Archive for Sunday, February 17, 2008

A blue Kansas in ‘08?

Party chairmen, political scientists consider the odds

February 17, 2008


Kansas Democratic caucus results

See comprehensive statewide and local results for the 2008 Democratic caucuses.

Republicans make a choice

Members of the GOP in Kansas voted in caucuses today. Here are the results of voting, provided by the Kansas Republican Party.

A Democratic presidential candidate hasn't won Kansas since 1964 when voters picked Lyndon Johnson.

After the recent caucus turnouts, could the red state be leaning toward voting blue? Depends on whom you ask.

Kansas Democrats turned out 37,000 voters during caucuses Feb. 5, and U.S. Sen Barack Obama won the state. Four days later, a majority of 19,000 Republicans threw support away from GOP front-runner Sen. John McCain.

"This political season has played out like the college football season," said GOP strategist Jon McHenry, a partner with Ayres, McHenry and Associates in Alexandria, Va.

There it was. In one of the most wide-open presidential races in recent memory, a pundit compared the political climate to the unpredictable fall that included Kansas University - a program for decades mired in mediocrity - that went 12-1 and won an Orange Bowl championship.

Gauging from the caucuses

Although Democrats turned out in force, the state's Republican Party chairman, Kris Kobach, doesn't fear an upset. He believes the state's voting record speaks for itself.

"It would take nothing short of an electoral earthquake to put Kansas in the blue column," he said.

But Larry Gates, the Kansas Democratic Party chairman, said his party is benefiting from a strategy to compete in all 50 states.

"We've been working on this for two years, and secondly, I think the mood of the country is that people think we're not going in the right direction," he said.

Gates pointed out that Democrats turned out despite wintry weather while Republicans barely showed up on a sunny day.

But Kobach said the caucuses were different. The Democratic presidential race between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton was much closer and had received more national media attention. Kansas GOP leaders were pleased with their turnout in a race with McCain as the clear front-runner. He added that Democratic organizers allowed voters to change their party affiliation at the door unlike the GOP caucuses.

"You're comparing apples and oranges," he said.

Political science experts said a turnout disparity in the caucuses is probably not a good indicator of the general election.

"The type of voter that gets excited and goes to a caucus is probably a little more liberal on the Democratic side and a little more conservative on the Republican side," said Michael S. Lynch, a Kansas University assistant professor of political science.

If anything, Lynch said, McCain's loss to Mike Huckabee was a signal that he has not yet won broad-based conservative support based on some of his moderate positions. If that bloc of voters remains unhappy in Kansas, they could decide to stay home in the general election.

But he and others believe that scenario is unlikely.

"I think they're probably going to hold their noses and go vote anyhow," said Don Haider-Markel, a KU associate professor of political science.

Obama's support

One wild card in the race could be whether Obama defeats Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Obama has family ties to Kansas, the endorsement of two-term Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and about 73 percent of the votes in the party's caucuses.

"I think at least you have to say, 'You have to open your eyes to you never know,' because he might decide to campaign here because of his Kansas connection," said Bob Beatty, a Washburn University associate political science professor.

Joe Aistrup, head of Kansas State University's political science department, said Obama probably couldn't win Kansas, but he could do much better than 2004 nominee Sen. John Kerry. If he pulls in more votes, it could help Democratic candidates farther down the ticket, such as U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, who will face a Republican challenger in November.

But McHenry said because of limited resources, it's unlikely that Kansas and its six electoral votes would draw too much attention from Democratic candidates. Obama may campaign a little as a thank you to Sebelius, but he would spend most of his time elsewhere, such as Ohio or Florida, he said.

Republican struggles

Even with the Republican party's strong base in Kansas, McHenry acknowledged the political landscape is different compared with the 2004 election when George W. Bush won more than 60 percent of the vote here.

Challenges for Republicans include the negative view of the Iraq war, even if the recent surge strategy touted by McCain has shown some success. Also, the backlash against the government response to Hurricane Katrina and the 2006 congressional elections generally seem to hurt the GOP, he said.

But he thinks Republicans will support the party's candidate, likely McCain, as the general election campaign ramps up.

Gates, Democratic Party chairman, said if Kansas Democrats can persuade independents and moderates to vote with them, they might have a chance. He added that more moderate voters may think that electing McCain as president would be like a third term for Bush.

As of Feb. 1, Kansas had about 743,000 registered Republicans, compared with about 434,000 Democrats and 449,000 unaffiliated voters.

"I think this will be a very competitive race. Whether it's winnable on the Democratic side, we'll have a much better feel for that in the late summer or early fall," Gates said.


average 10 years, 1 month ago

Unlikely as heck. The only state "redder" than Kansas is Utah.

I will suggest, though, that Nancy Boyda is much more likely to win with Obama on the top of the ticket than Hillary Clinton. Half of Lawrence, all of Manhattan, Pittsburg... anecdotally even Forts Riley and Leavenworth are more likely to be motivated by Obama.

ronwell_dobbs 10 years, 1 month ago

I have been rattling on like a banging gong over the last 3.2 years telling everyone I know that what our political system needs is very simple: better candidates. I see this as extremely positive that we might have the likes of a John McCain facing off against Barak Obama. The fact that in this election cycle we care about real leadership qualities, or at least the ability to form and render a complete and properly constructed sentence says volumes about the "us" in the electorate. I'm excited to say the least.

I disagree about the McCain as a 3rd Bush term. I don't think there's much love for Bush in McCain's heart. I can't say I necessarily like McCain's saber-rattling, nor do I agree with him on his personal stance with regard to certain social issues, but I could listen to him speak on the radio and feel a sense of pride that we had a principled leader who could be trusted with the power of the Presidency.

In some ways a McCain-Obama showdown would be like the Nixon-Kennedy race of 1960, albeit with a less shadowy GOP figure (his voice can be kind of grumbly like Nixon though). Obama has obtained the larger-than-life personna of someone who could make us feel better about ourselves and the possibilities that lay ahead for us. He also could be instrumental in healing the rift between the left and right camps of the reasonably-minded political Center that makes up a good 60-65% of the voting population. This could be either candidate's most lasting contribution in 2008.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

Kansas needs new faces to replace Roberts and Browback as well as Tihart. These folks have been their too long so lets start replacing them in November 2007. It's the legislators who are as big a problem as any Bush. Bush and Cheney are bad leaders yet republicans stood by them no matter what. So if legislators cannot think for themselves they need to be fired.

Yes I know republicans hate big government yet they love those annual $4,000 pay increases whether they are a good employee or not. How about those expense accounts and that special interest treatment. They also love that taxpayers will be paying their medical care for the rest of their lives...hmmm all americans deserve that but they don't think so.

Replace the repub neocon party soon.

ronwell_dobbs 10 years, 1 month ago

I never thought I'd see the day when Marion quoted Pravda as a source for good ideas!

On the other hand, they have been tending to their oligarchy nicely these days.

ronwell_dobbs 10 years, 1 month ago


I agree with you about climbing outside the U.S. media orbit. While not perfect (and still obviously still very Anglo-Western) is the BBC, which if nothing else, at least lets me know what's happening on the African subcontinent. I'll check out Pravda sometime on your recommendation.

dagopman 10 years, 1 month ago

Either Jenkins or Ryun is a superior alternative to Boyda!

jayneway 10 years, 1 month ago

Why can't the Dems be red for a while? Seems only fair to switch colors on occasion... especially since red teams seem to have a slight advantage over blue....

I'm fairly young so someone else will have to comment, but has the Red State/Blue State moniker been as prevalent in the past, or is that fairly recent? Seems like it was more heavily used post 2000? I don't remember those buzz words being as popular in 96 and 92. Either way, time to switch!!

BigPrune 10 years, 1 month ago

Obama is too liberal to win Kansas. Hopefully, the rest of the country will get past his black skin and look at his liberal voting record. I'm sure he's not counting on that to happen.

texburgh 10 years, 1 month ago

"Obama is too liberal to win Kansas."

Made me think. I looked up liberal in my dictionary. Here's what it says:

liberal (adj) 1. Open to new behavior or opinions; 2. Favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms; 3. (in a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform.

No wonder I'm proud be declare myself a liberal! Go Obama!

Bubarubu 10 years, 1 month ago

Marion--Pravda Online is not related to the newspaper Pravda. Pravda Online is a sensationalistic tabloid. If you want an actual Russian newspaper try Novaya Gazeta, the paper that made a name for itself outing the Putin government's brutality in the two Chechen wars. Novaya Gazeta was the home of Anna Politkivskaya until she was assassinated. Pravda Online is a tabloid, Pravda is a mouthpiece for Putin and his corrupt corporate cronies. Novaya Gaezta remains independent despite mortal threats and is a much better source.

pisafromthewest 10 years, 1 month ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says:

"Unlikely, but possible due to right wings total dislike of McCain."

Which pales in comparison to their dislike of pretty much any Democratic candidate.

Why do people even try to make a prediction based on the caucus turnout? Besides the fact that, as mentioned, the Democratic contest is a horse race and the only serious challenge to McCain on the Republican side had dropped out prior to the caucus, let's put things in perspective. The margin of victory for Bush in 2004 was 8 times the entire Democratic caucus turnout. A total of less than 60,000 people participated in both caucuses; over 1,150,000 voted in the last presidential election. Like the man said, apples and oranges.

pisafromthewest 10 years, 1 month ago

texburgh (Anonymous) says:

liberal (adj) ... 3. (in a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform.

No wonder I'm proud be declare myself a liberal!

So, as a liberal, I assume you're against a taxation system which penalizes the rich to redistribute wealth.

And you obviously must be against any form of government sponsored or funded universal healthcare.

You must not be one of those complaining that the government should do something about the price of gas.

And evidently you're in favor of allowing market forces, not the government, dictate such decisions as whether to build coal plants, whether to take steps to address global warming, or whether to allow smoking in restaurants.

Why, I want to be a liberal too!

gccs14r 10 years, 1 month ago

Obama is a moderate Republican, albeit one from 40 years ago. The political landscape has shifted so much that the center-Right is now seen as the Radical Left.

I know someone who voted for Reagan, Bush, Perot twice and W twice who plans to vote for Obama over McCain if those are his choices. I think he'd vote for Mao Zedong over Hillary Clinton, though.

pisafromthewest 10 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says:

"I think he'd vote for Mao Zedong over Hillary Clinton, though."

Mao would be a better choice. He'd do less damage and be a better leader, what with being dead and all.

notajayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Now I'm confused - if we voted for Mao, would that make us a blue state or a red state?

dagopman 10 years, 1 month ago

Here is an interesting article written by Dick Morris, Bill Clinton's advisor for many, many years. This article sure refutes the legend of Hillary Clinton as this astute and experienced leader.,3566,330830,00.html

EXks 10 years, 1 month ago

Kansas vote blue??? LOL!!

If Jesus were on the blue team and Satan were on the red team, guess who Kansas would vote for???

sourpuss 10 years, 1 month ago

In Canada, the Liberals are red, the Conservatives are blue, and the NDP is a bright orange, like a traffic cone.

Bill Lee 10 years, 1 month ago

Frank Rich summarizes very well "as the Repubs" covered their hairy backsides..they missed the fact that voters are sick and tired of that Exclusive Country Club look.

63BC 10 years, 1 month ago

This is an attempt to answer Jayneway's question:

Search phrases like red/blue divide or red/blue states and they start showing up around the 2000 election which [like the two previous congressional elections] was startling close.

Better question, though, why Rs Red and Ds blue? Alliteration?

In the UK and in most EU Countries the party of the Left is Red and the party of the Right is blue---but likely this owes to the much stronger Socialist traditions of the continent.

One answer I've heard: in all military planning, friendly forces are always blue and the enemy is in red.

The press made the maps, so the Republicans [the enemy of the media] are red.

But I can't back that up with any facts. Happy to hear any explanation more grounded in reality...

lounger 10 years, 1 month ago

Kobach Is kind of an A*s so...maybe yes Kansas will go Blue!! Were not all close minded red people here you know....

notajayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

jayneway (Anonymous) says:

"Why can't the Dems be red for a while? Seems only fair to switch colors on occasion: especially since red teams seem to have a slight advantage over blue:."

It's not universal:

Godfather94 10 years, 1 month ago

Marion.....................misterlee.......................dagopman...........For decades I always felt that this country would be better off with a democrat as President. To this day I still do. For months now I always felt we needed someone with experience as a politician. Hillery Clinton fits this resume' over all other candidates running for president. I really haven't been following this election that close. Issues that have always concerned me the most were the security of this country and jobs for every american citizen. As you know, the security is still there, but the economy is not. I would like to thank you three for the websites that you all provided for me in this article. I just got educated on Clinton, McCain, and Obama, What I found out about Clinton, makes me totally re-evaluate my thinking. She has done nothing as a Senator. I do believe I will pay more attention to Barrack Obama. One issue that Obama has, does concern me. Will ending the war in Iraq affect our national security? After giving this some good thinking, I have come up with this. Our military can protect our borders, Our security has improved alot since 9/11. These middle east countries have been fighting for century after century. It's time we leave and let them do there thing. Our help is not really helping. I do keep up with the world news. Am I wrong in thinking that the war is partially responsible for our recession? Am I thinking wrong about wanting Barrack Obama for president now? I would like to thank all participants on this blog. Thank you for your input.

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