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OK, let's take an updated look at the political battleground in Nebraska.

New charts compiled by David Drozd at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Center for Public Affairs Research — based on the latest voter registration figures from the secretary of state's office — paint a picture of structural Republican advantage.

Republican dominance is enormous in western and central Nebraska's 3rd Congressional District, substantial in eastern Nebraska's 1st District and more marginal in metropolitan Omaha's 2nd District.

Republicans hold a voter registration advantage in 39 of the state's 49 non-partisan legislative districts. All of those districts with a Democratic registration advantage are located in metropolitan Omaha or Lincoln. 

Statewide, the scorecard is 585,483 Republicans; 362,994 Democrats, 258,789 non-partisans and 14,878 Libertarians.  

So, the bottom line here is that it's really, really hard for a Republican to lose statewide, or in two of the three House districts, once he or she has secured the GOP nomination.

The competitive exception, of course, is the 2nd District House seat in metropolitan Omaha.

The voter registration breakdown there is 38.4 percent Republican, 35.8 percent Democratic and 24.4 percent non-partisan. The key is voter turnout. 

And the recent political reality is that the Democrat most often wins Omaha and then a Republican tide from Sarpy County overwhelms that Douglas County vote and carries the GOP nominee to victory.

Not always, just more often than not.

And that's why the 2nd Congressional District will be Ground Zero when legislative mapmakers tackle redistricting following the 2020 census with the freedom granted by the U.S. Supreme Court now to engineer partisan gerrymandering openly and without any federal judicial consequence.

* * *

Let's take a look at the Legislature.

The redistricting spotlight will also shine on the composition of legislative districts as senators maneuver — or battle — over the division of urban and rural seats.

You could argue that the legislative redistricting showdown really is the most consequential battleground based on the power of the Legislature to immediately determine state policy that directly impacts lives.

New census figures will call for a 27-22 division of urban-rural seats compared to today's 25-24 split. But aggressive redistricting alternatives are already being considered that might hold that new urban edge to 26-23.

The difference in that urban-rural split is consequential because that division of legislative power would remain in place for 10 years even while rural Nebraska's actual share of the population continues to steadily decline.

Although the Legislature is non-partisan, the reality is that rural senator usually translates into Republican and conservative while urban senator tends to mean Democratic and more moderate or progressive in terms of legislative policy. That's in general terms; there are exceptions.

Of course, the political parties get involved in elections for state senators, but the Legislature is not organized or controlled by political parties or party caucuses or partisan divisions. Party affiliation does not rule.

Four Nebraska state senators who are Democrats in a chamber full of Republicans currently serve as elected committee chairpersons; the deeply partisan Congress would not even be able to fathom such a possibility.

Only 10 legislative districts currently count more registered Democrats than Republicans, but 18 elected senators are registered Democrats.

And that's dramatic evidence of what can happen when voters are choosing between candidates, not just voting R or D.

Thirty current senators are registered Republicans and Ernie Chambers is the sole non-partisan.

In this non-partisan legislative body, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi aren't directing traffic, dropping hammers, erecting roadblocks and taking names.

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This ain't the Congress — and that's a really good thing. 

* * *

In the midst of last week's traffic on Twitter:

@GovRicketts: Our flag is the symbol of our country's freedom, which Americans across the country will proudly celebrate this week on Independence Day. @Nike's decision not only disrespects our flag, but also the free enterprise system that made their brand great.

@AFROTHUNDER80: You see the flag that way, that is your opinion. There are a lot of people that think that flag stands for tyranny, racism and oppression. To say either opinion is absolute is narrow-minded and ignorant. Have to learn to empathize with one another so we can grow together.

That, of course, is the voice of former Husker Kenny Bell.

* * *

Finishing up:

* The University of Nebraska Medical Center's spectacular HIV research breakthrough, in tandem with Temple University, is the latest evidence of the star quality of that NU campus. Setting the bar high. 

* Twitter also turned into a brief battleground last week between Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and former Sen. Bill Kintner.

* And, while we're glancing at Twitter traffic, this from somebody named Julie Roginsky jumped out in the wake of President Trump's 4th of July speech: "Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight flight delay of Paul Revere."

* Baseball time-out and all is well.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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