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Kansas Poll Shows Low Approval for the Governor, Tight Race in the First District

The poll shows low approval ratings for Governor Sam Brownback and the state Legislature. (Photo by Dan Skinner)

Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature continue to be unpopular, and the primary race in the 1st Congressional District is in a dead heat, according to a new survey from the Fort Hays State University Docking Institute.  With the presidential nominations settled, and Kansas races heating up ahead of the August 2nd primaries, Brad Pendergast, with the Docking Institute, says it was time for some new polling numbers. The survey was sponsored by several Kansas newspapers.

The polling shows 77 percent of respondents dissatisfied with Governor Brownback, which is the latest in a string of sagging approval numbers for the state’s chief executive.  “Probably the person who has taken the biggest hit over time has been Governor Sam Brownback,” says Pendergast.  The governor’s spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, told the Wichita Eagle the only poll that matters is “the ballot box.”  “Kansans have twice elected Sam Brownback as governor for his pro-life, pro-second amendment, limited government policies,” Hawley said to the paper.

Other state officials didn’t do much better in the survey. Only 25 percent of respondents say they approve of the job state lawmakers in the Kansas Legislature are doing.

Around one in three people said they were satisfied with President Barack Obama.  In the so-called Big First congressional district that stretches from Manhattan, Kansas to the Colorado border, incumbent Tim Huelskamp is fighting for his political life. His challenger, Roger Marshall, has the endorsement of important farm groups. The two conservative Republicans are split nearly dead even, with both polling right around 40 percent. The survey shows 15 percent of respondents undecided.  “We actually oversampled the 1st District in Kansas because we wanted to have decent numbers to look at the Huelskamp/Marshall race,” says Pendergast.  Huelskamp's campaign says their internal polling shows the congressman leading.

Low approval for incumbent Republicans in Kansas, so far doesn't spell trouble for the presidential nominee. They survey says Republican Donald Trump leads Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Kansas presidential race, 44 to 27 percent.

The survey also asked Kansans about some high-profile issues, including firearms. More than half of respondents said they support banning military-style assault rifles. Less than half said they support banning high-capacity magazines. A big majority said they support banning the sale of firearms to people on the no-fly list.

On education issues, almost half of those polled said transgender students should use the bathroom of their sex at birth. Nearly two-thirds said the government overstepped its authority when handing down federal guidelines on transgender student bathroom use.

Around a third of respondents said they support the school funding agreement that lawmakers approved to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling on school funding. Another third had no opinion on the legislation.

Overall, more Kansans were satisfied with how the Supreme Court has handled education funding compared to the Legislature. A third were satisfied with how justices handled the issue, compared with only 11 percent satisfied with how lawmakers handled it.


Newscast version

A new survey from Fort Hays State University shows Governor Sam Brownback and the state Legislature are still unpopular with many Kansans, while the congressional race in the 1st District is a dead heat. KPR's Stephen Koranda reports.

Stephen Koranda is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for Kansas Public Radio and a partner in a statewide collaboration covering elections in Kansas.  Follow Stephen on Twitter @kprkoranda. #KS2016

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