By Dave Andrusko
Two new polls show a dramatic turnabout in the race for the Kansas Senate seat held by NRLC-endorsed Sen. Pat Roberts (R).
As recently as Monday, an NBC/Marist poll showed “Independent” Greg Orman ahead by ten points. (Orman has run as a Democrat but refuses to say which party he would caucus with, should he win.)
But a Fox News poll released Wednesday showed Roberts ahead of Orman by 5 points, 44%-39%, among likely voters, while a CNN/ORC poll found the incumbent ahead 49% to 48% among likely voters. (Libertarian Randall Batson drew 3% in the latest survey.)
Three weeks ago, in a two-way matchup, Orman was up by six points, 48-42 percent, in the Fox News poll.
Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll along with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, told Fox News’ Dana Blanton, “We know that partisanship tends to assert itself as Election Day nears,” adding, “And that may be happening in Kansas.”
Fox gave more specifics in its news story. We learn, for example, that 82% of Roberts’ supporters say they are certain to vote for him versus 76% for Orman’s supporters.
Roberts is winning the gender gap battle. Women are almost exactly evenly divided—40% for Orman, 38% for Roberts—while Roberts is the overwhelming choice of men, 50% to 37%.
“Some 73 percent of Republicans back Roberts, while 71 percent of Democrats support Orman,” explained Blanton. “Independents go for Orman by 45-34 percent. Roberts maintains his overall vote advantage because there are so many more Republicans than Democrats in the Sunflower State.”
CNN showed the contest much closer—one point—49% to 48%.
In a race this close, obviously who comes out to vote is even more important than usual.
“Turnout is likely to be key — the higher the number of Republicans who vote, the better for Roberts, and Republicans have been at least 43% of the vote (and usually higher) in Kansas elections since 2000,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland told CNN’s Eric Bradner and Dana Bash. “Roberts must convince disaffected Republicans to like him again. An 80% favorable rating among Republican likely voters in the current poll indicates that he may have closed that part of the deal.”
CNN poll of 687 likely voters also found that 21% said they could still change their minds.