• Schuyler Beltrami

2022 Midterms Preview – Kansas


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The Millennial Agora continues our complete preview of the upcoming midterm elections for Congress with the state of Kansas. A state of just under three million people, Kansas is a largely rural state in the Midwest. With its two largest cities, Topeka (the state capital) and Wichita being relatively small, the largest metro area in the state is the Kansas side of Kansas City. Outside of this area, most of the state is rural and has a strongly agriculturally based economy. Politically, the state is one of the most reliably Republican states in the country, similar to many other rural states of the Midwest. In 2020, former President Donald Trump won the state by around 15% and the last Democrat to win the state in a Presidential Election was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. However, the state did make national headlines over the summer when the traditionally conservative state chose to protect abortion rights in the states through a referendum in one of the strongest shows of support for abortion rights in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v Wade. In 2022, there will be elections in Kansas for the House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor. Kansas has four seats in the House of Representatives and this number remained unchanged over the past decade. Currently, the state’s delegation in the House is split 3-1 in favor of Republicans.


House of Representatives

Kansas receives four seats in the House of Representatives and all seats will be up for election in November. The overall CVPI for the entire state is R+10, making Kansas’s House races (taken as a whole) to be strongly Republican. (The CPVI, or Cook Partisan Voting Index, is the main metric to measure the strength of a political party for a particular House district or Senate seat. The measure was created and managed by the non-partisan Cook Political Report and uses historical data, as well as polling, to create the “partisan lean” of each district or state. A CPVI rating of R+15 would mean that on average, Republican candidates win elections in that district or state by an average of 15%, while a rating of D+15 would mean the same thing, but for the Democratic candidate. A district or state with a CPVI with double digits is considered to be non-competitive).


I. KS-01:

A. Current Representative: Tracey Mann (R)

B. Population Distribution: Overwhelmingly Rural, Some Suburban Areas

C. Demographics: 75% White, 16% Hispanic

D. Cook PVI: R+18 (Strong Republican)

E. Outlook: Kansas’ first district includes nearly all of the state’s western half and is by far the largest district in the state. The district includes the college town of Manhattan as well as the state’s borders with Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Incumbent Republican Tracey Mann has represented the district since 2020. He earned nearly three times more votes than Democratic candidates in this very red district’s closed primaries.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


II. KS-02:

A. Current Representative: Jake LaTurner (R)

B. Population Distribution: Majority Rural, Some Urban Areas

C. Demographics: 70% White, 13% Hispanic, 11% African American, 5% Native American

D. Cook PVI: R+11 (Strong Republican)

E. Outlook: The Kansas 2nd District includes most of the eastern half of the state as well as the state capital, Topeka. It also includes nearly half of downtown Kansas City and the northern suburbs of Kansas City. Incumbent Rep. LaTurner has represented the district since 2020 and was elected with 55% of the vote, however his district was made much more favorable for Republicans by splitting up the metro Kansas City vote between two different districts. In the district’s closed primaries, he received nearly twice as many votes as the Democratic candidates.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


III. KS-03:

A. Current Representative: Sharice Davids (D)

B. Population Distribution: Majority Urban and Suburban, Some Rural Areas

C. Demographics: 75% White, 10% Hispanic, 6% African American, 6% Asian

D. Cook PVI: R+1 (Toss-up)

E. Outlook: The Kansas 3rd District includes a large part of the metropolitan Kansas City area, including the very large suburb of Overland Park. The only Democratic in Kansas’ House delegation, Rep. Davids has represented the district since 2018 and won reelection in 2020 by 54% of the vote. The key for Rep. Davids and the Democrats in this district will be turnout, turnout, turnout. Her district in 2020 was a Biden +11 district, but her new district, redrawn after redistricting, is now only a Biden +4 district and that 7-point Republican swing could be huge in a year where Republicans are predicted to make gains. In order to keep her seat, Rep. Davids will be hoping that the massive turnout which came out for the statewide referendum on abortion rights will repeat in an area which had the highest margins in favor of protecting abortion rights in the state. She trailed the Republican candidates by around 22,000 votes in the district’s closed primaries, but she ran unopposed, and this district has become one on the top of the list for Republicans to flip. However, Rep. Davids may have time on her side in this election. At the end of June she trailed in the aggregate polling data by more than 4%, now she is up by more than 1%, a 5% swing since the middle of the summer, which tracks with the national momentum felt by Democrats. A high turnout combined with a continuation of the momentum felt by Democrats since the beginning of August means that the state of Kansas should have at least one spot of blue at the end of Election Night. A Democratic victory in this district will also be a good barometer to see how the rest of the night is going for both parties, as Democrats are trying desperately to hold on to urban and suburban voters in red states, while Republicans believe they can make large gains in districts just like this one.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


IV. KS-04:

A. Current Representative: Ron Estes (R)

B. Population Distribution: Overwhelmingly Rural, Some Urban Areas

C. Demographics: 70% White, 14% Hispanic, 9% African American, 5% Native American

D. Cook PVI: R+14 (Strong Republican)

E. Outlook: The Kansas 4th District includes the southern central part of the state along the border with Oklahoma and includes all of the state’s largest city, Wichita. Incumbent Rep. Estes has represented the district since 2016 and won reelection in 2020 with 64% of the vote. He received around three times more votes than Democratic candidates in the district’s closed primaries.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


Senate

Kansas, like all states, has two seats in the Senate, one of which will be up for election this year. Incumbent Republican Senator Jerry Moran is seeking his third term in the Senate after having been first elected in 2010. In 2016, he won reelection by a margin of 30% and won every county in the state except for two in the metropolitans Kansas City area. He received around two times as many votes as all Democratic candidates, including the eventual nominee Mark Holland, a pastor and former mayor of Kansas City. Although the polling has narrowed somewhat in this race (at the beginning of the year, Sen. Moran was leading by 17%, that number is now down to 12% with around 23% of the state’s voters still undecided), many of those undecided voters should break for the Republican party and there has been almost no aggregate data to support that this race will be anything less than a double-digit victory for a Republican incumbent Senator in a red state.

Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


Governor

The third and final election in Kansas will be for the Governor. Incumbent Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is seeking her second term as the highest politician in the state and it is safe to say that she might be the most vulnerable Democrat in the entire country, given that she is the governor in a red state in a year where Republicans should make gains across the board. In 2018, she won election with only 48% and by a margin of 5%. She received around two times fewer votes than Republican candidates in the state, but somehow, despite this overwhelming lead from the primaries, the polls have improved significantly for Gov. Kelly over her Republican challenger, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt. In April, two polls conducted in the state, showed Mr. Schmidt with a 4% lead. In two polls conducted in September, Gov. Kelly now holds a 2% lead, and she has nearly a 3% in the aggregate polling data. According to advanced statistics from FiveThirtyEight, who simulated the race over one thousand times, Gov. Kelly wins in 66% of all elections. Not only is the statistics on her side, but the overwhelming show of support for abortion rights in the state, has Democrats hopeful that the most vulnerable Democrat in the country can hold on. Although this race will, like many other close races, come down to turnout and national trends, the Republican party of Kansas is pointing to something else which may greatly influence the election: third-party vote. Normally, third-party voting is very marginal and has no effect, however Independent candidate and former Republican Dennis Pyle has been polling at around 3-4% in the state and since many of these votes will come from Republican voters, the pull of independent votes may give just enough for Gov. Kelly to hold on. We are predicting reelection for Gov. Kelly, although a Republican flip in the Kansas Governor’s election would be one of the least surprising events of all of Election Night if it is to happen.

Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


Analysis

The Millennial Agora is predicting that the House races in Kansas will finish 3-1 in favor of Republicans, with no gains for either party. The Senate race will end in a Republican victory, while the election for Governor will end in a Democratic victory.


Thank you for reading our preview of the midterm elections in Kansas. Check back tomorrow as we preview Kentucky, a state in the South, and a reliably Republican state.



The state of the House after our predictions. Made at 270towin.com

The state of the Senate after our predictions. Made at 270towin.com (States in light grey have no Senate seats up for election this year)

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