Kansas Senate: It's a bit early to start panicking over Greg Orman

The media has a fevah, and the only cure is increasingly bigger doses of Greg Orman in Kansas. The usual outlets can barely contain their glee over the possibility that a seat held by the GOP for nearly a century might be picked off in the midterms.

The Kansas Senate seat that Republicans have controlled for the past 80 years looks like it could be in trouble, a new poll finds.

Independent candidate Greg Orman now has a 10-point lead in his campaign to unseat three-term incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, according to a NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday. The survey of 636 likely Kansas voters has Orman with 48 percent of the vote to Roberts’ 38 percent of the vote, outside of the poll’s 3.9 percentage point margin of error.

That represents a five- to 10-point gain for the independent candidate, with polling over the last month judging the race anywhere from a dead heat to a five-point advantage for Orman

Both the media and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) have demonstrated that they’re not all that interested in who replaces Pat Roberts or what principles or positions they might bring to the office, but only in collecting a scalp. Once Chad Taylor was no longer of use to the Democrats he was jettisoned like a spent road flare and suddenly Greg Orman was the new darling of the day. It didn’t seem to matter to his new backers that he didn’t even know who he would caucus with (having bravely stated that he’ll go with whoever had the majority), but only that Roberts wasn’t the winner.

The reason that the GOP shouldn’t be writing this race off is that history doesn’t indicate a clear, easy path to victory for Orman. Yes, the election isn’t far off, but in politics a month may as well be a lifetime. Things can change with the dawning of a single news cycle, and how much do voters really know about Orman? Less than 100 days ago, he was nothing more than an interesting sidebar story, and everyone was focusing on the primary battles between the two main party candidates.

But now, Orman will need to begin answering questions which he has thus far avoided. Where does he stand on the Keystone pipeline? He refused to say in September. How about gun control? Would he back an “assault weapons” ban? Again, no answer from Orman. And until recently, nobody had spent all that much time doing any sort of deep dive into his background. Faced with the reality of casting their vote for – and possibly electing to the United States Senate – an unknown quantity who refuses to be honest with the voters about his positions and plans, the bloom could easily be off the rose for the independent in the next few weeks. For example, where is he on abortion? He might not much care for the visual of one of his campaign signs showing up on an abortion clinic, as noticed by Andrew Bair.
There are plenty of hurt feelings regarding Pat Roberts left over from the primary, and issues were raised which the Senator clearly needs to address. But if the alternate is Greg Orman, Kansas voters will have nearly a month to consider their options and determine if they really want to jump off this particular cliff. And if history is any guide, they may well begin coming home to the known quantity.