“Republican” U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is facing a tougher-than-expected reelection battle in Kansas – a state heretofore reliable in its election of GOP nominees.

Roberts recently won the “Republican” nomination in the Sunflower State by a 48-41 margin over Tea Party-backed candidate Milton Wolf (with 11 percent of voters supporting other candidates).

Game over, right?  Wrong …

According to the results of a recent Survey USA poll, Roberts is only leading his Democratic opponent Chad Taylor by a 37-32 percent margin.  Where’s the rest of the support going?  Well, 20 percent of those polled say they’re backing independent candidate Greg Orman – three times the level of support he was receiving just two months ago.

“Roberts’ numbers have been steady,” noted political analyst Jeff Jarman of  “Taylor’s numbers have been steady. It’s Orman who is gaining ground.”

And if Orman continues to gain momentum, there’s speculation that national Democrats might ask Taylor to drop out of the race.

Orman isn’t the only potentially credible candidate threatening to throw a monkey wrench into the traditional “red” versus “blue” calculus.

In South Carolina, “Republican” Lindsey Graham is – like Roberts – deeply unpopular with voters.  He’s facing a credible Democrat (S.C. Sen. Brad Hutto) as well as an independent challenger – former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel.  According to several internal polls provided to FITS, Ravenel is currently drawing between 13-15 percent support – and he has yet to spend a dime of his considerable fortune on media messaging.

Meanwhile in North Carolina vulnerable incumbent Kay Hagan is in a dogfight against establishment “Republican” Thom Tillis (both are drawing a little over 40 percent support) – although the real story is the emergence of Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh, who is currently drawing the support of eight percent of voters.

“This is a real problem for the establishment,” one national consultant told FITS. “Kansas, North Carolina and possibly South Carolina – all are potential GOP losses because the party has pissed on the base. Atlas is shrugging and flipping the GOP the bird in the process.”

Yup … and good for them.

You can predict the establishment handwringing, though … which attempts to guilt non-liberals into doing as they are told by asking “what are you going to do, elect a Democrat?”

That’s just the thing, though … increasingly, people are realizing there’s not a damn bit of difference between the two establishment parties.

“Republicans” may win the U.S. Senate in 2014 … but these three races are worth watching.  Assuming you still buy the whole “red versus blue” distinction.

We clearly don’t …