Most voters are still undecided in the race for attorney general, according to a survey taken this week.
Wint Winter Jr. says he's encouraged by a poll done this week that shows him leading his two rivals in the Republican race for attorney general.
But the poll also shows two-thirds of the Republicans and nearly three-fourths of the Democrats planning to vote in the Aug. 2 primary are still sizing up candidates.
"This is crunch time," said Winter, a former state senator from Lawrence. "With these down ballot races, people start to pay attention in the last weeks of July."
In the poll, 21 percent of 334 likely Republican primary voters said they would vote for Winter, 7 percent for Carla Stovall, Topeka, former chair of the Kansas Parole Board, and 5 percent for state Sen. Mike Harris, Wichita. Sixty-seven percent said they were undecided.
The poll also showed that none of the three Democrats in the race has a major advantage.
The 223 likely Democratic primary voters surveyed showed 13 percent supported former House Speaker Marvin Barkis, Louisburg; 8 percent supported Richard Schodorf, a former Sedgwick County district attorney; and 6 percent supported Jerry Shelor, a Topeka attorney. Seventy-three percent were undecided.
Meanwhile, the poll also showed that State Treasurer Sally Thompson, a Democrat, would receive 32 percent of the vote in her re-election bid, while Republican Randy Duncan had 24 percent. Forty-four percent were undecided.
Mason-Dixon, a Columbia, Md., political and media research company conducted the telephone poll, surveying 820 registered voters from Sunday to Tuesday. The poll was sponsored by the Journal-World and three television stations in Wichita, Topeka and in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
If anything, the poll shows candidates that anything can happen in the primary races for attorney general.
"I expect the candidates to come out swinging a little harder," said Schodorf, expressing surprise that the gap was so close in the Democratic primary. "I love the results because that means the votes are out there to be gotten and the individuals who have something to say will win this race."
Campaign officials in the GOP and Democratic primary races for attorney general say the large number of undecided voters indicates races are wide open.
"Our billboards just went up this week," said Nancy Lindberg, Stovall's campaign manager. She said Stovall's campaign advertising will try to sway the undecided vote in the next weeks.
"I'm sure all the numbers will change in the next three weeks," said Harris' campaign manager, Eric Weldon.
"Clearly, I'm pleased that we're ahead, but there are also a great number of undecided voters," said Kay Coles, Barkis' campaign manager.
Martha Walker, Shelor's campaign manager, agreed.
"I think the numbers are so low in terms of where people are leaning, you really can't draw any conclusions right now," Walker said.