A new statewide poll shows Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., would easily carry Kansas in a presidential race against President Bill Clinton.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole would hammer President Bill Clinton in a head-to-head race for the White House, but likely Kansas voters think a third-party candidate could change the race's complexion.
According to polling by Political/Media Research of Washington, 56 percent of Kansans now support Dole, and 29 percent endorse Clinton.
However, all is not lost for Kansas Democrats in 1996.
The poll showed Clinton could carry the state if Dole -- the state's favorite son -- lost the GOP nomination and retired Gen. Colin Powell declared as a third-party candidate. Powell would be the spoiler if the Republican Party made Sen. Phil Gramm the nominee.
"I think Powell is the big sleeper in the whole race," said Russell Getter, associate professor of political science at Kansas University. "If he should decide to get into the race, I'd imagine wealthy contributors across the country would line up seeking to back him."
Karl Trautman, an associate professor of political science at Baker University in Baldwin, said it should come as no surprise that the state's six electoral votes were Dole's to lose if he captured the nomination.
"Dole would get the state most assuredly," Trautman said. "There's no question."
The telephone poll conducted Thursday to Sunday for the Journal-World and other media outlets had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Poll participants were divided among the state's four congressional districts. Half were men, half were women. The affiliation of respondents was 46 percent Republican, 34 percent Democrat and 20 percent independent.
When asked who they would vote for among Republican contenders, Dole led the pack with 58 percent.
Results for other Republicans were: Gramm, 13 percent; Pat Buchanan, 7 percent; Pete Wilson, 5 percent; Arlen Specter, 2 percent; Richard Lugar, 1 percent; Bob Dornan, 1 percent; and undecided, 13 percent.
The poll indicated that Kansans had a relatively negative opinion of the president. Statewide, 44 percent had an unfavorable view of Clinton. On the other hand, only 24 percent had an unfavorable opinion of Dole.
Sixty-five percent of people polled said Dole, 71, wasn't too old to be elected chief executive. However, 42 percent indicated he should limit his presidency to one term.
Most national polls have shown Dole is the clear front-runner among GOP presidential contenders.
However, Getter said, early poll results were tricky to interpret because name recognition played a big role.
"Dole does benefit from being Senate majority leader," he said. "There's no question about the willingness of the media to put Dole out in front and to give him more recognition.
"It makes it awfully difficult for someone like Specter or Gramm to get the same kind of media attention."