(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Kansas has always been a strange place for politics. Since joining the Union as a slave free state on January 29, 1861, Kansas has been one of the most socially conservative states of the union, driving its politics off the right wing cliff. Currently, Republican Senator Pat Roberts is in a tight fight to maintain his seat, barely winning his primary. His Democratic challenger, Chad Taylor, withdrew from the race at the last minute this week but Kansas Secretary of State says his name must remain on the ballot. Still, this gives the better funded Independent candidate, Greg Orman, a shot at unseating Roberts in what would be a real upset
Polling analysts, who usually sneer at the possibility of “game-changers” disrupting the fundamental trends of a race, are now all worked up about the game-changing possibilities on display here. Nate Silver declares that the Kansas Senate race “just got crazy,” adding that his “totally wild guess” early on is that the contest is now a “toss up.” (Studious Nate, as always, would like to think about this for a little while.) Princeton’s Sam Wang puts Orman’s “winGO probability at 85 percent,” meaning “the probability of Democratic control of the Senate is about to pop up by 20-30 percent.” Nathan Gonzalez, writing at the Rothenberg Political Report, dubs Roberts the “most vulnerable Republican Senator in the country.” [..]
The race will hinge on how Orman chooses to define himself and how Roberts and the Republicans choose to define Orman. If it breaks down into an effective Democrat vs. Republican race, you’d think, just given the fact that this is Kansas in a strong Republican year with an unpopular Democratic president, that Roberts would be able to pull it off. But if Orman can manage to maintain the “independent” image and marry a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, then he could pull off this most unlikely of upsets.
However, the Democrats need to be careful about wishing for an Orman win. It may not change anything since Orman, a Republican who once ran as a Democrat, has parked himself in the middle
The problem for election forecasters is that Orman has given a novel answer to the question of which party he would caucus with should he win. “If one party is clearly in the majority,” Orman’s campaign website says, “he will seek to caucus with the party that was in the majority as that would be in the best interest for the state of Kansas.”
More importantly, Orman has been coy about what he might do in the event his caucus choice would determine which party held the majority. “If I get elected, there’s a reasonable chance that neither party will have a majority in Washington,” Orman told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. “If that is the case, I’m gonna caucus with whichever party is willing to actually go to Washington and start trying to solve problems as opposed to just pleasing the extremists in their own base.” [..]
If either party wins a majority with room to spare, Orman’s choice is irrelevant. If Democrats end up with 50 seats or Republicans win 51, Orman can give the majority party one extra vote, but his choice will not decide which party takes control. (Vice President Joe Biden votes with the Democrats to break ties, so Democrats would have a working majority with 50 votes in their caucus.) However, if the Democrats hold 49 seats and the Republicans win 50, Orman will be in a position to determine the majority.
Add to the fact that the very unpopular Republican governor, Sam Brownback, is in serious jeopardy of losing to a Democrat, Paul Davis, makes Kansas worth watching.
Kansas has been crazy for a long time, maybe now the voters are fed up with the crazies. As Doc Maddow would say: Keep watching this space.