Are we in Kansas anymore?
The Senate race in Kansas, a deeply Republican stronghold, might just be turning into a major wild card in this year's election cycle — thanks to the deep unpopularity of Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.
A new poll from Democratic-aligned firm Public Policy Polling gives Roberts only 32 percent — but still in first place — followed by Democratic nominee Chad Taylor, the district attorney of Shawnee County (the Topeka area) with 25 percent; and independent candidate Greg Orman, a businessman and political centrist, with 23 percent. The survey of likely voters was conducted from August 14 to 17, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Roberts plainly benefits from the split vote against him. When respondents were asked about a hypothetical two-way race between Roberts and Taylor, Robert was ahead 43 percent to 39 percent. But in another two-way match, Orman would lead Roberts, 43 percent to 33 percent. Roberts' approval rating is also only 27 percent, with 44 percent disapproval.
Earlier this month, Roberts only narrowly won against a primary challenge from a Tea Party-backed opponent, with a major issue having been Roberts' lack of an actual home in Kansas. In the new poll, only 18 percent of voters say he spends enough time in the state, compared to 61 percent who say he does not. Also, 50 percent believe that he considers Washington to be his home, against only 30 percent who think he considers Kansas as home.
To be clear, though, history alone suggests that Robert remains the favorite; Kansas has not elected a Democrat (or any other non-Republican) to the Senate since 1932, the year of President Franklin Roosevelt's first landslide victory.