You Think RI Has Problems: Check Out Kansas

Topeka Capitol

Kansas State Capitol (unknown author – via Wikimedia Commons)

While the Rhode Island GOP sues to keep Bob Healey off the Moderate Party line, the Kansas GOP is attempting to prevent the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Chad Taylor from withdrawing. The background is that the Republican incumbent Pat Robers is vulnerable to the independent candidate Greg Orman, but Taylor could draw off enough votes to let the Republican squeak through if he remains on the ballot. So the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (a Republican) decided to attempt to block Taylor’s withdrawal.

The problem with the interference is that it could damage the re-election prospects of Kobach, who is still neck and neck with his Democratic opponent but without the lead; meanwhile incumbent Republican and extremely right-wing governor Sam Brownback is down around 7 points to his Democratic opponent.

So, yeah, it appears procedural maneuvering for partisan advantage isn’t uniquely limited to Rhode Island.

Something else caught my eye though in the SurveyUSA results published for KSN-TV of Witchita, in light of my recent dust-up with Ted Nesi over polling. Here’s how SurveyUSA describes the changes in Kobach’s situation against his opponent Jean Schodorf (margin of sampling error is +/-4.2%):

Kobach’s insertion into the Senate contest did nothing, at first blush, to help his own campaign for re-election. 2 weeks ago, KSN-TV and SurveyUSA had Kobach tied with Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf. Today, the contest is still within the theoretical margin of sampling error, but Schodorf now has a nominal 3-point advantage, 46% to 43%. Men don’t take kindly to Kobach’s interference. 2 weeks ago, Kobach had led by 10 among male likely voters, now by 3. And residents of greater Kansas City KS don’t take kindly to Kobach either. In that part of the state, Kobach had been tied with Schodorf, but today the Democrat Schodorf leads by 7. The contest is a jump ball that could go either way. It’s too early to tell whether Kobach will be written about, years from now, as a hero, who saved the US Senate for Republicans and got himself re-elected in the process, or as a goat, who sunk himself and the Republican Party with him.

The key phrases there are: “theoretical margin of sampling error” and “nominal”. It’s easy to insinuate that Kobach’s going to lose because of the interference, but SurveyUSA seems pretty sober in its summation of it. It did nothing to help him, there’s only a nominal advantage for his opponent, he’s lost support among likely male voters and those living around Kansas City, and it’s too early to tell what will happen.

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