Immigration, health care top issues for Kansas voters
CHICAGO (AP) — Democrats won the governor’s race and seized a GOP House seat in the red state of Kansas Tuesday night, where more than half of voters — 52 percent— said the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a wide-ranging survey of the American electorate.
President Donald Trump was a factor for half the state’s voters — with 29 percent saying they cast ballots to express opposition to him, AP VoteCast found.
Kansas voters elected Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly as governor, turning aside outspoken Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a strong ally of the president. Democrat Sharice Davids will become the nation’s first LGBT and Native American woman in Congress after winning in the 3rd District, which had been reliably Republican.
Here’s a snapshot of who voted and why in Kansas, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, an innovative nationwide survey of about 139,000 voters and nonvoters — including 3,963 voters and 780 nonvoters in the state of Kansas — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
RACE FOR GOVERNOR
Kelly had a sizeable lead in support from women and younger voters in Tuesday’s race.
Jerry Wright, a 26-year-old die-cut machine operator from Topeka, said he’s a Republican but didn’t support Kobach. He said he wanted a break from former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax-cutting.
“We need time to recover from that,” Wright said.
Kelly performed better with urban and suburban voters while Kobach led among rural ones.
Fifty two percent of Kansas voters said they had a somewhat or very favorable opinion of Kelly while the same percentage said they held a somewhat or very unfavorable view of Kobach.
Voters were split on the top issue before the nation. A quarter considered health care the most important issue and another quarter named immigration as the top issue.
Immigration has been a volatile issue in the Kansas; Kobach emphasized enforcing tough policies to deter illegal immigration. But the meatpacking and agriculture industries rely on immigrant labor.
Sixty-nine percent of Kansas voters said immigrants living in the country illegally should have the chance to apply for legal status.
Margaret Masilionis, an 84-year-old state worker and self-described “proud Democrat,” took exception to President Trump’s rhetoric on immigration.
“We all came from immigrants, Masilionis said. “I don’t understand how we can exclude people and go to bed at night feeling that we’re fair Americans.”
Kansas voters also named the economy, foreign policy and gun policy as top issues in this election.
STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Voters were upbeat about the nation’s economy — 66 percent said the nation’s economy is good, while the remaining said it’s not good.
The state’s low unemployment rate, currently 3.3 percent, has remained exceptionally low.
The economy is on an upswing, said Angie Turnbow, a 43-year-old owner of a small Topeka business that makes uniforms and other items for sports teams.
“I probably am a little bit more conservative, and I definitely think there is something to be said for encouraging growth in small businesses, businesses in general, American business,” she said.
Kansas voters have a mixed opinion of President Trump, with 51 percent saying they approve of his performance as president while 48 percent said they disapprove.
Twenty-nine percent say they voted to express opposition to Trump, compared to 26 percent who voted to express support for the president.
Trump is doing a “terrible job” said James Jenkins, a 48-year-old truck driver from Topeka and a registered Democrat.
Perry Schmiedeler, a 22-year-old Washburn University of Topeka student and a registered Republican, said Trump is doing a fine job but the president didn’t sway his votes for other offices.
“It’s not as bad as everyone thought, I think,” he said of Trump.
In Kansas, a majority of registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A large share of those who did not vote —78 percent— did not have a college degree. Republicans accounted for 4 in 10 of nonvoters while Democrats made up about 2 in 10.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate in all 50 states conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 3,786 voters and 755 nonvoters in Kansas was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, concluding as polls close on Election Day. It combines interviews in English or Spanish with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from opt-in online panels. Participants in the probability-based portion of the survey were contacted by phone and mail, and had the opportunity to take the survey by phone or online. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.0 percentage points. All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error, including from sampling, question wording and order, and nonresponse. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.
Associated Press writer John Hanna contributed to this story.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics