Few states are more reliably Republican than Kansas when it comes to funneling money to campaigns.
And despite Mitt Romney’s lackluster showing at the Kansas Republican caucuses in March — where Republican voters gave Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum a 51 percent to 21 percent win over Romney — Romney is ahead in campaign donations from Kansans.
Romney ended the last finance reporting period in late June with $648,631 in contributions from Kansans, compared with President Obama’s $513,544.
Overall, Romney has 36 percent of all the money Kansas individuals have spent on presidential campaigns, with 28 percent going to Obama and the rest to Republican candidates who have dropped out or to third-party candidates with almost no chance of winning.
And the numbers are likely to get more lopsided now that the Supreme Court largely upheld the president’s landmark Affordable Care Act, often simply called Obamacare.
“I think that’s going to activate the Republican base more than anything else," said Ken Ciboski, a Wichita State University political science professor who tends to side with Republicans.
And some Democrats are a bit disappointed that Obama seemed to let Republicans dominate the health care debate, said Mel Kahn, a WSU political science professor who tends to support Democrats.
“I think (Republicans) have an incentive to whip him even though social conservatives aren’t that excited about Romney,” Kahn said.
Ciboski noted that it may take time to see if that enthusiasm survives as Romney tries to capitalize on the health care decision while also remaining tied to the Massachusetts health care law that required most residents to get health insurance.
Whatever cash flows out as a result of the Supreme Court decision may matter more to number crunchers and political observers than average voters, Kahn said.
Once candidates hit a certain threshold of name recognition and financing, extra chunks of money don’t matter very much unless they pay for an incredibly effective political ad — not just a typical attack, but a game changer that brands a candidate or his or her opponent.
And the impact of individual contributions, which are limited, has been blunted by a 2010 Supreme Court decision that allows corporations, unions and advocacy groups to spend unlimited money to support or oppose a candidate through super PACs that have already spent more than $100 million.
The $1.8 million that Kansans have given to presidential candidates is less than 1 percent of the $523 million collected by all presidential candidates during this election cycle, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.
But the balance of that spending makes Kansas stand out.
The state ranks fifth in terms of percentage given to Republican candidates, with 73 percent of its federal election spending of nearly $7.4 million going to Republicans.
It’s outdone only by Tennessee, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks political money.
The state’s modest giving to Democrats — 24 percent of all political contributions on the federal level — gives it enough to outdo 13 other states in terms of percentage given to Democrats.
Jane Schmidt, a retired nurse, said her husband Marcus, a retired prosthetics chief with the Veterans Administration, gave $2,000 to the Obama campaign last year and said they had given to his campaign in prior years.
She praised Obama for getting the Affordable Care Act approved, which will help people with pre-existing conditions and others without health insurance get the insurance and care they need.
She said that economic problems created by the housing crisis, European economic woes and a host of other political issues have created a huge set of challenges for Obama.
"It’s going to take more than four years to undo the mess created over past years," she said.
Schmidt said her husband’s donation is a drop in the bucket, especially considering the Citizens United decision that allows corporations to donate unlimited amounts in support or opposition of candidates.
"This really says the rich people will control who becomes president," she said. "And it really messes with ‘one person, one vote.’ "
Jeff Johnson, president of Flint Hills National Golf Club and a partner in several restaurant operations, is one of the Republican contributors. During this cycle, he and his wife have given $5,000 to Mitt Romney — the maximum allowed.
He acknowledges that it’s not much in the context of a huge presidential campaign machine. But he said it represents his enthusiasm for Romney’s stance for smaller government and free-market ideals.
“I just feel so strongly," he said. “As a business person, I’m so turned off by bigger government, entitlements and people expecting handouts."