In it, but not of it. TPM DC

After Democratic nominee Chad Taylor withdrew from the Kansas Senate race on Sept. 3, things looked pretty grim for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). At his worst moment, in late September, he trailed independent candidate Greg Orman by more than 7 points on average. It looked like it would take a miracle for Roberts to avoid falling victim to the most surprising upset in 2014.

It took some work -- national Republicans cleaned out the Roberts campaign and started over with their own people -- and some time for outside money to come to his aid. But with less than two weeks to go, Roberts has climbed back into the race and holds a narrow 0.5-point edge, according to TPM's PollTracker average.

He's done it by playing hard to the conservative base that nearly ousted him in the Republican primary this summer and relentlessly pounding Orman as a closet liberal who would boost Obama's agenda. But therein lies a risk. Roberts has rebounded by going hard right -- but he has to hold onto some moderates to counter Orman's appeal to the middle and his nearly universal support among Democrats.

It's a narrow path to victory, everybody watching the race agrees. But it's a much more realistic one than anyone would have thought a month ago.

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Republicans are in shape to easily keep the House of Representatives this fall and probably pick up a few seats, thanks to advantages enjoyed by incumbency, redistricting and off-year turnout.

But with Election Day just two weeks away, there are a number of House races worth keeping an eye on — some of them feature scandal-plagued or otherwise wacky candidates, others are bellwethers that could signify the national mood and yet others are close races poised to go down to the wire.

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Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) was the subject of a brutal headline on Tuesday from a conservative website, which obtained a copy of his college thesis and suggested that he had opposed federal desegregation in Arkansas in the 1950s.

The Washington Free Beacon didn't specifically make that assertion, but it highlighted a portion of his 1985 thesis and implied as much — the headline read, "Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor: Desegregation an ‘Unwilling Invasion.’"

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Black voters could have a major impact in the hard-fought U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, and both candidates are making direct appeals to them in dueling radio ads.

A new radio ad by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) features an African-American woman calling on Kentuckians to support the Republican incumbent because he "fights for our community and cares about us."

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