Greg Orman, Kingmaker?

You may have heard that Democrat Chad Taylor has withdrawn from the Kansas Senate race, leaving independent Greg Orman to challenge 3rd term incumbent Pat Roberts.   While Kansas hasn't sent a non-Republican to the Senate since 1930, events seem to be coming together for a very competitive race.

Orman has thus far not definitively indicated which party he would caucus with, although he has said that if one party is clearly in the majority he will seek to caucus with that party.   That in mind, if Orman wins and the Senate otherwise ends up 50-49 Republican, his would be the deciding vote on party control.  

We've updated the Senate simulator to reflect this dynamic.   The way it works is as follows:

For any simulation where Orman wins AND

  • Democrats end up with 50 or more seats (excluding Kansas), Kansas will be Democratic
  • Democrats end up with 48 or fewer seats (excluding Kansas), Kansas will be Republican

This leaves the scenario where Democrats have 49 seats, Republicans 50.   In this case, if Orman caucuses with the Democrats, they have 50 seats.  With Vice President Joe Biden acting as tie-breaker, Democrats would control.   If he caucuses with Republicans, that party has 51 seats and control.     Since there's no way to know which way Orman will go - it might ultimately come down to which party gives him the most power - we've currently assigned a 50/50 probability when this scenario occurs, essentially making a random Democrat/Republican choice.  

Obviously, the above doesn't come into play in scenarios where Republican Roberts wins.