According to a KSN News poll published on Tuesday, October 28, the U.S. Senate race in Kansas is in a statistical tie. Independent Greg Orman has a slight lead in the poll at 44 percent, but U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is only trailing by two percentage points -- inside the margin of error (+/- 4%).
Out of all the Senate races people will be watching on Election Day to see how the balance of power shifts for the 114th Congress, very few people predicted so many eyes would be on Kansas in the beginning of the campaign season. Now, it may be THE race that determines the fate of the upper chamber.
The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for KSN, shows that 10 percent of respondents remain undecided this close to November 4 -- including 21 percent of young voters. The race could come down to demographics that were once overlooked in Kansas because of its traditional "red-state" status.However, while Orman holds on to a slight lead in public opinion polls, that doesn't always translate into votes. In recent elections, Republicans have been the most enthusiastic demographic to vote, meaning Roberts may actually have the advantage going into Election Day.
That being said, Roberts is not popular with all Republicans. According to the KSN report, "Roberts holds 67 percent of the Republican base." Twenty-three percent of voters who identify as Republican said they support Orman, while 3 percent said they plan to vote for Libertarian Randall Batson and 7 percent remain undecided.
Depending on how those 7 percent vote (if they vote), it could make or break Roberts' re-election campaign. As it is for any competitive race, the outcome will come down to voter turnout. Will Orman be able to turn out the anti-incumbent vote? Can Roberts convince more dissatisfied Republicans to vote for him?
This race is making many politicos nervous because if public opinion polls hold in other states, the Kansas Senate race will decide how power shifts in the Senate. Three independent lawmakers (if Orman wins) could have the most influence in policy decisions if neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a clear advantage.
It isn't entirely clear what voter turnout is going to look like in Kansas on Election Day, but increased national attention may give it a significant boost from what it would have been if the field of candidates had not changed in the Senate race. The most important thing for Kansas voters to keep in mind is that it is important to participate in the process no matter how competitive a race is -- so vote.
Photo Source: NBC News