The last time a Democrat won a U.S. Senate race in Kansas, Herbert Hoover was in the White House.

The last time a Democrat won a U.S. Senate race in Kansas, Herbert Hoover was in the White House.


And yet, in the November midterm elections, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts could do the next-to-impossible: lose.


Roberts, who has represented Kansas in the Senate since 1997 (and in Congress since 1981), finds himself in what polling suggests is a pure toss-up against wealthy businessman and independent candidate Greg Orman. (Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the race this month, and his name was removed from the ballot after some legal wrangling.)


The closeness of the contest — due to the state GOP’s split between moderates and conservatives, as well as Roberts’ political ineptitude — has sent Republican strategists who hope to retake the Senate into a panic. Campaign managers have been replaced; consultants and surrogates have been dispatched.


But Roberts doesn’t have much time left. And it’s hard to imagine how a bunch of out-of-state advisers will fix his main problem: People in Kansas feel like he’s not one of them anymore. "Looking back over my life, I’m wondering, ‘What major things has he done for Kansas?’ I’m coming up empty," a Kansas Republican named Shirley Deege told The Washington Post. It doesn’t help that Roberts no longer has his own home in Kansas — he stays with two donors when he’s there.


What Roberts does have going for him is that this is Kansas. President Barack Obama won just 38 percent in the state in 2012. Being a Republican — Orman won’t say which party he would caucus with if he won — might be enough.


Pat Roberts, for making a mess of a sure thing, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.


Chris Cillizza covers the White House for The Washington Post and writes The Fix, its politics blog.