A UNL political science professor talks about the importance of this year’s primary elections


LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Nebraska’s primary election is on Tuesday and 10/11 NOW spoke with UNL political science professor John Hibbing about the significance of the 2022 primary election.

He said that historically the state of Nebraska has voted red and has been red for the past 30 years. In the last three gubernatorial races, Nebraskanians have elected Mike Johanns, Dave Heineman and now Governor Pete Ricketts.

Hibbing said if history repeats itself, early results could point to Nebraska’s next governor. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen, and he explained how this primary election will have an impact beyond Nebraska.

“There is some national significance because of this indication of Trump’s power,” Hibbing said. “A lot of Trump-endorsed candidates across the country are going to win anyway and that’s not really the case here with Herbster. That’s why it’s important nationally, but locally because it’s going to be very probably the next governor of Nebraska If that follows suit, we tend to re-elect governors so he can be the next governor for eight years and that’s a big decision.

For reference, Nebraska’s last two governors, Heineman and Ricketts, were both re-elected for second terms.

Another interesting aspect of this primary election season is the amount of political advertising. 10/11 received a number of messages about attacks on other candidates. We asked Professor Hibbing what kind of impact these types of ads have on an election.

He said normally when there is an open seat it brings out a pretty crowded Republican field, much like this year. In turn, this creates tight races. For example, Governor Pete Ricketts was able to win the primary but only by a few thousand votes. Hibbing said the tight race leads to dirtier campaigns and this year maybe even dirtier. With crowded fields, ideas about politics are normally very similar, leading candidates to launch personal attacks.

“It’s not new, I think it’s getting a bit worse, there have been personal attacks and in previous campaigns some have been quite brutal,” Hibbing said. “It’s not new but it’s going in a direction that we don’t like, I think the personal attacks have become more intense. We blame the candidates a lot, but some of the blame goes to the voters who we tend to blame. react to this stuff.

Voting will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT on May 10. You can follow this link to access our comprehensive voter guide and visit our website or app for up-to-date election coverage.

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