CELEBRATE LONG AWAITED KANSAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY COMEBACK 2016???
Right now, we're grateful for a bit of insight about the upcoming election from a well-respected local expert.
The thesis . . .
Dr. Ernest Evans Predicts . . . "Significant gains by the Kansas Democrats in the 2016 legislative elections in Kansas. These additional Democratic members, together with the expected increase in the number of moderate Republicans elected to the legislature in 2016, mean that the state legislature that assembles in early 2017 will be quite different from the one that was in office in 2014-2016."
Dr. Ernest Evans: The 2016 Legislative Elections in Kansas
The 2014 elections were good for the Republican Party, both in Kansas and around the country. In the US Senate the GOP gained nine seats, and in the House they gained fifteen seats. In Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Senator Pat Roberts were both re-elected, all four of the GOP Congressional Representatives were re-elected, and in the Kansas House the GOP expanded its membership to 98 from 93--with the Democrats declining from 32 to 27.
However, in the immortal words of former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson: "A week is a long time in politics, and a year is an eternity." Well, it is now time for the 2016 elections, two "eternities" from 2014, and the outlook for the GOP in the legislative races in Kansas is quite problematic.
Einstein put it best when he said: "Prognostication is difficult, especially about the future"--so one always has to be cautious in making predictions. However, here goes anyway: It looks likely that in the 2016 state legislative elections in Kansas that the Democrats will make major gains in both the House and the Senate.
I base this prediction on several factors: First, Governor Brownback is considerably more unpopular today than he was back in 2014. Then his approval rating was 33%--now it is 15%. When a governor is that unpopular with a state's voters, the voters tend to take it out of the members of the governor's party.
Second, the Kansas GOP had a series of divisive, bitter primary fights in the August 2, 2016 primary elections. Fourteen incumbent GOP Senators and Representatives were defeated, as was incumbent US Congressman Tim Huelskamp. (This Huelskamp defeat is a particularly telling indication of the dissatisfaction within the state GOP: Nationally, only five incumbent Congressional Representatives were defeated in primaries in 2016, these days primary defeats for incumbent Congressional Representative are quite rare.) Historically, when state and national parties have bitter divisive primaries it tends to hurt their chances in the general election because a lot of the supporters of the defeated candidate will not support the victorious candidate.
Third, 2016 appears to be a much better year for the Democrats overall than 2014 was. The generic ballot, the poll about which party the public wants in power, favored the GOP by 2.6% in 2014--right now it favors the Democrats by 4.4%. The generic ballot is a good predictor not only for races in the US Congress but also for state legislatures--I noted above the GOP gains in the US House and Senate in 2014--in that election the GOP also captured control of eleven state legislative houses.
Now, my "crystal ball" may turn out to be quite erroneous, but as of today I predict significant gains by the Kansas Democrats in the 2016 legislative elections in Kansas. These additional Democratic members, together with the expected increase in the number of moderate Republicans elected to the legislature in 2016, mean that the state legislature that assembles in early 2017 will be quite different from the one that was in office in 2014-2016.