Bob Dole is truly Kansas' favorite son, according to a new statewide presidential poll sponsored by the Journal-World and other media outlets.
A new statewide poll released today shows Bob Dole leads Bill Clinton 51 to 38 percent among Kansans likely to vote in November's presidential election.
However, the poll shows Dole isn't as well liked in the east as in the western part of his home state. And it shows Dole is better liked among men than women.
The poll was conducted earlier this week by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc., of Washington, D.C., for the Journal-World and other media outlets.
"Clearly, Bob Dole enjoys a strong lead in Kansas," said David Miller, chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, when told of the poll results.
"His numbers in the west are higher than in the east, and that's not surprising," Miller said. "He represented the west since 1960 and we all know the important factor that geography is in Kansas politics."
Dennis Langley, chairman of the state Democratic Party, saw the results differently. The poll, he said, "is very bad news for Dole."
Langley said other polls show Clinton's lead across the country ranges between 5 percent to double-digit percentages. But Clinton has 70 to 80 percent of the electoral votes, Langley said.
"Dole should be doing a lot better in Kansas. It's his bedrock state," Langley said. "If he's barely crossing into double digits in his home state, he's in serious trouble."
Allan Cigler, a Kansas University professor of political science and government, disagrees with Langley's view that Dole should be worried.
"I think what it shows is Dole is a very partisan figure. Kansas Democrats view him less as a Kansan than they do as a partisan Republican," Cigler said.
Cigler said he wasn't surprised by Dole's 13-point lead.
"If I had to make up results, they would be close to that," he said. "Dole is a partisan Kansan and has his detractors as well. It pretty well parallels party identification differences."
The poll also showed that Texas billionaire and 1992 Independent candidate Ross Perot has a 58 percent "unfavorable" rating in the state. In a three-way presidential match-up, Dole has 46 percent, Clinton 35 percent and Perot 11 percent support of likely voters.
Poll results indicated Dole could be helped if retired Gen. Colin Powell were his running mate -- 52 percent of the voters say Powell being on the ticket would make them more likely to vote for Dole. A Dole-Powell ticket leads Clinton-Gore by 23 points in Kansas, 55 percent to 32 percent.
Abortion as an issue
The poll also tracked opinion on the hot-button issue of abortion. Fifty percent of the poll respondents describe themselves as pro-life and 47 percent as pro-choice.
And if Dole selects a pro-choice running mate, 11 percent say they would be more likely to vote for him, 17 percent say less likely and 72 percent say it would have no effect.
Langley said the Mason-Dixon poll was the first he had seen where more voters took the pro-life position than the pro-choice position.
While the poll showed 50 percent pro-life to 47 percent pro-choice, Langley said most polls show about 60 percent of the voters are pro-choice.
Tight race locally
One interesting result of the pole is that Dole and Clinton are in nearly a dead heat in the state's 3rd Congressional District, which includes Lawrence, most of Douglas County and Johnson, Wyandotte and Miami counties.
Among 3rd District likely voters, 45 percent favor Dole compared to 43 percent who would vote for Clinton, with 12 percent undecided.
Dole's greatest support is in the 1st District, which includes most of the state west of Wichita. Respondents in that area favored Dole 58 percent to Clinton's 31 percent.
The poll also showed Dole has a stronger appeal to men than women in Kansas.
Among men, Dole leads Clinton 57 percent to 34 percent, with 9 percent undecided. Among women, the margin narrows -- Dole with 45 percent, Clinton 42 percent and 13 percent undecided.
Cigler said nationally, Dole has had trouble getting support from women.
"This may be one of the few states where Dole right now beats Clinton in terms of the women's vote, but that was close, too," Cigler said.
The poll was conducted in telephone interviews Monday through Wednesday of 827 registered Kansas voters who said they regularly vote in state elections.
The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. That means there is a 95 percent chance that the true figure would fall within that range if the entire population were sampled. The margin of error is higher for subgroups.