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New Senate: DEM 49     Ties 1     GOP 50

New polls: IA KS
Dem pickups: GA

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The Battle for Kansas Has Started

The real reason Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach (R) refused to remove Chad Taylor's name from the ballot even though the Democrat has abandoned his race is now apparent: Kansas has quite a few what are euphemistically called "low-information voters." A new SurveyUSA poll taken after Taylor gave up shows 10% of the voters still supporting him even though he is not running any more. These are undoubtedly people who don't like Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) but don't realize that the way to get rid of him is to vote for Greg Orman (I).

Normally debates in a Senate election in Kansas don't get a lot of attention, but with the withdrawal of the Democratic candidate and the real possibility that independent Greg Orman could win, suddenly Kansas is in the spotlight. In the first debate, Roberts was running more against majority leader Harry Reid than against his actual opponent. Orman--who won't say which party he will caucus with--tried to maintain his independence by attacking both parties. One thing he didn't do was go after Roberts for living in Virginia rather than Kansas, as his primary opponent did.

This puts the Democrats in a tricky situation. They can't openly endorse Orman since that would destroy his independence. What they can and probably will do is run attack ads against Roberts and one issue to attack is where he lives. He has visited Kansas only seven times this year, which is pretty low. Most senators try to get home two or three times a month if possible. To make things worse for Roberts, on the form he has filled out 27 times for campaign reimbursements, every time he listed Alexandria, VA, as his home. His problem, of course, is that he doesn't have a mailing address in Kansas. In retrospect, he probably should have rented a small apartment in Kansas, just to have a place to receive mail, but he didn't. While he is not wealthy as senators go, with a net worth of $750,000 he could have afforded to rent a small apartment somewhere in Kansas, just to have a mailing address. It might even have been financially neutral since he sometimes stays in hotels when he does visit the state.

Ten 2014 Races That Will Matter in 2016

Some 2014 races have major implications for 2016. The National Journal has made a list of the top 10 of these. These are briefly summarized below.

  1. Wisconsin governor - if Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) wins he will probably run for President
  2. Colorado Senate - if Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is reelected, people will see Colorado as a blue state
  3. Iowa Senate - if Joni Ernst (R) wins, her endorsement in the Iowa caucuses will be gold
  4. New Hampshire Senate - if Scott Brown (R) wins, his endorsement in New Hampshire will be helpful
  5. North Carolina Senate - if Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) wins without Obama on the ticket, NC is officially purple
  6. Arkansas Senate - if Bill and Hillary Clinton can save Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), it burnishes their credentials
  7. Ohio governor - a big margin here makes Gov. John Kasich into presidential material
  8. Florida governor - if Charlie Crist (D) wins, he can rebuild the Florida Democratic Party
  9. Nevada lieutenant governor - if Brian Sandoval's #2 wins, Sandoval might challenge Harry Reid in 2016
  10. Kentucky legislature - a Republican takeover means Rand Paul can run for President and senator in 2016

Constitutional Amendment to Regulate Campaign Finances Advances in the Senate

With vast amounts of dark money pouring into campaigns since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, Democrats in the Senate are trying to amend the Constitution to allow Congress to regulate campaign spending. A bill proposing such an amendment passed a test yesterday and will be debated on the Senate floor. Both parties want to debate it. The Democrats want to show that billionaires are buying elections. The Republicans want to show that Democrats are against free speech. The bill needs a 2/3 vote in both chambers of Congress and then ratification by 3/4 of the states before it can take effect. The chances of that happening are nil.

Michelle Obama Hits Campaign Trail

Even though the fate of his last two years as President depends on who controls the Senate in January, President Obama is handcuffed because he is quite unpopular in the states where the key elections are so he has to stay away. However, he has found an alternative way to help Democrats out: send his wife. Michelle Obama, who is quite popular, hit the campaign trail yesterday for the first time, going to Georgia to campaign for Michelle Nunn (D) who is running against David Perdue (R) for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). Michelle Obama's goal is to energize women and get them to turn out and vote for Nunn.

Obama Asks for Five Billion Dollars to Go after ISIS

Most voters trust the Republicans more than the Democrats on national defense, so President Obama is trying to neutralize that advantage by asking Congress for $5 billion to attack ISIS. This gives endangered Democrats the chance to act hawkish just before an election and puts the Republicans in the position of having to spend money, something they prefer not to do. By forcing Congress to vote on the measure, Obama is also protecting himself from later accusations that he acted without Congressional consent, even though he isn't actually asking for consent, just money.

Today's Senate Polls

A new poll from SurveyUSA has shown that the withdrawal of Democrat Chad Taylor has had an enormous impact on the Kansas Senate race. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and independent Greg Orman are now statistically tied. In the poll before this one, in late August, Orman was at 20%; now he is at 37%. Clearly he picked up most of Taylor's support but there are still some Democrats out there who haven't got the word that Taylor is out.

The map shows the Democrats at 49, Republicans at 50 and 1 tie, meaning Orman because he won't say which party he will caucus with. If this scenario comes true, Orman will be the deciding vote in the new Senate. He could demand and get practically anything.

Actually, it is even worse than that because while we have "allocated" Louisiana to the Republicans, that won't be known until the runoff on Dec. 6. Between Nov. 4 and Dec. 6 there could be a lot of uncertainty, even without Franken-Coleman type reCounts, which is also a possibility.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Iowa Bruce Braley 45% Joni Ernst 41%     Sep 02 Sep 05 Loras College
Kansas Chad Taylor 10% Pat Roberts* 36% Greg Orman 37% Sep 04 Sep 07 SurveyUSA

* Denotes incumbent

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