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Monmouth University Polling Institute

U.S. Senate Toss-Up

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monmouth University Poll finds Dem leading for Governor

The Monmouth University Poll finds a tied race in the Kansas U.S. Senate contest between Republican Pat Roberts and independent Greg Orman.  In the race for Governor, Democratic challenger Paul Davis holds a 5 point lead over GOP incumbent Sam Brownback.

In the election for U.S. Senate, Kansas voters who are likely to cast a ballot next month divide their vote - 46% for GOP incumbent Pat Roberts and 46% for independent challenger Greg Orman.  Another 3% say they will vote for a different candidate and 5% remain undecided.

In the race for Kansas Governor, 50% of likely voters support Democratic challenger Paul Davis and 45% support GOP incumbent Sam Brownback.  Another 2% say they will vote for a different candidate and 3% remain undecided.

"The Kansas polls have been volatile ever since the Democratic nominee withdrew from the Senate race.  There may be enough ticket splitting to give the Republicans a win in one contest but not the other," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

The challengers in both contests claim greater than 2-to-1 support among independent voters, but Davis has more solid backing from Democratic voters than does the independent Orman.  Specifically, 62% of self-identified independents support Davis for Governor while 31% support Brownback.  A similar 60% of independents support Orman for Senate while 32% support Roberts.  Among Democrats, Davis commands 91% of the vote to 9% for Brownback.  Orman gets a smaller share of the Democratic vote - 81%, to 14% for Roberts. 

Another factor making this race close - aside from the strong independent tilt toward the challengers - is that both incumbents have not completely locked up their own partisan base.  In the election for Governor, 77% of Republican voters choose Brownback to 17% who prefer Davis.  In the Senate race, 76% of Republicans say they will vote for Roberts while 14% prefer Orman.

The poll finds that Kansas voters offer a divided assessment of the leading Senate candidates' qualities.  When asked which candidate understands the concerns of Kansas voters, 33% choose Orman, 31% choose Roberts, 5% choose both, and 27% say neither candidate does.  When asked which candidate is honest and trustworthy, 28% say Orman, 25% say Roberts, 11% say both, and 28% say this describes neither candidate.

Kansas voters have a slight preference for wanting to see the Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate - 37% prefer the Republicans, 29% prefer the Democrats, and 30% say it makes no difference.  However, among the group of voters who say party control of the Senate makes no difference to them, 48% intend to vote for Orman, 36% intend to vote for Roberts and a sizable 12% are still undecided.

"With no clear preference on candidate qualities, it's possible that undecided voters could be swayed by the idea of having an independent voice in the Senate.  Orman is wise to keep his caucus intentions under wraps for now," said pollster Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll  also found that likely voters in Kansas hold a negative opinion of Pres. Barack Obama.  Just 37% approve of the job the president is doing and 59% disapprove.

The Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone from October 16 to 19, 2014 with 429 Kansas voters likely to vote in the November general election.   This sample has a margin of error of ± 4.7 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     If the election for U.S. Senate was today, would you vote for Pat Roberts, the Republican, Greg Orman, the independent, or some other candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]    [IF UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following at this moment, do you lean more toward Pat Roberts or more toward Greg Orman?]

2.     If the election for Governor was today, would you vote for Sam Brownback, the Republican, Paul Davis, the Democrat, or some other candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]    [IF UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following at this moment, do you lean more toward Sam Brownback or more toward Paul Davis?]

3.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?

4.     Which party would you like to see control the U.S. Senate – the Republicans or the Democrats, or would it make no difference?

[QUESTIONS 5 AND 6 WERE ROTATED]

5.     Which candidate for Senate understands the concerns of people like you – Pat Roberts, Greg Orman, both of them, or neither of them?

6.     Which candidate for Senate is honest and trustworthy – Pat Roberts, Greg Orman, both of them, or neither of them?

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from October 16 to 19, 2014 with a statewide random sample of 429 likely Kansas voters drawn from a list of registered voters who voted in at least one of the last four general or primary elections and indicate they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. This includes 339 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 90 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, gender, and party registration based on state registration list information on the pool of voters who participated in recent midterm elections. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and L2 (voter list). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points. Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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