Topeka With a large majority of Kansas voters satisfied with his performance in office, President Bush easily carried the state in Tuesday's election.
Six electoral votes were at stake in Kansas. The Republican president had 61 percent of the vote with nearly half of the state's precincts reporting, compared to 38 percent for Democrat John Kerry.
If that margin held up, Bush would win a larger victory in Kansas than he did four years ago. No Democrat has carried Kansas in 40 years.
About two-thirds of all voters said they approved of the way Bush is handling his job, and the same proportion approve of Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, according to a survey of 654 voters for AP and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
"I don't think it is real good to change presidents in the middle of war," said Sheryl Rorabaugh, a 53-year-old Peck resident, who voted for Bush. "Bush got us going in it, and I'd like to see him end it."
Three other candidates split the remaining 1 percent of the vote: Ralph Nader, listed as the Reform Party nominee; Libertarian Michael Badnarik; and Michael Peroutka, listed as an independent but running nationally as the Constitution Party nominee.
The war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism were foremost in many Kansans' minds.
Some Kansans questioned last year's invasion of Iraq, arguing Bush should have concentrated instead on capturing or killing Osama bin Laden.
And Sandra Grabauskas, a 55-year-old Frito-Lay Inc. equipment operator from Topeka, said she voted for Kerry because of the war's ongoing casualties.
"I think we're losing too many guys," she said. "We're losing them day after day, and that's not right."
But Tuesday's results indicated that far more voters were like Greg Palmer, a 53-year-old Topeka resident and partner in an Internet services company, who said Bush has done a good job of trying to combat terrorism.
"I like the fact that he's taken the war to them, as opposed to letting them come to us," Palmer said.
Jim Mank, a 24-year-old Overland Park student, is an independent but voted for Bush, calling his handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "remarkable."
In Belle Plaine, Brett Williams, a 22-year-old political science student at Cowley County Community College and Friends University, wore a Bush cap to his polling place.
"I think what we are doing in Iraq is the right thing to do," Williams said.
Four years ago, Bush received 58 percent of the vote, compared to 37 percent for Democrat Al Gore.
The last Democrat to carry Kansas was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Republicans have prevailed here in 28 of the 35 previous presidential elections since statehood in 1861.
Forty-six percent of the state's 1.69 million registered voters are Republicans, outnumbering Democrats by more than 326,000.