This is the story about a national championship coaching legend, three-term congressman, and the symbol that is all of Nebraska: humbleness, hard work and integrity. This is also the story of how this legend can blow a 40 point lead to a non-elected, party loyal, sitting governor.
Who would have thought six months ago this race would be too close to call. Not us…(well, our prediction was two months ago) We thought the race would tighten, but that ultimately TO would win handily given his lofty status in Nebraska.
Well something happened on the way to the coronation. We didn’t realize what an inept campaigner Tom Osborne really is, and what a great staff Heineman, the consummate political pro, would hire. And the pro went right to his base: party loyalists. He hit them with the issues that matter: pro-life pro-business, free trade. He showed a mastery of the issues. Heineman pushed the immigration issue hard – as we suggested he would and should, way back in March as well. Of course Heineman has to run on his record and he has taken a beating on that as well.
That beating came at the hands of the gentlemanly coach who promised to only run a positive campaign. From the start of the debates, Osborne was taking shots at Heineman. His delivery is such that no one ever saw them coming, but Dr. Tom could throw a dart as deftly as anyone. Until, of course, the ham-handed negative push-poll calls and Osborne’s non-apology over the whole thing, which we summarized here. (And we’re still waiting for the Heineman camp to come out with their demand that Osborne call everyone back and apologize. What’s the status on that anyway? Or is Dave or Carlos just going make a statement on Monday for effect? That would be our suggestion – considering the polling bump that the whole thing caused.) If anything can put Heineman over the top, it’s having Coach/Dr. Tom being knocked off his pedestal of honesty and integrity. Many see this as just campaigning, but others know there’s reason to second guess him.
On Tuesday though, the fact that Heineman has made this race so competitive will be his undoing. With the dead-heatedness of this race, it’s gathering more and more attention. Those “unlikely” voters will become likely voters if they think their vote can make a difference. And the voter who only comes out for this big one, is most likely to side with the guy he’s known (or at least thinks he has known) for the past thirty some years. We’ll also go out on a limb and say that those Dems who are switching parties for a day aren’t doing it to support Governor Dave. Whether it’s the school issue or just because they want to be involved, those thousands will be primarily Osborne people. And finally, Dave Nabity’s attacks on Heineman, to the extent they’re covered, can only help Osborne.
Heineman has done well in office and has run a heckuva campaign. Unfortunately, he got stuck going up against the King of Nebraska.
Osborne will win this race.
Come back on Monday (or possibly Sunday) for our prediction on at least one other race (frequent readers know which one we’re talking about…)
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
(or for the anti-immigration folks, Happy May 5th….)