Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee lends help to Brad Ashford effort

January 10, 2018

Omaha World Herald | Roseann Moring | Jan 10, 2018


Democratic congressional candidate Brad Ashford has picked up a spot on the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of candidates considered to have the best shot at unseating a Republican. The group announced that Ashford will be one of 18 people on its “red-to-blue” list. The designation is not an endorsement, the committee said, but it will provide Ashford with access to training and other resources.

Not on the list is Democrat Kara Eastman, a nonprofit executive who is vying with Ashford for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District. The primary winner will challenge incumbent Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican, in November.

Bacon has already received national support as well — a political action committee affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan has hired a staffer to help Bacon’s re-election chances.

Ashford successfully ran for Congress in 2014, beating Republican Rep. Lee Terry. In 2016, Bacon challenged Ashford and won. “A lifelong community leader in Nebraska, Brad Ashford has worked tirelessly to deliver solutions for middle-class families,” said committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan in a statement. “Throughout his career, Brad has had the courage to reach across the aisle to find common ground and get things done.”

Ashford said the designation reflects his relationships with former colleagues. “It’s very gratifying to me, quite frankly, to have their confidence,” he said. Randall Adkins, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said the designation will likely serve as a cue to Democratic donors that they should give money to Ashford’s campaign. But he said it could backfire on Ashford if primary voters see the designation as special treatment from the national political party.

Adkins said that although he hasn’t spoken to the decision-makers, offering support to Ashford likely comes down to two reasons. “They’re being strategic, and they’re looking at this and they’re saying, one, we think he has the best chance of winning,” he said. “The other thing is, a lot of politics is about relationships, and Brad built relationships with the people making those lists.”

Ashford was on the red-to-blue list during his 2014 campaign, though in that year there was not a similarly competitive primary. Then, in the general election, the national campaign committee spent about $1 million on the Ashford-Terry matchup.


Ashford to debate opponent at Omaha Press Club League of Women Voters and Omaha Press Club are Co-Sponsors

January 9, 2018

Omaha, NE – Today Brad Ashford announced a debate agreed to by his primary opponent for the upcoming election.   

“The debate at the Press Club is a long standing tradition for the metro area,” Ashford said. “I appreciate the League of Women Voters and the Press Club extending this opportunity to showcase our race to the voters of the district. These groups have a significant history of bringing forth issues that are of concern to people here and I look forward to talking about how we move our community, state, and country forward.”

Details below:

Omaha Press Club and League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha co-sponsors

Omaha Press Club – 1620 Dodge St, # 2200

Thursday, April 19th

Debate time will be over the noon hour



Here Are the Trump Country House Seats Democrats Are Trying to Retake

January 8, 2018

VICE NEWS | Robert Wheel |

The final installment of our preview of battleground districts in the 2018 midterms.


Welcome back to House Party, our column looking at the 2018 House of Representative races as midterms approach.

After the 2008 election you could drive from Niagara Falls along the south shore of the Great Lakes up through Minnesota and North Dakota to the Canadian border without going through a county that Barack Obama lost. In 2016, a lot of those counties in that strip were painted red, as Donald Trump flipped just enough of the Upper MIdwest to score an electoral college victories. When I left you readers before the holidays (welcome back) I focused on districts that Obama won in 2008 in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, but now I want to turn to the districts in other states—in that belt and elsewhere—where Democrats have been successful as little as ten years ago. With Democrats poised to have their best year since 2008 in the coming midterms, all these places deserve a closer look:

Nebraska’s Second Congressional District (Omaha)

2016: Clinton 46–Trump 48
2012: Obama 46–Romney 53
2008: Obama 50–McCain 49

The Second is another Obama ‘08 district that Trump won only narrowly, but Democrats have reason to be optimistic here because former Representative Brad Ashford is running. He narrowly lost his seat last year, but any Democrat who could beat an incumbent in 2014 (as Ashford did) has the political skill to win in 2018. Already this is being rated as one of next year’s closest races, and if you live in Omaha I hope you’re used to political ads during Huskers games. At least those ads will be more entertaining than anything Mike Riley put on the field


Both political parties see Nebraska’s 2nd District as key in battle to control House

January 2, 2018



Voters of the Omaha metro area, get ready: You’re about to see a lot of political TV ads, receive a lot of mailers and encounter quite a few volunteers at your door or on your phone hoping to influence the outcome of the congressional election in Nebraska’s 2nd District.

Democrats are looking to pick up the 24 seats they need to retake control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and their path to doing so takes them through Omaha.

Meanwhile, Republicans want to create enough of a firewall to hold on to their majority, and they’ve made it clear that keeping U.S. Rep. Don Bacon in his seat is part of the strategy.

“I think the 2nd District is one of the most competitive races in the country, and I think it’s a must-win for Democrats to get back to the majority,” said Nathan Gonzalez, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, which provides nonpartisan analysis of campaigns.

In fact, he considers the seat representing Douglas County and western Sarpy County to be one of the top 20 most contested races in the country.

Voters will have two choices to make. In May, 2nd District Democrats will decide whether to send former Congressman Brad Ashford back for round two against Bacon or whether nonprofit executive Kara Eastman should take her first shot at the seat.

Then in November, voters will choose between the winner of the primary and Bacon.

And don’t expect to hear just from the candidates. National interest groups and both major political parties are likely to spend money and time trying to sway 2nd District voters.

Democrats appear to have history on their side. The president’s party nearly always loses seats in the House during a midterm election. So if that trend holds, the party of Republican President Donald Trump would be at a disadvantage going into 2018.

And Democrats are already working to increase that advantage here — the state party has hired a full-time staffer in the 2nd District to get voters to the polls for the eventual Democratic nominee.

Republicans, on the other hand, have the advantage of incumbency and of an uncontested primary. Bacon, a first-term congressman and retired brigadier general, has a campaign staff in place. And a political action committee affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan hired a full-time staffer in early 2017 for its own get-out-the-vote effort.

Several factors lead observers to see this as such a competitive seat in 2018.

One is simple voter registration: Republicans hold a voter registration lead of less than 15,000 over Democrats. With nearly 420,000 voters in the district — including just fewer than 100,000 independents — that advantage is negligible. And Bacon beat Ashford in 2016 by just 1 percentage point.

Add to that the fact that the best time to knock off an incumbent is during the first term. Plus, both parties have identified suburban voters as an important constituency to woo in 2018 — and the 2nd District has plenty of those.

So both parties will be closely watching Omaha.

But in the end, winning elections comes down to a basic formula, said University of Nebraska at Omaha political science professor Randall Adkins: a good candidate who can raise money and finds a message that resonates.

“It’s a good year for the Democrat to run in a district like this,” he said, and the question is “Can they raise the money and can they find the message?”

In terms of money, Ashford and Eastman have both lagged behind Bacon, though the incumbent started fundraising much earlier than them.

After the last quarter, which ended Oct. 15, Ashford had $100,000 in the bank, Eastman had $50,000 and Bacon had nearly $500,000. The next campaign finance report, which covers the quarter ending Sunday, comes out next month.

As far as message, Ashford, a former longtime state legislator and one-term congressman, will be telling voters that he has “always been a voice for progress, a voice for reason,” said his campaign strategist, Ian Russell.

Eastman said her overarching message to voters will be that she wants to bring Nebraska values and consistency to the congressional seat. She said her campaign is “what people are looking for right now, which is real change that they can get behind in a big way.”

She’s also taken some positions to the left of Ashford — most notably supporting a proposal to expand Medicare to cover all Americans.

And from the Bacon camp, campaign manager Mary Jane Truemper said voters will hear a lot about his accomplishments, integrity and leadership during his first term and in his military career.

She said Bacon is “an energetic and enthusiastic candidate. He’s the best asset to this campaign.”

Of course, each of the candidates will face criticism.

Voters are likely to hear that Ashford is a flip-flopper because he’s changed his mind on issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline, which he previously supported but recently said he opposes. But, Russell said, his campaign will argue that Ashford is willing to compromise, and changes his mind given new information — but he doesn’t compromise on his values.

Eastman’s first challenge, according to Adkins, will be to prove to primary voters and donors that she has the experience to be competitive in the general election.

Eastman said she can do that.

“This isn’t the time for complacency,” she said. “This isn’t the time for resting on our laurels. We need somebody who is going to work for this seat, and that person is me.”

As for Bacon, Democrats will attempt to paint him as a follow-the-party-line Republican and try to turn that into a liability.

“It’s a very clear case between a guy who’s always stuck with his values and always pushed for progress versus Don Bacon, who’s been nothing but a lockstep rubber stamp for Donald Trump and Paul Ryan,” Russell said.

Bacon has voted with Trump and the Republican House leadership 96.6 percent of the time, according to the news website FiveThirtyEight, which tracks political polls and other statistics.

He has taken a moderate position on at least one issue: He has said he supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows young people brought to the country illegally as children to live and work in the U.S. He did not, however, sign on to a letter with 34 other Republican House members urging a fix for the program.

Truemper said the Bacon campaign’s response to the criticism is that Bacon makes the decisions that are best for the district.

“He puts the 2nd District and the voters at the forefront,” she said. “He’s not anybody’s rubber stamp or puppet.”

Now it’s time for the campaigns and others to spend money and effort getting their messages in front of voters, so expect to see lots of advertisements, mailings and door flyers in the 19 weeks before the May 15 primary.


National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare endorses Ashford

December 22, 2017

Omaha, NE – Brad Ashford announced support from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) today.


“Social Security and Medicare are a bedrock for our senior community,” Ashford said. “During my time in Congress I worked tirelessly to strengthen both programs. I look to continue working to ensure that Social Security and Medicare continue to provide for current recipients and those who will be covered in future generations. I am truly honored of the endorsement from NCPSSM.”


“We are pleased to announce our support of Brad Ashford and to help return him to Congress,” Max Richtman, President/CEO for NCPSSM, said. “His unwavering support for Social Security Disability payments, his efforts against budgets ending traditional Medicare, and his opposition to moving to a chained CPI are all platforms that work to strengthen these great programs. With the recent passage of the new tax bill and the dramatic cuts to Medicare that will occur we will be working overtime to communicate to those impacted.”




Laborers Local 1140 gives nod to Ashford

December 19, 2017

He has leadership to continue building our Community

Omaha, NE – Brad Ashford announced support from the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 1140 today.

“Through the years of working with my friends in the labor movement we have worked together to build the community we want to see,” Ashford said. “I am humbled and honored to receive an endorsement from the Laborers union and look forward to continuing to build upon our successes that put working men and women on the job creating successful projects.”

“When looking at who can achieve success in legislation and negotiations that puts our members to work, Ashford’s track record stands clearly above the rest,” Sam Renshaw, Business Manager for Local 1140, said. “We look forward to helping put Brad back in Congress and furthering the goals, both from a community standpoint and for our members.”

Laborers, Local 1140 is an affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) that represents over 400 members in the second congressional district. They represent construction workers, infrastructure workers, public employees, weatherization workers and workers who build green energy projects including wind and solar.




Ashford: Republican tax plan not the path forward for Nebraska Families

December 19, 2017

Bacon throws fiscal responsibility out the Window

 Omaha, NE – Brad Ashford released the following statement about the recent vote by Congressman Don Bacon on the Republican tax plan.  

“This vote is not the path forward for Nebraska families,” Ashford said. “It is unconscionable to me what has occurred over this process. Bacon just voted, again, to finance a tax giveaway to the wealthiest amongst us on the backs of working families and to explode our deficit at a time when fiscal responsibility is sorely needed. America could use a strong two fold infusion, targeted tax breaks to the middle class to continue their expansion and investing in our infrastructure to ensure our competitive advantage. We can do this in a deficit neutral fashion and working in a bipartisan manner is how we get there. I will continue to fight for responsible, bipartisan legislation that helps working families and to ensure that we are keeping our fiscal house in order. My opponent has thrown fiscal responsibility out the window and Nebraska families will not forget.”   




2018 Midterm Elections Forecast

December 4, 2017

The Crosstab: Data and Democracy | Blog by G. Elliot Morris

Chance of Winning a House Majority: Popular Vote Forecast

In my projection of the two-party election day vote share, based on polls of the generic ballot, The Democratic Party is ahead, earning 54.4% of the two-party vote share on average. The margin of error is roughly 4.1% points, meaning the Democrats could earn as little as 50.3% or as much as 58.5% of the vote.

But, because Democrats are clustered in cities and face harsh gerrymanders, they aren’t expected to win an equivalent share of the seats in Congress. What does electoral geography tell us about the actual outcome? Below are the generic congressional ballot polls used to make that projection: FOLLOW LINK

Outlined seats are the top 20 “tipping point” districts.

Simulated Seats Over Time

Democrats earn a median of 218 seats  in our simulations of the 2018 midterms. This may differ from the strict predictions below because of the larger number of Lean Republican seats than Lean Democratic seats in the current Congress. Effectively we are saying that the below number is an ideal estimate, meant to give you context as to which seats are competitive, but that we expect Democrats to overperform expectations based on the assessment of our error in past predictions.

Individual Seat Projections

Using the average vote share for each district over all of our simulations, we can identify both the districts that have the best chance of flipping parties and the chance that that happens.

Democrats: 211
Republicans: 224

Democrats are likely to pick up 18 seats on November 6, 2018. Republicans are favored to gain 1 seat, for a net gain of 17 seats for the Democratic Party.

Seats Likely to Flip Parties in 2018: FOLLOW LINK

Who’s Vulnerable?

The graph below stacks each House seat on top of eachother above the percentage share of the vote I forecast for the Democratic candidate in the district. The gray shaded area represents a 5% margin of error — roughly what we expect given past error in the national generic ballot polls — identifying vulnerable seats that could be won by either Democrats or Republicans.


Tipping Points and the Majority Power Indicator (MPI)

Districts that usually fall in the middle of the pack are “tipping point” districts. They tell us that, in a tied election, these districts most likely land the 218th seat for the winning party. For Democrats, the “tipping point” district is the one that gives them the 24th seat they need to win the election given that they’ve already won 23 other seats (most likely the ones detailed above).

The Majority Power Indicator (MPI) is simply a measure of the increase in the probability that a given party wins the House majority given that they win a given seat. Mathematically, MPI is equal to (1) difference between (A) the number of trials a party wins a given seat and wins the House majority minus the number of trials they win that seat but lose the majority and (B) the number of trials that a party loses a given seat and wins the House majority minus number of trials they lose that seat but lose the majority, (2) all divided by the number of trials/simulations in our forecast model.

Together, the tipping point index and MPI tell us which House districts are most instrumental in producing control of the House majority. More information can be found here.

Race Ratings

Each seat is given a vulnerability rating based on the following scale for either party:

  • Tossup: win margin less than 5%
  • Lean Dem./Rep.: win margin betwee 5% and 15%
  • Likely Dem./Rep.: win margin between 15% and 25%
  • Safe Dem./Rep.: win margin greater than 25%

Ratings also take into account qualitative factors like candidate characteristics, contest dynamics, fundraising, etc. And, as a general rule, no open seat forecast to change parties will ever be rated “Safe.”

These ratings are available on the model’s companion post at Decision Desk HQ.

Possible Outcomes

Of course, there is error in our forecasts — measurable error. We can account for that error by simulating the election thousands of times, asking the computer each time to pick random error for national polling that is based on error from past predictions. Then for each “election’s” national error we also generate an error for each congressional district, basing each of those 435 individual errors on what the error is in districts that have performed the same in the past. (So, for example, if a simulated error adds 4% for the Democratic candidate in a district that voted for Romney and Trump by 5%, the error would around 4% for other districts that voted similarly. This is called correlated random error.)

Here’s the distribution of total number of Democratic House seats after engaging in that exercise:

We can take all of those simulations of Democratic seat shares and further ask “what is the chance that Democrats win the election, given the chance that Democrats or Republicans beat expectations?”

Democrats have a 51.8 percent chance of winning a House Majority of November 6, 2018. You can imagine that the rectangle below is a dart board, and if you randomly threw a dart anywhere at the rectangle whichever square you land on corresponds to the party that wins the House majority.


Ashford: Republican tax plan is devastating to Nebraska families

November 16, 2017

Targeting the middle-class is just plain wrong

Omaha, NE – Brad Ashford released the following statement addressing Congressman Don Bacon’s vote for the Republican tax plan:

“Rather than looking out for the middle class and hardworking Nebraskans, Representative Bacon just voted for a tax plan that hikes taxes on the middle class in order to give excessive tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy and big corporations. This is wrong and not how we conduct ourselves in Nebraska,” Ashford said. “In my time in office, I didn’t look to slash Medicare, Medicaid, raise taxes on the middle class and explode the deficit. This vote exemplifies the fundamental difference between Bacon and me. While Bacon votes along party lines, regardless of the harm it will inflict on middle-class families, I fight to protect hardworking Nebraskans. The issue of who looks out for Nebraska will be front and center throughout this campaign, and I will stand on the right side of history.”   



New Poll: Trump and Bacon Underwater in Omaha, Suburbs

November 14, 2017

By Joe Jordan | November 14, 2017

Omaha, NE.—A new poll finds the GOP brand in and around Omaha  unpopular—numbers that arguably find Republican Congressman Don Bacon facing an uphill struggle going into next year’s re-election.

The poll, done by the left-leaning and sometimes questioned Public Policy Polling group, finds President Trump struggling in the 2nd Congressional District while Bacon is trailing former Congressman Brad Ashford by nine points—Ashford 49 percent to Bacon’s 40 percent. Those numbers mirror Bacon’s 48 percent unfavorable rating; 40 percent approve of the job Bacon is doing.

In 2016 Bacon beat then-Congressman Ashford by 3,400 votes (1.2 percent) in one of the country’s tightest races. The poll did not include—and doesn’t even mention— Kara Eastman, Ashford’s opponent in next May’s Democratic primary, and Eastman’s campaign isn’t happy.

While glad to hear “what we already know”— that Bacon can be beaten next year—Eastman spokesman Dave Pantos tells News Channel Nebraska that Democrats in DC are playing favorites.  “The House Majority PAC has failed to realize that there is a Democratic primary that takes place before the general election”, says Pantos. “Kara Eastman is running a grassroots campaign that is focused on giving the residents of the Nebraska Second a read choice for their next representative.”

The Bacon campaign has not been available for comment.

President Trump’s disapproval rating in the district is worse than Bacon’s. Fifty-four percent disapprove of the job Trump is doing, 42 percent approve. According to PPP, the poll done by automated telephone interviews has a 4.2 percent margin of error and surveyed 535 voters in the 2nd District on November 8 and 9.

Patriot Majority USA which bills itself as nonpartisan paid for the poll which also found Speaker of the House Paul Ryan with a 62 percent disapproval rating.

In addition the GOP tax plan came up short in the survey: 51 percent oppose it, 68 percent say it’s a tax cut for the wealthy and 65 percent say it will increase the deficit.