15 separate public opinion polling firms are attempting to make sense of what is happening in Kansas in 2014, and no 2 of those polling firms agree. Here is how SurveyUSA sees Kansas, in our final pre-election tracking poll for KSN-TV in Wichita.
* In the race for United States Senator, independent challenger Greg Orman 44%, incumbent Republican Pat Roberts 42%.
* In the race for Governor of Kansas, Democrat Paul Davis 46%, incumbent Republican Sam Brownback 43%.
Because the Senate race has national implications, we’ll examine that first. Either candidate may win. A narrow victory for Orman or a narrow victory for Roberts would be consistent with these findings. 10% of voters (including 21% of younger voters) remain undecided. A lopsided win for either candidate is not anticipated, barring some extraordinary event in the final 7 days of the campaign. Since the courts ruled that Democrat Chad Taylor’s name could be removed from the ballot, SurveyUSA has polled the Senate contest twice. 3 weeks ago, Orman led by 5 points, today by 2 points.
Roberts holds 67% of the Republican base. 23% of Republicans break ranks and vote for the independent Orman. Orman gets 74% of the Democratic vote and 48% of the Independent vote. Orman is backed by 60% of moderates and 84% of Kansas’ few liberals. Roberts holds 79% of the conservative base. To win, Roberts will need to do better than 67% among Republicans and better than 79% among conservatives.
Voters say that jobs are the most important issue in the US Senate contest, and on jobs, Orman leads Roberts by 25 points. Among voters who are focused on health care, Roberts leads Orman 2:1. And among voters who are focused on immigration, Roberts leads Orman by more than 2:1. In greater Wichita, Roberts leads by 4 points. In greater Topeka, Roberts leads by 6 points. But in greater Kansas City KS, Orman leads by 14 points. To win, Roberts must out-perform these numbers in the rural parts of the state.
In the Governor’s race, either candidate may win. A narrow victory for the Democratic ticket of Davis and Jill Docking or a narrow victory for the Republican ticket of Brownback and Jeff Colyer would be consistent with these findings. A lopsided win for either candidate is not anticipated, barring some extraordinary event in the final 7 days of the campaign. Since the Republican Primary, SurveyUSA has polled Kansas 4 times. Brownback has never led. He trailed by 8 points in August, by 7 points in September, by 5 points three weeks ago, and by 3 points today. Can Brownback catch Davis by Election Day? Possibly.
But among the Republican base, Brownback has never had more than 70% support, and finishes today at 67%. One in four Republicans cross-over and vote Democratic. Among Democrats, 84% back Davis-Docking, just 9% cross-over. Independents break 4:3 Democrat, and it is here that Brownback’s team can see movement, and have hope. 3 weeks ago, Brownback trailed by 27 among Independents, today by just 7.
Among men, where Republican candidates typically lead by a handful and strong Republicans lead in double digits, Brownback is even, 44% to 44%. Among women, where Democrats often run stronger than do Republicans, Davis-Docking lead by 5 points, 47% to 42%. Importantly: Davis at one point led among women by 15, then by 12, then by 11, today by 5. Momentum is on Brownback’s side. But: 14% of poll respondents tell SurveyUSA they have already returned a ballot, and among this group, Brownback trails by 19 points. To win, he most overcome these “banked” votes, and win decisively among late-voters and Election Day voters.
In the contest for Secretary of State, incumbent Republican Kris Kobach is in the fight of his life. 8 days until votes are counted, it’s Kobach 45%, Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf 45%. If both Roberts and Brownback win on Election Day, Kobach will be re-elected. His constituency is the same as the top-ticket Republicans. If Orman and Davis unseat the high-profile Republicans, Schodorf may take the seat from Kobach, as part of an across-the-board sweep. All 3 regions of the state are tightly contested: Kobach leads by 5 in greater Wichita, and leads by 2 in greater Topeka. Schodorf leads by 6 in greater Kansas City KS. Immigration is now seen as the most important issue in the SOS contest, and on that issue, Kobach leads by more than 2:1. On the issue of voter registration, the candidates split. And on the issue of campaign finance reform, Schodorf is favored by 43 points.
Cell-phone respondents and home-phone respondents included in this research: SurveyUSA interviewed 800 state of Kansas adults 10/22/14 through 10/26/14. Of the adults, 680 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 623 were determined by SurveyUSA to have either already returned a ballot or to be likely to do so before the 11/04/14 deadline. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed-mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (75% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (25% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their tablet, smartphone or other electronic device. You must credit KSN-TV if you air, cite or publish these results in whole or part.