In the Kansas Senate race, Democrats have done basically everything they can to give Independent Greg Orman the best possible chance based on the hope he might caucus with them. They got their own candidate Chad Taylor to drop out, and actively fought to keep any other Democratic candidate from appearing on the ballot. That created a head-to-head race against incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R), improving Orman’s odds, and making it easier to let regular Democrats know he is the one the party wants them to vote for.
The situation in South Dakota is a bit trickier. That is a three way race with Republican Mike Round leading, Independent Larry Pressler is second and Democrat Rick Weiland is third. With a competitive Democrat still on the ballot the national party can’t directly throw support behind Pressler, but their actions have been very strategic. The DSCC is planning to spend big to run attack ads against Round which will help both Pressler and Weiland, since Democrats would consider either one winning a victory.
The Democratic party needs to bank on these Independents in red states this year because all three incumbent Democratic senators in conservative-leaning states are trailing in the polls.
Of course, the fact this strategy might work is also a sign the Republican brand is in pretty bad shape as well. Independents doing well in deeply red states implies these voters don’t actually like the Republican party, they just dislike them less than the Democratic party.
Image by DonkeyHotey under Creative Commons license