Elections

Orman opens up big lead over Roberts in Kansas

Independent Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman and his wife Sybil watch from the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game between Kansas State and Auburn in Manhattan, Kan., Sept. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Independent Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman and his wife Sybil watch from the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game between Kansas State and Auburn in Manhattan, Kan., Sept. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AP

Indepedent Greg Orman has opened up a big lead over incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, a new NBC-Marist poll said Sunday.

The survey also found Republican Joni Ernst slightly ahead of Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley in Iowa, while Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is ahead of Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina.

Orman has the potential to pull off one of the year’s biggest surprises. Roberts, a Republican, was presumed to have a safe seat in Kansas, which last elected a Democrat to the Senate in 1932.

Thirty-seven percent said they have a positive opinion of Roberts, while 47 percent saw him negatively. Roberts was hurt earlier this year by controversy about his residence.

Roberts is “in a great deal of trouble out there,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, told NBC. “He’s got high negatives, his intensity of support is low, he’s losing independents by more than two to one. His to-do list is rather large in the remaining time before Election Day.”

Orman, though, “remains relatively undefined,” NBC noted, and Kansas still leans Republican. But in the Sept. 27-Oct. 1 poll, Orman leads, 48 to 38 percent.

In North Carolina, Hagan is benefitting from a gender gap. She’s up 19 among women, while Tillis is up 13 among men. Hagan also polls 84 percent of the black vote. Overall, she leads Tillis, 44 to 40 percent.

In Iowa, Ernst is up by 2 in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

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