The biggest — and most surprising — news of the night was nonprofit executive Kara Eastman’s nomination in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Although former U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford had both the money and the backing of national Democrats, Eastman defeated him 51 percent to 49 percent. Like many of yesterday’s victorious Democrats, Eastman won by throwing red (blue?) meat to the liberal base: Where Ashford touted his ability to build consensus in Congress, Eastman promised confrontation and, well, resistance to President Trump.1
The potential problem for Democrats is that Eastman’s outspoken liberalism may turn off general-election voters in Nebraska’s 2nd District, which, while not ruby red, is still red. True, Barack Obama carried it 50 to 49 percent in 2008 — but that was 10 years ago and in an election where Democrats won the popular vote by 7 percentage points. Since then, Mitt Romney carried the district by 7 points (while losing nationally by 4 points), and Trump won it by 2 (while losing nationally by 2). All in all, the 2nd is 6 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole, according to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean metric.2 Democrats currently lead the generic ballot by that same 6 points. If that’s true in November, that would theoretically translate to a tie ballgame in the 2nd District — the kind where small considerations, like a candidate’s appeal to the median voter, could tilt the outcome.