Editorials

Could Hillary Clinton win in Kansas?

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump among likely Kansas voters.
Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump among likely Kansas voters.

The big shocker in a recent Zogby poll was that Hillary Clinton was leading Donald Trump among likely Kansas voters. Could she really win here?

It’s possible but seems unlikely – though it may depend on whether Trump continues to make dumb and offensive comments.

The poll was commissioned by the Kansas Health Foundation and looked at state government and the presidential election. Not surprisingly, it found Kansans overwhelming dissatisfied with state government, with 71 percent of those surveyed feeling negative about the government’s performance and only 13 percent feeling positive.

But what was surprising – and raised eyebrows nationally – was that Clinton led Trump by 7 percentage points, 43 to 36 percent. That’s remarkable, given that a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t carried Kansas since 1964, and Mitt Romney won the state by 22 points in the 2012 election.

One big caveat is that 21 percent of those surveyed were not sure yet which candidate they would support. Also, a whopping 65 percent of Kansans surveyed were dissatisfied with the two nominees. So there could be a lot of movement in public opinion between now and the Nov. 8 general election.

Still, the poll result was significant enough that pollster John Zogby labeled Kansas a battleground state this election.

Speaking last week at a symposium in Wichita held by the Health Foundation, Zogby said that the polling is “a statement about Trump,” who, as a Republican, ought to be leading big in Kansas but isn’t.

Trump’s problem in Kansas is that he doesn’t appeal to many serious conservatives (who don’t believe he is one of them) or to moderate Republicans. Many voters (though not enough) also are appalled by his racist comments, such as his recent claim that a Hispanic judge is biased against him and his proposal, repeated this week after the Orlando nightclub shooting, to prevent all Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. Then there are the bluster, bullying and conspiracy theories.

Still, Kansas has been so reliably Republican for so long that it is difficult to fathom it voting otherwise – and especially for Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, this is already an election few could imagine.

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