There may be no state with deeper historical ties to the GOP than Kansas, which has not elected a Democratic senator since 1932. Yet, in recent years, the Sunflower State-- partly out of disgust with the increasingly right-wing state GOP--has been trending slightly Democratic, electing and re-electing a Democratic governor and sending a new Democratic congresswoman to Washington in 2006. And on Tuesday, the state will likely break for Barack Obama, whose mother is from there. (Kansas Republicans will hold their caucuses on Saturday.)
Delegates: 41 (32 pledged delegates; 9 superdelegates). 21 delegates will be allocated proportionally based on the results of the vote in each of the state's four congressional districts. A further 11 delegates will be awarded proportionally based on the statewide vote.
Format: Only Democrats may participate, but would-be caucusgoers can re-register as Democrats at their caucus on Tuesday.
Fundraising: Obama has narrowly outraised Hillary Clinton in the state, $131,000 to $125,000. (Ron Paul, at $134,000, has outraised both of them.) Both candidates are advertising in the Kansas City media market, which reaches much of eastern Kansas.
Demographics: Kansas is only 6 percent black and 8 percent Latino, so minority votes are unlikely to tip the balance one way or the other. The more relevant divide in the state is geographic. Many of the state's Democrats are concentrated in liberal Lawrence and Kansas City, while suburban areas (especially fast-growing Johnson County, south of Kansas City) tend to favor moderate Republicans, and the more rural central and western parts of the state lean conservative. The second congressional district, which encompasses Topeka, part of Lawrence, and most of eastern Kansas outside the Kansas City metropolitan area, provided perhaps the biggest electoral surprise in the 2006 election by sending unheralded Democratic challenger Nancy Boyda to Congress. It is a key swing district that could prove decisive.
Endorsements: Obama won the biggest prize, in popular Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who endorsed him last week after delivering the Democratic response to the State of the Union address. She appeared with him at a rally in El Dorado, his grandfather's hometown, and just across the Missouri border in Kansas City. The state's SEIU backs Obama. Neither of the state's two congressional Democrats, Dennis Moore and Nancy Boyda, have endorsed. (Nor, to my knowledge, has coach Bill Self or forward Darrell Arthur of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team--either man's endorsement could sway thousands of votes in this hoops-mad state.)
Polls: No polls have been conducted in the state since May, when Clinton held a narrow 27-22 lead (at a time when her national lead exceeded twenty points).
Analysis: The consensus favors Obama: His message of bipartisanship resonates in a state where Democrats know that they must win crossover votes in order to prevail. Sebelius's endorsement also makes a real difference. The caucus format rewards organization, and his is stronger, with eighteen paid staffers to Clinton's three (although she's recently opened offices in Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita). Older Democrats and longtime party stalwarts remain favorably disposed toward Clinton, but if turnout is as high as it's been in other states, they'll likely be outnumbered. Still, with delegate allocation done proportionally, she could pick up valuable delegates.
Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.
By Josh Patashnik