Maybe lightning will strike twice. Nebraska Democrats certainly hope so. Party leaders formally decided over the weekend to hold presidential caucuses in 2016, no doubt hoping that somehow they might be able to approach the success they enjoyed in 2008 when the state party first jumped into those waters. With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton locked in a marathon struggle for the party’s presidential nomination, the Nebraska caucuses in early February suddenly mattered in terms of national convention votes and momentum. Obama came to Omaha to address a precaucus campaign rally that attracted 10,000 Nebraskans; Michelle Obama showed up on the UNL campus the next day. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, dropped in for a quick campaign tour on behalf of her mother.
Obama ultimately won 16 of the 24 national convention delegate votes determined by precinct caucuses with the other eight committed to Clinton.
Then, as autumn approached, the Obama campaign decided to target metropolitan Omaha’s congressional district presidential electoral vote. And, in November, Obama won it, swiping one electoral vote from a dependably Republican state.
The 2008 caucuses attracted new people and provided a database for Democratic campaign workers, volunteers and voters. In Lincoln alone, 10,882 Democrats attended more than 200 precinct caucuses.