Both major party presidential contenders are spending time in Maine and Nebraska this election cycle in an effort to pick off just one single electoral vote from their competition.
So how does this work and why might this be a good (or not-so-good) strategy for the presidential nominees? Here’s what you need to know about why Trump and Clinton are paying close attention to Maine and Nebraska.
Maine and Nebraska: What Makes Them Special
In order to win the presidency, candidates have to hit the magic number of 270 electoral votes in the electoral college. You can see the ABC News race ratings map below:
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) August 3, 2016
But while most states are winner-take-all, Maine and Nebraska are different. Maine and Nebraska give two electoral votes to the winner of their state and one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district.
This opens the door for Republicans in Maine and Democrats in Nebraska to chip away at least one electoral vote from the opposite party.
Most electoral map scenarios favor Clinton. Trump would need several battleground states to fall his way in order to hit the 270 magic number. But with some potential permutations of electoral votes ending in a 269-269 tie, it’s possible that a single congressional district in Maine or Nebraska could make the difference.
Trump Makes a Play in Maine
The GOP nominee is rallying this morning in Portland, Maine, having last visited the state in late June.
“We don't want factories and businesses leaving Maine and going to Mexico and going to other places,” he said in Bangor a month ago. Trump also went on to praise Maine as one of the “most beautiful states.”
Today, Trump is in in the state’s first congressional district, but the second district is the most likely to tip Trump’s way in November. A poll from the University of New Hampshire in late June showed Trump and Clinton running essentially neck-and-neck there, with Trump at 37 percent support and Clinton at 36 percent.
The state’s second congressional district comprises most of the land area of Maine — minus major cities in the southern tail of the state, like Portland and Augusta. It’s also one of the most rural districts in the United States, and it’s currently represented by a Republican in Congress.
Still, Obama won the 2012 race there, 52-44 percent. And the state has always delivered all its electoral votes to the same candidate throughout its history.
Clinton Rallies in Nebraska
Just days ago, Clinton rallied in Omaha, hoping to take the state’s second congressional district that President Obama also won in 2008.
“We actually gave a vote separate than the rest of Nebraska,” explained Clinton-backer Warren Buffett to the crowd at Clinton’s rally. “So it's been done. It's been done.”
Even though Sen. John McCain won the full state by 15 percentage points in 2008, Obama won the district surrounding Omaha by just 1 percentage point. Mitt Romney won the same district in 2012 by roughly 7 percentage points. Nebraska is typically deep red territory, but major cities tend to lean more liberal.