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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) speaks at a Family Research Council
Kansas' Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is in real trouble in this dark red state.
How do you go from a landslide victory to fighting for your political life in a state that heavily favors your party? Ask Kansas's Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Brownback easily won his seat in 2010, and used his victory as a mandate to turn his state into a petri dish for right-wing economics. Brownback cut taxes without any real idea on how to make up for the lost revenue, and now Kansans are feeling the effects of his brutal budget cuts.

Several recent polls have shown Brownback struggling against state House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, and PPP gives the governor more bad news: They find Davis up 39-37, with Libertarian Keen Umbehr at 9. This is better for Brownback than some recent SurveyUSA surveys have shown, but not at all good. Umbehr is probably going to have a hard time staying at 9 percent, and if he loses support, Davis should benefit, because in just a two person race, Davis leads 44-39. Brownback is horrifically unpopular, sporting a 34-55 job approval rating. Davis isn't too well known, but he's above water with a 32-26 favorable rating.

There has always been a real possibility that Kansas's deep red hue could save Brownback. The governor and his allies at the RGA are doing everything they can to link Davis to President Obama. If they're successful, this could save Brownback because Obama sports an even worse 33-59 approval rating in the state. Still, it's clear that Brownback is in for a very tough campaign and Daily Kos Elections is changing our race rating from Lean Republican to Tossup.

Head below the fold for a look at the even weirder U.S. Senate race in Kansas.

Fellow Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is in better shape, but still not doing well. Roberts got some very bad headlines earlier this year when we found out he barely spent any time in Kansas and had no real residence in the state (unless you count a friend's La-Z-Boy). Roberts beat his tea partying primary challenger Milton Wolf by a pathetic 48-41 spread and Roberts probably would have lost if it weren't for Wolf's considerable flaws.

Roberts is favored for re-election, but is not out of the woods. PPP finds him leading Democrat Chad Taylor 32-25, with independent Greg Orman taking a massive 23 percent. Orman isn't your typical random independent. He's raised far more money than Taylor and has been able to run ads. Orman is actually better liked than Taylor, sporting a 24-12 favorable to the Democrat's 15-14. Roberts for his part posts a poor 27-44 job approval.

This strange three-way race may be what saves Roberts in the end. If Taylor were Roberts' only foe, the senator would lead by a small 43-39 margin. And if it were just an Orman-Roberts match-up, Orman would lead Roberts by a stunning 43-33. You have to wonder if prominent Democrats seeing these numbers and looking at Taylor's poor fundraising may try to encourage him to drop out and give Orman a clear shot. Of course it's unclear who Orman would caucus with if he made it to Washington. Orman is a former Democrat but his views don't seem to fit in neatly with either party. In any case, he'd probably be a clear improvement over the very conservative Roberts.

Kansas has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1932 and Roberts probably still has a leg up no matter what happens. However, with things so unpredictable here, we can't rule out the possibility that Roberts may lose after all. Therefore, we are moving our rating from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.    

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 10:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kansas & Missouri Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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