Republicans are trailing in two races with national implications in Kansas, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday.
Both US Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican senator who has been in office since 1997, and Gov. Sam Brownback, a first-term governor running for re-election, are trailing their respective challengers in the poll. Roberts is 5 points behind Independent candidate and businessman Greg Orman, while Brownback sits 4 points behind Democrat Paul Davis.
Kansas, a state that traditionally skews Republican, has become one of the most interesting electoral battlegrounds in the country with Orman’s sudden rise and Brownback’s stunning fall.
“Orman has dabbled in both Republican and Democratic politics over the years and says he will be a moderate in the tradition of Kansan Bob Dole, so it will be interesting to see whether this fresh face will prevail in the state that was the subject of a book examining ‘How Conservatives Won the Heart of America,'” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.
The poll was released on the same day Orman got more good news in his quest to unseat Roberts. A Kansas court ruled Democrats do not have to replace Chad Taylor on the ballot. Taylor dropped out of the race last month, something that helped boost Orman’s chances at victory.
Orman has not said which party he will caucus with if he’s elected, and many speculate his decision will hinge on which party ultimately controls the body.
Roberts’ trouble comes from voters viewing him in an unfavorable light. Overall, 39% of voters view both Orman and Roberts favourably. But Roberts is viewed unfavorably by 47% of Kansans, compared with just 25% who say the same about Orman.
The Suffolk poll of 500 likely voters was conducted from Saturday through Tuesday, and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4%.
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