Deb Fischer's late surge continues to be the focal point of the ongoing post-election analysis of the Republican Senate race.

No doubt, there is agreement that Fischer was closing fast as the GOP primary campaign headed to the finish line.

Internal polling by Jon Bruning's campaign spotted her moving past Don Stenberg into second place as the candidates rounded the final turn. But the Bruning campaign still expected to eke out a narrow win when voters went to the polls Election Day.

What propelled Fischer? No doubt, her own efforts. No doubt, also, the systematic takedown of Bruning by TV ads aired to benefit Stenberg. As voters decided to reject, and in some cases abandon, Bruning, many of them chose Fischer over Stenberg.

What gets tricky is trying to measure the effect of endorsements of Fischer by Sarah Palin and Jeff Fortenberry in the final week. There can be no doubt they gave Fischer's candidacy big-name legitimacy that told hesitant or doubting voters she could be the winner, not just a toss-away vote.

More critical is the post-mortem debate about whether the anti-Bruning and pro-Fischer TV ad blitz unleashed by Joe Ricketts and his Ending Spending organization on that final weekend sealed the deal for Fischer, boosting her over the top. Its effect may have been strongest in Omaha, where voter decisions were tentative and still up for grabs.

Bruning won Omaha, but not by the margin he needed.

Those ads generally were graded A-quality in terms of effectiveness, mixing a devastating attack on Bruning's character with an invitation to vote for Fischer as "one of us."

Bob Kerrey's campaign will argue that ad blitz is what did it for Fischer and suggest she now is bound to Ricketts. Fischer's supporters will tell you she had won the race before those ads appeared. It is going to be an issue in the campaign.

There is one useful measurement of the effect of the Palin endorsement tied to the emerging role of social media in the new political world.

"There was significant activity across all social media sites beginning May 9th when Sarah Palin endorsed Deb Fischer," according to VoterTide, a young, innovative Omaha-based company that has developed Web-based tools to help those in the world of politics "harness the power of social media" to accomplish their goals.

The Palin endorsement "caused near 100 percent increases in Facebook fans, Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers that continued" until Election Day, according to the tracking of social media traffic by VoterTide.

* * *

The early national political view of metropolitan Omaha's 2nd District House race is that Lee Terry is firmly positioned to win re-election in November.

Here's a roundup from Dave Boomer, the Republican congressman's campaign manager:

* The Cook Political Report last month moved the race from "lean" Republican to "solid" Republican.

* Stuart Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Report is predicting that 44 Republican House seats are in the play this autumn. Terry's seat is not on Rothenberg's list.

* Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics rates the race as "safe Republican" in his latest Crystal Ball analysis.

Terry is seeking his eighth term in a November showdown with Democratic nominee John Ewing, the Douglas County treasurer.

Finishing up:

* Can't imagine a swifter and more efficient street resurfacing project than we are experiencing in downtown Lincoln now.

* After weeks of Republican opposition focus on his 11 years in New York City, Bob Kerrey told Michael Gerson of The Washington Post: "We need to get to the part where we have a conversation" about entitlement reform.

* Ted Sorensen is treated with great respect by both the author and Lyndon Johnson in the newest volume of Robert Caro's LBJ biography. 

* Jane Kleeb and Brad Stevens (Americans for Prosperity) will go head to head about the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday in a joint appearance at Boys State and Girls State.

* Gonna see the River Dogs versus the Sand Gnats this weekend.  That's Charleston v. Savannah in the South Atlantic League. 

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or


Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

Load comments