Republican Donald Trump leads Democrat Hillary Clinton in Kansas, but his lead is much narrower than is typical in the GOP stronghold, according to a poll.
Trump leads Clinton by 8 percentage points, according to a new poll from Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs. Trump was the preferred candidate of 47 percent of voters, while Clinton drew support from 39 percent, according to the survey of 892 likely voters conducted by phone between Sept. 1 and Oct. 13.
Libertarian Gary Johnson drew support from 9 percent of voters, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein drew 1 percent. Another 4 percent of voters said some other candidate. Independent candidate Evan McMullin is not on the Kansas ballot and was not an option in the survey.
The results have a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
“Even among folks in the GOP, they haven’t rallied around their candidate because Trump is a different kind of candidate from what we’ve seen before,” said Chapman Rackaway, a political scientist at the university. “Look at your Twitter feed. How many of the Republicans and conservatives that you follow are pining wistfully for Mitt Romney right now, the same guy who they were claiming wasn’t conservative enough for them in 2012?”
Romney, the Republicans’ presidential candidate in 2012, won Kansas by 21.6 percentage points.
Rackaway said that dissatisfaction with Trump explained the level of support for Johnson in Kansas. More than half of the respondents who said they would vote for a third-party candidate said this would be their first time to do so.
The survey also shows deep dissatisfaction with Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature.
A strong majority, 74 percent, said they were either very dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied with Brownback’s job performance. Nineteen percent of respondents said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the governor’s performance. The rest were undecided.
Brownback’s office did not immediately comment on the poll.
A majority of voters, 57 percent, also disapproved of the Legislature’s job performance; 29 percent said they were satisfied. Every seat in the Legislature is up for election this year.
Rackaway saw the Legislature’s low approval rating as related to the state’s ongoing budget challenges. However, he noted that there is no consensus among respondents about how to fix the state’s finances. About one third favored spending cuts only, while another third wanted tax increases only. Another third wanted a combination.
This is the first time the Legislature has had a lower approval rating than President Obama in the poll, noted Gary Brinker, the Docking Institute’s director. Obama had an approval rating of 40 percent, while 55 percent of the poll’s respondents said they were dissatisfied.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the Legislature is unpopular “because they have essentially rubber-stamped Sam Brownback’s reckless agenda for the past six years.”
Well less than half – 39 percent – of respondents supported keeping Brownback’s signature policy, an income tax exemption for business owners. The rest – 61 percent – said business owners should have to pay taxes on their income.
The Kansas Supreme Court was the most popular of the state’s institutions, with 53 percent of voters saying they were satisfied with the court and 26 percent expressing dissatisfaction.
When voters were asked specifically whether the court’s justices should be retained, the results were more mixed. Five of the court’s seven justices are standing for retention this fall. One third of poll respondents said all five should be retained. Another third supported retaining some of the justices, and 15 percent supported retaining none.
A justice needs to win a majority of the vote in order to be retained. All five justices were slightly under that mark in the poll. About 36 percent of respondents said they were still undecided; 22 percent or fewer said they did not want to retain one or more justices.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, who is up for re-election, was fairly popular compared with other office holders, with 44 percent of respondents saying they were satisfied with his job performance. Another 34 percent said they were dissatisfied, while the rest were unsure.
“He’s the one who’s the most engaged,” Rackaway said. “You always see Moran out at different events. He’s very present.”
The poll also looked forward to the 2018 election, surveying respondents about several politicians who are viewed as potential candidates for governor. Respondents were asked to rate politicians on a scale from minus-5 to plus-5 with scores above zero indicating a net positive feeling.
Democrat Paul Davis, who lost to Brownback in the 2014 race, scored 1.4, the highest of any politician in the poll.
Republican U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo had net positives, scoring .63 and .27, respectively. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt scored a .5, putting him with a net positive score as well.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach had the highest name recognition of any of the politicians in the survey, with 81 percent saying they had heard of him. But he also had the highest negatives. Kobach, who has been in the news lately because of legal battles over the state’s voting restrictions, scored -.65 on the scale.