Nebraska's 3rd congressional district seat encompasses the western three-fourths of the state; it is one of the largest non-at-large Congressional districts in the country, covering nearly 65,000 square miles (170,000 km2), two time zones and 68.5 counties. It includes Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, North Platte, and Scottsbluff.
Nebraska has had at least three congressional districts since 1883. The district's current configuration dates from 1963, when Nebraska lost a seat as a result of the 1960 United States Census. At that time, most of the old 3rd and 4th districts were merged to form the new 3rd District.
The district is one of the most Republican districts in the nation. Democrats have only come close to winning this district twice as currently drawn, in 1974 and 2006; and Republican presidential and gubernatorial candidates routinely carry the district with margins of 40 percent or more. Although Nebraska's state legislature is elected on a nonpartisan basis, all but one state senator representing a significant portion of the district is known to be a Republican.
It is currently held by Republican Adrian Smith. The previous congressman, Tom Osborne, did not seek reelection in order to wage an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for governor of Nebraska.