mayoral races across Nebraska this year, but the results are coming in. As of this hour, Deborah VanMatre has claimed a narrow five-vote win over Johnathan Pearson in Gibbon. In Gretna, Mike Evans claimed a comeback win over Angie Lauritsen. Other mayoral winners included Joey Spellerberg in Fremont, Doug Kindig in LaVista, Brandon Kelliher in North Platte and Greg Cramer in Wood River.

11:30 PM CST: During our television broadcast tonight, UNO political science professor Dr. Paul Landow raised an interesting point relating to Nebraska’s split electoral votes during our television broadcast. While Nebraska’s competitiveness in districts 1 and 2 might encourage state republicans to switch to a more common winner-take-all approach, such a change might discourage politicians from visiting the state in the lead-up to elections. Dr. Landow noted the energy that Nebraska Republicans felt during President Trump’s recent rally at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield.

11:25 PM CST: Georgia’s counts are stretching deep into the night, especially in the larger metro areas. As a result, many of the areas still counting votes in Georgia are calling it a night and will resume at 8 a.m. EST. It’s looking increasingly likely that we won’t know who has won the presidential election until later this week.

11:20 PM CST: Republican congressman Jeff Fortenberry has opened up an eight-percent lead over Kate Bolz in the 1st district. Fellow Republican incumbent Don Bacon is also leading, although his lead is far more precarious. Bacon is currently 4,483 votes ahead of Kara Eastman.

11:15 PM CST: For the first time tonight, Trump is leading in Nebraska’s 1st district. He holds a 216-vote edge over Biden at this hour. Trump, meanwhile, is still losing in the 2nd district, trailing by almost 30,000 votes.

11:00 PM CST: The polls are closing in Hawaii, leaving just Alaska to close its polls. While the pace of this election is different than any other due to the coronavirus pandemic and mail-in balloting, this is the latest that Nebraska has had two districts still in play in the presidential election. Joe Biden holds a slim lead 1.5% in Nebraska’s 1st and a more comfortable 10.5% lead in the 2nd.

10:53 PM CST: For the first time tonight, Joe Biden leads the popular vote, on the strength of a comeback win for the former Vice President in Virginia. That all appears to be an afterthought at the moment, as the election appears to be coming down to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. Nevada, which has not counted yet, could also be in play, but it appears the others are far more vital at the moment.

10:50 PM CST: 46 potential Judicial retentions were on the ballot in Nebraska. As it stands right now, all positions will be retained. Some districts are counting faster than others, but it appears unlikely any of the judges on the ballot will lost their posts.

10:40 PM CST: NCN TV coverage has wrapped (for now), but will still be offering live updates online for a while. That said, as many states are expected to go deep into the morning (and into the week), it’s unknown how deep into the evening we’ll go. We’ll try and stay with you as long as it takes to report most Nebraska results.

10:31 PM CST: The two notable House races in Nebraska remain tight. Kara Eastman continues to inch closer to Don Bacon, while Jeff Fortenberry has moved into the lead over Kate Bolz.

10:23 PM CST: There was an expectation that Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district would be up for grabs in the presidential race, but also in play is Nebraska’s 1st district. On the strength of early votes, Joe Biden currently holds a 5% lead over President Trump.

10:16 PM CST: There’s still more counting to be done, but results are starting to crystallize in the Nebraska legislature races. Follow those results here.

10:11 PM CST: Nebraska’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts are both getting more competitive. Jeff Fortenberry has moved within a little over 2,000 votes of Kate Bolz, while Kara Eastman has crept to within a little under 7,000 votes of Don Bacon. What’s interesting in the Bacon/Eastman race is that Joe Biden currently has more votes in the 2nd district than Eastman does in her congressional race. Either Biden is outperforming Eastman at this point, or Eastman is underperforming Biden.

10:05 PM CST: With all of the talk about districts 1 and 2, it’s easy to forget about Adrian Smith, Nebraska’s 3rd District Representative since 2007. Smith has once again held onto his seat.

Now back to the talk of District 1: Jeff Fortenberry continues to gain on Kate Bolz. A Bolz victory would be considered a sizable upset. Fortenberry is currently addressing his supporters in Lincoln.

10:00 PM CST: Polls have been closed for nearly two hours, so numbers are getting clearer. While more counting needs to be done, support remains strong for all of Nebraska’s proposed amendments and initiatives.

9:46 PM CST: Pundits expected a close race in Nebraska for the US House of Representatives, but most anticipated that race coming in District 2. Right now, the closer race remains in District 1. Democratic challenger Kate Bolz holds a slim lead over incumbent Jeff Fortenberry. Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Don Bacon holds a larger, albeit early, lead over Democrat Kara Eastman in District 2. Currently, Bacon is polling better in his house race than Donald Trump is polling in the District 2 portion of the presidential election.

9:42 PM CST: Mike Flood has returned to the Nebraska legislature. Flood, who previously served before facing term limits, ran unopposed this year.

DISCLOSURE: Flood owns Flood Communications, which owns and operates News Channel Nebraska.

9:38 PM CST: Now that Missouri has been called for President Trump, it’s looking like Nebraska and all of its neighbors, except for Colorado, will go for Trump.

9:15 PM CST: Ben Sasse, as expected, has claimed victory in his Senate race. More surprising is an advantage currently held by Kate Bolz over Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry in the first district. The Democratic challenger holds an early edge on Fortenberry, who has held the seat since 2005. Meanwhile, Don Bacon currently holds an edge over Kara Eastman in the second district race.

Also of note, Julie Slama has an edge over Janet Palmtag in the hotly contested state legislature first district race.

As for ballot initiatives, there is strong early support for Amendment 1, which would remove slavery from the language of the Nebraska constitution. Amendment 2, which would extend tax increment refinancing periods, is also getting early support, as is Initiative 428, which would cap payday loan rates. While not as overwhelming in its support, initiatives supporting legalized gambling in Nebraska are also currently shaded toward ‘yes’ votes.

9:05 PM CST: President Donald Trump has been called as the winner in the state of Nebraska. That is the statewide vote, meaning Trump gets a guaranteed two electoral votes. Nebraska also awards an additional vote for each congressional district, and the second district is expected to be competitive. The numbers are still preliminary.