Republican Nightmare Forecast in Kansas Senate Poll

Greg Orman leads Sen. Pat Roberts 46 percent to 41 percent

Senator Pat Roberts, a Rebublican from Kansas, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct.10, 2013. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned that the congressional deadlock over the U.S. debt ceiling is 'beginning to stress the financial markets,' and failing to raise it by Oct. 17 could put Social Security and Medicare payments at risk.

Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new poll in the Kansas Senate race today found what many party leaders fear: Senator Pat Roberts could lose his seat to an independent challenger and, with it, the party's chance for taking over the chamber.

Greg Orman leads Roberts 46 percent to 41 percent, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll

Orman, who hasn't said whether he would caucus as a Republican or Democrat if elected, has the lead in what's shaping up to be one of the most surprising Senate contests this year. The race is playing out in one of the nation's most reliably Republican states.

Libertarian candidate Randall Batson is drawing almost 1 percent and about 11 percent are undecided. Asked for their second choice, voters were evenly split between Roberts and Orman.

In another blow to Republicans on Wednesday, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that Democrats aren't required to fill the vacancy caused by Chad Taylor's withdrawal from the race last month.

The telephone poll of 500 likely voters, taken Saturday through Tuesday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll also showed Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback trails his Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, 46 percent to 42 percent.

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