While results in the presidential race continue to be counted in several key states, major races in Kansas are largely crystal clear.
While results won’t be official until county and state officials canvass the results in the coming weeks, most major races have been decided, with a Republican onslaught up and down the ballot.
Here are five key points from Tuesday.
1. Marshall proves Kansas remains a red state
There was speculation that a projected close race between Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall and Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier would foretell Kansas beginning to turn from ruby red to purple.
That line of thinking appears to have been premature.
Marshall cruised to victory Tuesday night, notching a 14-point margin with all precincts reporting Wednesday morning.
That puts him ahead of what the man he is replacing, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, managed in 2014 against independent Greg Orman.
And it comes despite polling as recently as late October showing the race within the margin of error, as well as a significant fundraising advantage for Bollier.
"Unless you really screw up, the Republican-ness of the state is likely to be a powerful influencer," said Burdett Loomis, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Kansas.
Marshall won all but a handful of counties, with Bollier proving victorious in the traditional Democratic bastions of Johnson and Wyandotte counties, as well as Lawrence, Topeka and Manhattan.
Those polls that had Bollier within striking distance often also had a high number of undecided voters — who appeared to break for Marshall.
"In a Republican state, Republicans get very motivated," said Bob Beatty, chair of the political science department at Washburn University.
Marshall said the victory was buoyed by a message of hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Will (2020) be remembered as a year of hopelessness and confusion?" Marshall said in his victory speech. "Will it be remembered as the year that a virus struck and caused the sun to set on the great American Republic? That answer’s no."
2. No problems for congressional candidates
While none of the state’s congressional seats was expected to change hands, Democrats held an outside hope that Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla could win in the 2nd Congressional District race.
But when the dust settled, it was GOP State Treasurer Jake LaTurner with a comfortable 15-point victory over De La Isla following his ouster of incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Watkins in the primary.
De La Isla won her home of Shawnee County by only 4 points; Democrat Paul Davis won the county by 14 points in his 2018 loss to Watkins.
Beatty said Republicans, both in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House races, were effective at tying the races to national political figures and issues.
That is especially true, he said, in a year when President Donald Trump was on the ballot.
"Republicans are good at nationalizing races," he said. "Making it not about Barbara Bollier or Michelle De La Isla but Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, but I can go back to when it was Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton."
In the 1st Congressional District, formerly held by Marshall, former Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann actually improved upon his predecessor’s 2018 performance to win in a landslide over Democrat Kali Barnett.
And while U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids was the lone bright spot for Democrats, winning reelection in the 3rd Congressional District, it was by a slimmer margin than initially projected.
3. Trouble for Democrats down ballot
Democrats also went into Tuesday with high hopes of breaking GOP supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
The party needed to gain only one seat in the Kansas House or three seats in the Kansas Senate to break the Republican supermajorities.
But it appears that Democrats actually lost ground in the House, losing several south-central and southeastern races and only gaining two seats in suburban Kansas City, Kan.
In the Senate, Democrats’ wins in Johnson County were canceled out by disappointing performances elsewhere, most notably in Shawnee County, where GOP candidate Kristen O’Shea handily won Kansas Senate District 18 in a race that many expected to be tight.
And in the biggest surprise of the evening, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley trailed his GOP challenger Rick Kloos by roughly 800 votes as of Wednesday morning.
Kloos said his lead was proof that new blood was needed in the district.
"Anthony’s been in there for over 40 years," he said at his election night watch party. "People are ready for a new voice in our district. Our ground game has been a key thing. We have literally knocked on thousands of doors and have had a lot of one-on-one conversations."
A handful of Kansas Senate and House races remained too close to call as of Wednesday.
The failure to break the veto-proof majorities will hinder Democrat hopes of expanding the state’s Medicaid program, crafting favorable congressional maps and even brokering a deal over legislation governing the state’s pandemic response.
Gov. Laura Kelly, whose political action committee spent substantial sums of money on several down-ballot races, said in a statement Wednesday that she remains hopeful that compromise can be found.
"This election year has been unlike any other, and I do not doubt that we will face our fair share of new challenges when the next legislative session begins," Kelly said in a statement, although she noted that she was committed to her legislative priorities, such as halting the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring education funding remains robust.
4. Controversial candidate Aaron Coleman wins Kansas House race
Further compounding the woes for House Democrats was the news that Aaron Coleman, the controversial 20-year-old candidate in Wyandotte County, appeared to beat back a write-in challenge from incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter.
Coleman defeated Frownfelter in the primary before media reports surfaced about Coleman previously admitting to revenge porn and bullying multiple girls in middle school. Multiple outlets, including The Capital-Journal, later reported that Coleman’s ex-girlfriend accused him of verbal and physical abuse in 2019.
"People's Democracy has returned to the free state of Kansas after 110 years," Coleman, a democratic socialist, said in a Twitter post. He later said in a follow-up post that he had galvanized other DSA members to wade into Kansas politics.
Democrats have threatened to refuse to seat Coleman in the event he won his election over Frownfelter, who was backed by House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita.
A spokesperson for Sawyer didn’t immediately return request for comment Wednesday.
5. Voters flock to polls in record numbers
Roughly 1.3 million voters have voted, the Secretary of State’s Office reported Wednesday, which would mean turnout currently sits at about 68%.
That is just shy of the original projections, but the number is likely to rise further as more mail ballots trickle in, with a more accurate number expected next week.
Roughly 50,000 advance mail ballots remain unreturned, although it isn’t clear that all of these ballots would have been postmarked by Tuesday’s deadline. The state has reported no systemic delays with the U.S. Postal Service.
State officials said they were unaware of any widespread issues, including any errors affecting the reporting of results.
One issue that did crop up Tuesday was a series of robocalls targeting voters, telling them to stay home and not to head to the polls. The Secretary of State’s Office said Tuesday evening that it had referred the matter to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice.
The story has been updated to clarify that while media reports surfaced about Aaron Coleman’s bullying after the primary, his actual public acknowledgement of the incidents took place beforehand