Nebraska and Maine are the only two states in the United States which distribute their electoral votes for president based on presidential candidates' performance in their respective congressional districts in addition to their statewide performance. The statewide popular vote winner for president receives two electoral votes, and the winner of each of Nebraska's congressional districts—there are currently three such districts—receives an electoral vote from the respective district.
While the rest of the state's electorate leans strongly towards the Republican Party, the 2nd district, being centered on the city of Omaha, is much more closely divided between the two main parties—Republican and Democratic.
In the 2008 United States presidential election, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama targeted the district as a strategy of breaking a potential electoral-vote tie. He won the district's electoral vote by a margin of 3,325 votes over his chief general election opponent, Republican John McCain. However, McCain won Nebraska's statewide popular vote, as well as the district-wide popular vote for the other two Nebraska congressional districts, thus receiving four electoral votes from Nebraska.
Obama's victory in the 2nd district meant that Nebraska's electoral delegation was split for the first time ever. It also marked the first Nebraskan electoral vote for a Democrat since 1964. By contrast, in 2012 and 2016, Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Donald Trump won the 2nd district, as well as the overall statewide vote and the electoral votes of the first and third districts.
In 2011, Nebraska lawmakers moved Offutt Air Force Base and the city of Bellevue — an area with a large minority population — out of the Omaha-based 2nd District and shifted in the Republican-heavy Omaha suburbs in Sarpy County. The move was expected to dilute the city's urban Democratic vote, which Democrats criticized as gerrymandering.
^Curry, Tom (2008-11-02). "Is Obama-Terry the winning ticket in Omaha?". NBC News. Retrieved 2008-11-20. If the national electoral vote tally is close, then the one electoral vote in Omaha would loom large. But with Obama apparently ahead in competitive states such as Virginia, the presidency may not hinge on Omaha's vote.
^Walton, Don (2012-11-07). "Romney wins 2nd District electoral vote". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 2012-11-07. Republican nominee Mitt Romney appeared to have won the battle for Nebraska's only competitive presidential electoral vote Tuesday night. [...] Romney held comfortable leads in both the 1st District, which includes Lincoln, and the vast 3rd District, as well as statewide. (Archived by WebCite at https://www.webcitation.org/6Bzdk9RLy)