Kansas race complicating GOP chances of Senate takeover: Sabato

The declining chances that Senator Pat Roberts will keep his seat in the GOP column has only slightly affected the Republican's overall chances to take the Senate. That, according to respected prognosticator Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia:

The race for the Senate is perceptively moving in the Republicans’ direction, but not so dramatically that we’re ready to call the race definitively for them.

While we’ve long said the 2014 map and midterm dynamics make a GOP takeover of the Senate a probable outcome, there are just too many close races left and more than a month to go, when big gaffes, unexpected legal actions, and national events can potentially flip a Senate seat or two.

But right now, Democrats are behind the eight-ball (as well as the Crystal Ball). So many undecided contests are winnable for the GOP that the party would have to have a string of bad luck — combined with a truly exceptional Democratic get-out-the-vote program — to snatch defeat from the wide-open jaws of victory. Or Republicans would have to truly shoot themselves in the foot in at least one race, which has become a clear possibility over the last few weeks in Kansas.

The Republicans are seeing some encouraging public polling in a couple of states President Obama won in 2012, suggesting their increasing potential for gains beyond the comfortable red-tinted territory where they are already positioned to make considerable inroads in November.

Despite the uncertainty about the Sunflower State contest, the potential outcomes still mostly favor Republicans. About the best Democrats can hope for is a 50-50 split with Vice President Biden breaking the tie, a point we made several weeks ago when we upgraded our Senate outlook to a Republican gain of five to eight seats (the current Senate is 55-45 Democratic). A small one-to-three seat GOP Senate majority (51-49, 52-48, or 53-47) appears to be the likeliest outcome as of this writing and as the final month of the 2014 midterm campaign begins.

New Hampshire, Iowa, and Colorado - all thought to be relatively safe Democratic holds just a few months ago - are barnburners now. Republicans are likely to take one and perhaps two of those seats, thus offsetting the potential loss of Roberts in Kansas.

Early voting in Iowa shows Republicans doing better than expected. Things are also looking up for the GOP in Arkansas and Alaska, where Democratic incumbents are starting to fall further behind. But there's still a month to go and. as Sabato points out, it wouldn't take much to flip a couple of seats to the Dems.

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