On Sunday night, right before the start of the much-watched Giants-Eagles football game, viewers in various swing states were treated to a two-minute long television ad from the Obama campaign, touting the president's record in office.
One market featuring the spot was Omaha, Nebraska.
Advertising in Omaha has an obvious political purpose. The city shares a river border with Iowa. To reach folks there -- a legitimate swing state -- a campaign has to run ads in that market, a fact an Obama campaign official reiterated when asked about the Sunday Night Football purchase.
But Omaha also has the potential to play an outsized role in the outcome of the election. Three of Nebraska's five electoral votes are awarded by congressional district, meaning that Mitt Romney could win the state but Obama could siphon off one vote. This would matter only if Obama and Romney were tied at 269 electoral votes apiece before an upset in Omaha moved it to a 270-268 victory.
It's a scenario that's not impossible to envision. Obama would have to win Ohio, Wisconsin and New Hampshire while losing Iowa, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Florida and North Carolina. (Since western Iowa borders Omaha, it's tough to imagine that Obama would win the city but lose the adjoining state).
In 2008, Obama was able to win Nebraska's 2nd congressional district, which contains Omaha. Redistricting in 2010 makes it hard, if not impossible, to duplicate that feat. But a recent Wiese Research Associates poll had the race tied in the second district. And while the Obama campaign said it was advertising in Omaha primarily with an eye on Iowa, an official also noted that the campaign has an office in the city.
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