UNL political science professor speaks on importance of this year’s primary election

Hibbing said if history repeats itself, the primary results could indicate Nebraska’s next governor.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 8:10 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska’s Primary Election is on Tuesday and 10/11 NOW spoke with a UNL Political Science professor, John Hibbing, on the importance of the 2022 primary election.

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

Hibbing said if history repeats itself, the primary results could indicate 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 just Nebraska.

“There’s some national importance because of this indication of how powerful trump is,” Hibbing said. “Many of the candidates Trump’s endorsed around the country have been going to win anyways and that’s not really clearly the case here with Herbster. That’s why it’s important nationally, but locally because this is most likely going to be the next governor of Nebraska. If it follows suit, we tend to reelect governors so it could be the next governor for eight years and that’s an important decision.”

For reference, Nebraska’s past two governors, Heineman and Ricketts were both re-elected for a second term.

Another interesting aspect of this primary election season is the amount of political ads. 10/11 has received a number of messages about the 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 fairly crowded republican field much like this year. In turn, it makes for tight races. For example, Governor Pete Ricketts was able to win the primary but just by a few thousand votes. Hibbing said the tight race leads to dirtier campaigns and this year maybe even more so. With crowded fields, ideas on policy are normally very similar, leading to candidates bringing on personal attacks.

“This is not new, I do think it’s getting a little bit worse there have been personal attacks and in previous campaigns some have been quite rough,” Hibbing said. “This isn’t brand new but it is going in a direction that we don’t like, I think the personal attacks have been becoming more intense. We blame candidates a lot, but some of the blame is on voters that we do tend to respond to these types of things.”

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

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