Nebraska 1st District
The eastern half of Nebraska, between the Missouri River and the 98th parallel, was laid out in relentless Midwestern mile-square grids and became some of America’s prime farmland during the 1880s. The Plains here have completed most of their gentle decline from the Rockies to sea level, and the land has contours just regular enough, and weather just favorable enough, to make farming economically viable. The area was settled by Yankee-descended farmers from the Midwest and immigrants from Germany and other countries. Traces of the immigrant heritage can still be found. Many people from Luxembourg, for example, settled along the Platte River in Butler County, where St. Mary’s Presentation Parish still has a statue of Our Lady of Luxembourg. Not far away are villages with names that recall other immigrant groups—Prague (Czechs), Malmo (Swedes), Aloys (Germans). Today, a new wave of immigrants is coming to eastern Nebraska, including Latinos from Mexico and the southwest United States, to work in the meatpacking factories in the area. Wakefield, in Dixon County, had the highest percentage increase in Hispanic population in the country in the 1990s at 8,700%, though the number is less impressive considering the Hispanic population grew from 4 to 348. But there are larger numbers in other towns, and the district’s demographic face is changing.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 1st Congressional District of Nebraska comprises 22 full counties and parts of two others in an easternmost slice of the state. It surrounds but does not take in Omaha and most of its suburbs, which are in the 2nd District. It’s anchored by Lincoln, the state capital and home of the beloved University of Nebraska Huskers football team. Lincoln has been growing rapidly. It is affluent, with above-national-average incomes and unemployment among the lowest in the United States. Underway east of downtown Lincoln is the $238 million Antelope Valley urban renewal project, which is expected to spur further economic development. In the smaller towns, there are significant numbers of farm equipment and meatpacking factories. Population growth has been robust around Schuyler, Norfolk, and Dakota City. Politically, Lincoln is fond of moderate Democrats but is still on balance Republican in national contests. The district voted 63% for George W. Bush in 2004 and 54% for John McCain in 2008.