It is an unlikely scenario, but one the Obama campaign has been prepping for. If the Democratic Senator wins every state won by John Kerry in the 2004 election, plus Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada, he and John McCain would be tied at 269 electoral votes.
Obama, however, has an ace in the hole. His campaign has been pouring resources into Omaha, Nebraska, in hopes of getting that one additional electoral vote from a state that divvies them up by congressional district.
To date, the Obama campaign has spent $350,000 on television advertisements in that market compared to zero from the McCain campaign, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. Obama also has 15 paid staffers on the ground in a state that hasn't voted Democratic since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and hasn't had a Democrat seriously compete within its borders since Bobby Kennedy's Nebraska train tour in 1968.
"The presence of the campaign here is historic in and of itself," said an Obama aide.
Matt Connealy, executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party, set the bar a bit higher: "I think we will come close in Lincoln. If we keep doing what we are doing in the next couple weeks, we may even flip the congressional district in Omaha."
Connealy's outlook is, in all likelihood, overly optimistic. Democratic operatives say that while Obama has made inroads in the state, Nebraska is still decidedly conservative. And while Omaha has a demographic makeup more favorably disposed to the Illinois Democrat than other areas, the district includes suburban areas that have been majority Republican for some time.
There are several developments that could help tip the scale. Warren Buffet, the oracle of Omaha, has endorsed Obama and donated money to his candidacy. More political help from the famed-investor - like say, an appearance alongside him in Nebraska - could sway some minds. The same holds true with Nebraska's Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who has sat on the sidelines throughout the election despite, on occasion, spouting off critical words of John McCain and complimentary takes on Obama.
As it stands now, the Obama team is working off a game plan that doesn't rely on flipping a Nebraska congressional district (the McCain campaign, too, is looking to peel off a district in Maine, which also allocates its electoral votes proportionally). And Obama's spending there pales in comparison to the investments he has made in actual swing states. But with an abundance of resources, they are liberated to take into mind any, however unlikely, hypothetical election outcome. And they aren't leaving many stones unturned.
"We can compete in traditionally Republican strongholds like Nebraska because voters across the country are ready for change and can't afford four more years of the same failed Bush policies that John McCain is offering," said Obama's Nebraska spokeswoman Erin Fitzgerald.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more