- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2014

Kansas voters strongly favor the GOP in terms of party identification, yet that Republican edge dropped in the first half of the year to sink to its lowest point since 2009, according to Gallup.

Nearly half of Kansans, 47 percent, said they identify with or lean toward the Republican party, a tally that’s down 5 points from 2013 but still 13 points higher than the Democrat side.

While the GOP remains dominant, the eroding support is key because two prominent Republicans — Sen. Pat Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback — find themselves in competitive re-election battles this fall.

“These data generally suggest Republicans should be in a strong position for the midterm election, despite this year’s drop in GOP identification,” Gallup said. “But statewide polling shows that both Roberts and Brownback have a real race on their hands.”

Mr. Roberts is trying to stave off independent Greg Orman, an entrepreneur who got a boost when Democratic candidate Chad Taylor dropped out of the race. Political observers question whether Mr. Orman, if elected, will be truly independent or have to pick a side, perhaps caucusing with Democrats.

Gallup said nearly as many Kansans describe themselves as moderate (36 percent) as they do conservative (38 percent), “which may be one reason the self-described moderate Orman is performing so well in the polls.”

Also, reports that Mr. Roberts does not own his own house in the state have prompted attacks that he is out of touch with the state.

Mr. Brownback, meanwhile, is battling Democratic challenger Paul Davis, a state lawmaker who is leveraging disappointment with the governor’s tax-cutting agenda.

Brownback promoted the tax-cutting legislation as actions that would create jobs and grow the state economy,” Gallup said. “However, Kansans had a relatively small amount of confidence in their state economy by the end of 2013.”

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