Last week, in the Times, David Brooks diagnosed and decried a newish form of prejudice known as “partyism.” Citing the results of a recent study conducted by political scientists, and a recent column by Cass Sunstein, Brooks took stock of a world where research subjects express a much higher willingness to hire people who share their political beliefs, and where an increasing number of Democrats and Republicans say that they would prefer that their children not marry across party lines. Brooks wrote about how, in a “hyper-moralized” political atmosphere, a person’s political affiliation can become “a marker for basic decency.
The Kansas Senate race should be an afterthought in this year’s midterm election. But it’s become an unexpected focal point in the Republican Party’s bid to regain control of the U.S. Senate – and an outlet for voters to register their frustration with partisan gridlock in Washington, DC. That's why Kansas is one of the states NBC News will visit as part of our Meet the Voters bus tour. The reliably red state has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since the 1930s. But Senator Pat Roberts, who was elected to the Senate in 1996 and served in the House since 1981, has struggled this campaign.
The Senate races in South Dakota and Kansas may be examples of a rising political phenomenon: the smash-and-grab campaign. In both states, independent candidates have scrambled long-settled patterns. Races that were once considered safe wins for Republicans are attracting new money and attention from both parties. They will be hard-fought until Election Day. Usually you need three for a trend, and there are idiosyncrasies to both of these races that resist drawing grand conclusions, but with two weeks to go before the election, it is a time to start practicing grand-conclusion-drawing.
The image some conservatives have of Greg Orman, the wealthy businessman running as an independent against veteran Republican Sen. Pat Roberts here in Kansas, is that Orman is, in the words of a recent Weekly Standard story, a "vacuous cipher." Watching Orman's performance in a recent debate with Roberts before a business group in this large suburb of Kansas City, it's safe to say that image is wrong, or at least incomplete. Calling Orman a cipher suggests he has no positions, or nothing to say. But on some important topics, Orman outlined policies in more detail than Roberts. Some of Orman's views, although certainly not all, would fit comfortably within the range of Republican orthodoxy.
Independent Greg Orman leads Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Ks.), 41 percent to 34 percent, according to a poll released to HuffPost by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Six percent said they'd still vote for Democrat Chad Taylor, who has announced he's leaving the race, but whose name may remain on the ballot pending a lawsuit being heard Tuesday. Another 4 percent opted for libertarian Randall Batson, with the remaining 15 percent undecided. The PPP results find Roberts deeply unpopular, with a -17 net job approval rating among all voters, and only modestly positive numbers even among his Republican base. Orman, in contrast, has a +18 net favorable rating, with Democrats and independents giving him even stronger ratings, and Republicans about evenly split.