Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Taking Back Kansas: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius still leads & even her opponent wonders

By Diane Silver

Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius continues to defy the odds in red-state Kansas as a new poll shows her holding a double-digit lead over her Republican opponent. The polster picked Sebelius to win.

The new Rasmussen Reports poll shows the race narrowing with Sebelius' lead dropping from 17 points in July to 11 points. In a poll taken Aug. 23, Sebelius leads 48 percent to 37 percent. The poll surveyed 500 adults and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent. The Rasmussen article notes:
The Governor's support has yet to rise much above 50% in any case. But the decline reflects the closer competition we often see in a final campaign stretch and have been seeing in races around the country

Sebelius's current lead is comparable to what we saw in April, when her support was at 49%. A Democrat in a Republican-leaning state, the incumbent continues to enjoy high favorables and job ratings, with 35% viewing her "very favorably," only 11% "very unfavorably." Thirty-two percent (32%) "strongly approve" of her performance as Governor.

Barnett is viewed very favorably by only 19%, and although fewer (9%) see him very unfavorably than see the Governor that way, he's still an unknown to 18%. By contrast, only 3% are "not sure" what to think of the Governor (and only 1% abstain from assessing her performance).

By the way, to call Kansas a "Republican-leaning state" is to understate matters a bit. We're a Republican-dominated state with nearly twice as many registered Republicans in Kansas as registered Democrats.

The Lawrence Journal-World quotes Washburn University Political Science Professor Bob Beatty on the poll:
Sebelius' 11 point lead represents what is now a fairly (and strikingly) consistent 8-13 point lead over Barnett in RR polls taken since January. This lead has remained consistent through the legislative session, the GOP primary, Barnett's victory, and Sebelius' first three TV ad campaigns ("Respect," "Clips" and the now famous ad of the Governor driving a school bus).

Meanwhile, Barnett is still trying to raise money. He told AP:

"It's going to be a tough race," Barnett acknowledged during an interview. "I'm not saying I will win, but I have the faith that I can win."

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