Nearly 6,000 Voters Joined Nebraska GOP One Month Before Primary

May 2, 2022, 8:45 p.m. ·

Lindstrom, Herbster & Pillen posing in three separate photos side by side by side.
Based on internal candidate polls, current Republican gubernatorial frontrunners: Brett Lindstrom, Charles Herbster and Jim Pillen. (Photo Illustration by Will Bauer / Courtesy Photos)

Nebraska’s Republican Party gained another 5,969 voters in April, according to new numbers from the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office. Those nearly 6,000 voters appear to be coming from some of the state’s Democratic and independent voters. 

From April to May, Nebraska lost 3,514 Democratic voters and about 2,083 nonpartisans, marking the second straight month where Nebraska Republicans have gained voters. And while those numbers don’t perfectly add up to what the Republicans have gained, many appear to be switching to vote in the tightly contested governor’s race. 

"Unlike when Republicans left their party after insurrection and never came back, Democrats temporarily left hoping to stop the worst of the radical Republicans," said Jane Kleeb, the chairwoman of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "We are confident they will be back as Democrats the day after the primary."

Polls indicate it’s a three-way race between Jim Pillen, Charles Herbster and Brett Lindstrom – who all poll in the 20s. Theresa Thibodeau consistently polls in the high single digits. The polling also reveals as much as 24% of GOP voters are undecided.

The state GOP closed off its primaries this year. In order to cast a ballot in the Republican primary, Nebraskans must be registered with the party.

In 2014 – the last time there was a tightly-contested race – six Republicans candidates appeared on the ballot for the governor's race. Four of them were contenders and got more than 10% of votes. Gov. Pete Ricketts came out on top with 27% of the party's vote. Jon Bruning finished in second place with 25% of the vote, which is a margin of 2,347. Ricketts won the GOP nomination with 58,671 votes.