U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum is one of the most popular senators in the country, as judged by her constituents.
In terms of job performance, you can't get much higher marks than U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum.
The retiring Republican senator is in third place in constituent popularity among the 100 members of the U.S. Senate, according to a new Journal-World poll.
"She might go down as the most popular Kansan in history," said Del Ali, vice president of Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research, which conducted the survey for the J-W and other media outlets.
The survey showed that of the sample of likely Kansas voters polled in September, 29 percent rated Kassebaum's job performance as "excellent," 52 percent as "good," 12 percent as "fair," 4 percent as "poor" and 3 percent were undecided.
The poll combined her "excellent" and "good" ratings to get an overall positive rating of 81 percent.
That was second only to U.S. Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine, who had 82 percent, and was tied with U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. Byrd was rated higher because he had a higher "excellent" rating.
In contrast, about a fifth of the voters don't seem to know much about U.S. Sen. Sheila Frahm, R-Kan., who is serving until January in Bob Dole's former seat.
Frahm, the former lieutenant governor who was appointed in June by Gov. Bill Graves, lost the GOP August primary to U.S. Rep. Sam Brownback.
The J-W poll showed Frahm ranked 99th in constituent popularity among the 100 senators, with an overall score of 33 percent. That was just above last place U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., who had a 30 percent rating.
The J-W poll showed 2 percent rated Frahm as "excellent," 31 percent as "good," 27 percent as "fair," 19 percent as "poor" and 21 percent as "undecided."
"In fairness, a lot of people don't have an opinion," Ali said of Frahm's rating. "She hasn't been in very long, so people haven't had time to evaluate her performance."
Kassebaum, who was first elected in 1978, is the daughter of the late Alf Landon, the 1936 GOP presidential nominee.
Ali said Kassebaum has always ranked among the top five senators in popularity in similar polls.
"She is the ultimate consensus builder. She works as well and is respected by as many Democrats as Republicans," Ali said. "Her final testimony to that is the Kassebaum-Kennedy health care bill."
Allan Cigler, a Kansas University professor of political science and government, said, "She's a nice woman.
"My sense is that even Democrats in a state like this view her as maybe the best they can do," Cigler said. "Even Democrats view her as a reasonable Republican."