Archive for Monday, April 27, 2015

Poll: Kansas Legislature far to the right of most Kansans

April 27, 2015, 6:14 p.m. Updated April 27, 2015, 9:55 p.m.


— From Medicaid expansion and legalizing marijuana, to concealed-carry laws and school funding, a new survey says the prevailing political views in the Kansas Statehouse are far to the right of most Kansans.

By large majorities, the poll found, most of those surveyed said they support expanding Medicaid as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act, and they support legalizing marijuana — two issues that have gained no traction in the Kansas Legislature this year.

At the same time, an overwhelming majority said they oppose allowing people to carry concealed handguns without a permit or formal training, and more people said they oppose the new school "block grant" funding law than support it. Both measures have already passed the Legislature and were signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

"It is what it is," said Chapman Rackaway, a political science professor at Fort Hays State University, who helped design the poll. "It shows the disconnect between the people and their elected officials."

Brownback's press secretary, Eileen Hawley, said she doesn't accept the idea that the voting public disagrees with the political direction of the state.

“In November, Kansans reelected Sam Brownback to a second term as governor based on his record of growing the economy, reforming welfare, stabilizing education funding and protecting the Constitution,” Hawley said.

The annual "Kansas Speaks" poll was conducted by FHSU's Docking Institute of Public Affairs.

The survey of 519 adults was conducted March 23 through April 1 using random calls to landlines and cell phones. Of the people surveyed, 79 percent said they voted in the November 2014 elections. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Among the findings:

• Only 30 percent of those surveyed said they favor the new school funding law, which repealed the per-pupil funding formula that had been in place since 1992 and replaced it with block grants to school districts. Forty-nine percent said they oppose that law, while 22 percent said they were not sure.

That bill, Senate Bill 7, narrowly passed the House, 64-57. The Senate approved it, 25-14, and Brownback signed it into law on March 25.

• 75 percent of those surveyed oppose allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons in public without a permit or certification of formal training. That bill, Senate Bill 45, sailed through both chambers, 85-39 in the House and 31-8 in the Senate, and was signed by Brownback on April 2.

• More than two-thirds of respondents — 68 percent — said they favor allowing medical marijuana in Kansas, while 63 percent said they favor decriminalizing recreational use so that personal possession would be punishable by only a fine instead of jail time.

Two bills were introduced in the Legislature this year to legalize medical marijuana, but neither House Bill 2011 nor Senate Bill 9 received a committee hearing.

House Bill 2049, which would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession, passed out of a committee by a unanimous vote but has not yet come up for a vote in the full House.

• And 58 percent of those surveyed said they support expanding Medicaid, as allowed under the federal health care law, to cover more low-income Kansans who cannot otherwise afford health insurance. Forty-two percent oppose expansion. Two bills to expand Medicaid have been introduced this year, but neither has advanced out of committee, and Republican leaders in the House have been reluctant to allow a vote on either measure.

Rackaway said he thinks it's clear that the Legislature does not reflect the views of most Kansans.

"As much as I try to keep my ear to the ground on what people are talking about in politics, I haven’t heard people say we need to change the school funding formula significantly, or strip away the requirements for people to get a permit to carry a firearm," he said. "Those seem to be solutions in search of problems."

But he said the fault for that disconnect does not lie entirely with elected officials.

"People are not taking advantage of the opportunity to be in contact with their elected officials, so they pay attention to the people around them rather than their constituents," Rackaway said. "When legislators hear from their constituents more often, they know this isn’t something they can spin away just by saying polls are not perfect. They hear it regularly."


Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 1 month ago

"Most" Kansans should do two things. Read the constitution and vote.

Brock Masters 3 years, 1 month ago

And independently research candidates and issues. When a news article, blog or ad uses a quote to disparage someone, look up the entire comment for context.

And most importantly think for yourself - don't let anyone persuade you on how to think or vote.

Lynn Grant 3 years, 1 month ago

Eileen Hawley, get your head out. In November, Brownback was elected, receiving less that 50% of the votes cast. Certainly not a mandate and certainly not because of his record. More because of massive amounts of ugly, distorted negative information sent out by his backers. People need to get in touch with the issues, get informed, be less accepting of what they see on the internet and entertainment news programs and VOTE.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 1 month ago

This is NEWS????? The governor and legislature BELONG TO THE KICH INDUSTRIES REGIME Do you GET that?????

You saw the despicable and vicious attack ads. The billy bobs and sally sues saw them and believed this trash. They voted for these fools.

When will Kansans get it through their skulls that they brought this upon themselves by voting for these hand-picked Koch Industries Regime candidates.

Yo bought this on yourselves. Live with it.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

Why would Brownback and cronies care if they are not in sync with the people of Kansas? They do not represent the citizens of Kansas anyway. Only, Laffer, the Kochs, and ALEC. I'm personally tired of being their guinea pig. I think they need to take all their money, buy and island and create their theocracy faux libertarian experiment somewhere else.

Kate Rogge 3 years, 1 month ago

I like the results, but it seems like too much to conclude from just 519 out of 2.9 million.

Kate Rogge 3 years, 1 month ago

It was a joke. And good jokes have more than a little truth, don't you think?

Andy Anderson 3 years, 1 month ago

Where's your proof it was not a joke? Where's your proof it was a lie?

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

The magic of statistics. So long as the sampling is random, the questions are well-phrased, and the participation rate is good, you really can make guesses about a population based on a relatively small sampling.

Josey Wales 3 years, 1 month ago

The participation rate was 40%, those surveyed stated a 79% voting turnout compared to the 50.8% of Kansas voters that turned out in the last election, and the only attempt at a demographic representation was the pollsters assuming the gender of those surveyed after the call ended. Furthermore the exclusive use of phones to conduct a poll tends to marginalize the representation of minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status. While the sample size was adequate and the questions were worded fairly, there are still several problematic aspects of the poll which make it interesting yet perhaps not truly representative of the state as a whole.

Even the best run polls should be taken with a whole saltshaker of salt.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

At a 95% confidence level, the margin of error for the full sample of 519 is 4.4%

While there are methodological issues that can be pointed out with nearly every poll conducted, I have to call you out on the phone issue. The poll used both cell and land lines. Nearly all Americans, including the poor, have a phone of some sort. The saturation rate of cell phones alone hit 91% in 2013. But I'm also going to guess that if there were an exclusion of minorities and lower SES, that would actually bias the results to the right, meaning Brownback is even more out of touch with Kansans.

I agree that recording the gender silently based on the pitch of the voice is a bit iffy, but since the results were in line with the population, it probably did not bias the results.

Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 1 month ago

The article did not specify the percentage of cell or landlines used. Us old folks tend to use land lines over cell (hard to dial or see!).

Sadly however, I believe the legislature is in tune with the voting population. I sure wish everyone would vote.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

It did not need to specify. It used both methods, meaning it did not exclude the 9% of people who don't own a cell phone.

I do not believe the legislature is in tune with the voting population. They don't need to be. They still get elected. People don't pay enough attention, and a lot of legislators run unopposed.

Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree with your last sentence...but the 9% probably make a much larger percentage of the voting population.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

Ok. I doubt that fact meant that not specifying the exact percentage of each type of number they used meant that their survey was biased. Including cell data in the survey is actually the innovation. Previous surveys used to just call land lines and that excluded younger people who had given theirs up. Now they get info from both.

In fact the complaint from someone else in this thread is that a higher percentage of respondents answered that they voted than the percentage of participation we had during the election. This isn't that unusual, seeing as people truly disengaged from the voting process would likely just not complete the survey.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 1 month ago

What percent of those polled voted in the last election?

Jim Slade 3 years, 1 month ago

As stated in the article:

"Of the people surveyed, 79 percent said they voted in the November 2014 elections."

Marc Wilborn 3 years, 1 month ago

Guess the focus should be on electing more moderate state reps. next time around.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

Great goal. Hard to accomplish. Extremists tend to win the primaries.

Phillip Chappuie 3 years, 1 month ago

For you math types, that is 410 voters in the survey. What we don't know is the geographic distribution of the survey respondents. The number in rural vs. urban or western vs. eastern. That would make a potential statistically difference. But we can be sure that Ms. Hawley can't believe the inference garnered since it doesn't correspond to party line. But then again, Ms. Hawley had no idea how much it cost to operate a King Air 300. Brownback and company are currently on the heels. His boys are grasping at anything to make you think things are OK. But moving into fiscal '16 we will all see the damage. Infrastructure projects will be shortchanged. Social safety nets will fail. Education will move backward. And the big cats will thump their chest and boast at what a great thing they have done.

William McCauley 3 years, 1 month ago

"Ms. Hawley can't believe the inference garnered since it doesn't correspond to party line. But then again, Ms. Hawley had no idea how much it cost to operate a King Air 300. "

Dude that was only about 250.00 bucks per leg of the flights..... ;-)

Phillip Chappuie 3 years, 1 month ago

Negative. The average operational cost of a King Air is in the neighborhood of $1400 per hour. Close to $3000 of your taxes wasted on a joy ride.

Richard Crank 3 years, 1 month ago

We have one chance to fix this, though unfortunately it'll take some time. As my dad used to say from time to time, "Throw the bums out!"

Josey Wales 3 years, 1 month ago

It would be nice to have the length of residency included in the polls. Based only on my own experience, it seems that here in the most liberal city in Kansas a great many people are either relatively recent residents or those in transition. Not just students, but employees of KU, business people, artists, etc. I have met many, many people who have been here for five years or less and/or are planning on moving within the next year or so. In comparison, I have yet to meet even a dozen life-long residents of Lawrence.

While I personally agree with most of the sentiments represented in the poll, I am a recent addition to this community and may very well be gone in five years time. I would like to see if the opinions represented in the poll varied significantly for those who have been here for 10, 15, or 20 years. For career politicians it would make sense to cater to those who will be voting for or against you throughout the entirety of your career rather than to those that are simply in transition and may be here for only an election or two.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

I've lived here for 25 years, all my life in Kansas. My husband grew up here. Most of the people I know, and who agree with this poll, have lived here and/or in Kansas all their lives. This poll was not just concentrated in Lawrence, so what is your point?

Since you are new to this area, let me fill you in on Kansas history. Kansas, as a territory, was a battle ground over slavery and the real beginning of the civil war. Settlers from both sides tried and died for their cause. At that time the Republican party was made up of abolitionists who wanted to end slavery. The Democrat party was made up of mostly southern, pro-slavery, state's rights supporters. The Free staters won. That's why you notice many things around here named "Free State", including a high school and a brewery.

For years, Kansas continued to be mostly Republican, especially in the legislature. But mostly we had politicians who put Kansas first, so it didn't matter if someone was Republican or Democrat.

In the 60's leaders of the Democrats "sold out" (at least according to the racist and state's rights people in the south) the party. They actually were in favor of the federal government demanding an end to Jim Crow, and telling states how to treat their people of color. That's when the southern states switched to the Republican party.

Here in Kansas, though, the Republican party was the tradition, and even if they didn't align with the feelings of the people, they were close enough, and as their parents always voted Republican and their grandparents, so did most Kansans vote Republican.

Then along came the tea party. They took over at the primary level, because most Republicans do not vote in their primaries. Yes, some Kansas Republicans have become states rights supporters, unlike their ancestors, but most are voting traditionally. Some have started to wake up to what is happening, thus the close elections and the need for the Republicans to pump in more money for misleading attack ads in the last election.

Perhaps as they realize that Brownback's plan isn't working they will wake up. Perhaps not. Some will continue to believe that schools are shutting down early, because of Obama. Some in western Kansas won't get why their hospitals are closing down. Some who can't get any health care from privatized Medicaid providers will maybe wake up, or maybe they will continue to vote Republican, because that's how their grandparents, and parents voted.

Anyway, here is the history of Kansas Republicans. The original settlers, some of the great, great grand parents of the Kansas Republicans would not be welcome in the modern party, because they were federalists. Go figure.

Josey Wales 3 years, 1 month ago

My point was that it would be interesting to see if long-term Kansas residents across the entirety of the state hold different views than those who have lived here for shorter periods of time. I never stated that I thought the poll was limited to Lawrence, nor was I limiting my interest in this additional information to Lawrence, I was simply saying that my personal experience (which I clearly labeled as such) was primarily based in Lawrence.

I called Lawrence "the most liberal city in Kansas" because it clearly is. I have no problem with it being so, in fact I enjoy it. I was just wondering if at a macro level the sensibilities here and/or in the poll were possibly influenced by length of residence. It's a simple sociological question meant to help broaden discussion or gain more information, and while I truly do appreciate your historical breakdown, I feel your initial tone towards my comment is a bit more antagonistic than necessary.

Furthermore, while the sample size would be considered adequate by most researchers, the exclusive use of landlines and cell phones to conduct such poll can lead to a lack of representation of people in the lower socioeconomic classes.

Josey Wales 3 years, 1 month ago

A few other issues with the poll - 60% of those asked to take it refused, and those that did reported a 79% voter turnout in the last election, while the actual statewide turnout was 50.8%. I think it's fair to assume that the results are coming from a highly motivated subgroup.

Also, while the report states that gender representation was in line with the state, the actual gender assignment given to those taken the poll was made by the questioners themselves after the call concluded based on voice and context, not self-identification of those polled. Finally, no attempt was made to accurately represent minority populations or a variety of socioeconomic statuses.

The questions themselves however seem fairly unbiased and well written. Again, though, it's a better representation of motivated voters who have ongoing access to a telephone than of the state as a whole. So in regards to my original comment, I would place more faith in a poll that attempts to reflect the state as a whole and includes a cross-reference of a variety of sociological factors instead of "has a phone and sounded like a male/female to me".

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

Pew research reports a typical response rate of only 9%. Getting a 40% rate seems pretty good.

"A new study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that, despite declining response rates, telephone surveys that include landlines and cell phones and are weighted to match the demographic composition of the population continue to provide accurate data on most political, social and economic measures"

Randall Uhrich 3 years, 1 month ago

We're stuck with Koch-bought a Legislature and Governor, both who ignore the well-being and wishes of the people. That's what corporate governance is!

Gerald Kerr 3 years, 1 month ago

Interesting. Docking institute doesn't have an unbiased ring to it, does it? Nationwide, Washington seems to be governing far to the left of the peoples wishes. Government according to current polls has never been more feared and mistrusted. Immigration, Obamacare, foreign policy, IRS malfeasance, government spying on private citizens, corruption among the governing elites, are but A few of the issues that oppose citizens and their government.

Brownback is doing a good job amidst difficult circumstances- like a national depression which is covered up by corrupt pol's and media. . Yes the big government types and the professional democrat rock throwers are dismayed that he hasn't tucked tail and run away from their bitter, whining, criticism- yet he was easily reelected just a few months ago.

Congratlations Sam. Hold the line. Ignore the carping, bitter clingers.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

"The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University began as the Fort Hays State University Institute of Public Affairs in 1980. In October 1989, the Kansas Board of Regents changed the name to the Docking Institute of Public Affairs, in honor of Kansas Governors George Docking and Robert B. Docking and Lieutenant Governor Tom Docking. Since its inception, the Docking Institute has been a leader in facilitating public policy development for western and rural Kansas."

Nationwide, the government does not seem to be governing far to the left of people's wishes when you use objective measures, but I do love the irony when you use the phrase "bitter clingers." Yes, yes. I'm sure the media, and the polls, and the objective measures of economic performance have all just conspired to tell a story counter to your preferred narrative.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 1 month ago

Go to and there you will find many cell phones for twenty dollars. You buy a card for the amount of minutes that you wish and add the minutes to the phone. You can buy sixty minutes for twenty dollars and I have triple minutes on my phone which means I really get one hundred and eighty minutes. As long as you don't use it for lengthy chats such as to answer polls you should have all the minutes you need.

I am a poor person, a member of the lower class, always have been, always will be, always have been comfortable, physically, mentally and spiritually, with that fact. However, I am dismayed by the way my people, if I may call them that, are referred to by the liberal middle class. I have never thought of myself of marginalized or any of the other buzz words employed by those who wish to present themselves as caring about people they wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

When I was homeless and at the lowest ebb in my life it was the people who were conservative Republicans who gave me the practical, substantial help that I needed to reverse that situation. I was given a bus pass to ensure that I could get around Lawrence to do all the things necessary, and many other things. The liberals who came to the shelter and also to the drop in center as it was then did absolutely nothing but show up, pat shoulders and then leave to collect their paycheck. How much grant money has gone to pay people to say, "Oh,I am so sorry, blah, blah, blah." Frankly, most of them appeared to be stoned a great deal of the time. I learned a great deal from my time as a homeless person as much as I hated it at the time. I have a depth of understanding about people I would not have had otherwise.

See. God does work in mysterious ways.

Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 1 month ago

I have visited the homeless shelter and been homeless (by choice). In fact I would be homeless now if I didn't have my grandkids. When my grandsons became embroiled with the state It took me two weeks to get an apartment to take them in. Most of that was waiting for the apartment to be ready.

The best part of being retired is you have a steady income, no matter where you go. I know most homeless are there because of some type of medical problem.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

I find the perspective interesting. (Also I think Taran is out of line. You feel what you feel.) You didn't care for the employees but did like the volunteer. That's probably true of most places. The volunteer wants to be there. The employee needs to be there.

Ironically you thank the conservative for giving you a ticket to ride on the tax-funded public transportation system. A system that liberal Lawrencians voted to subsidize with our tax money and that many conservatives groused should just go out of business if it couldn't sustain itself through ticket sales alone.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 1 month ago

Taran, seriously, this trend of people on here calling others a liar because they disagree with them is getting old. I did indeed talk with the Captain and his wife when I was in the Salvation Army homeless shelter, several times in fact. They were conservative Republicans. I also talked with those who came to talk to the homeless for one reason or another and they said they considered themselves to be liberal Democrats.

I was a liberal Democrat at one point in time. Circumstances changed that. I never said that I asked every one who stayed at the shelter what party they voted for. I never said they the clients of the shelter or those working there or doing outreach work there were on drugs. I just made the observation that some of the outreach workers appeared to be stoned, this was from their expression and general demeanor.

Okay, next subject, please.

Andy Anderson 3 years, 1 month ago

I take Mr. Johnson with a grain of salt. His Complex emotional out bursts, he can not help.

I never try to justify comments to posters that are emotional

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

Taran was out of line, but you still need to own what you said or tell your tales with a little more clarity.

You said "The liberals who came to the shelter and also to the drop in center as it was then did absolutely nothing but show up, pat shoulders and then leave to collect their paycheck. .... Frankly, most of them appeared to be stoned a great deal of the time."

Now that appears to be a statement claiming that most of the workers there were stoned.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

She told a subjective story. Having seen her posts here for ages, I think she believes what she says. That means she may be completely wrong (and quite often is), but that doesn't make her a liar.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

Well, Leslie, I sure hope those same conservative Republicans will take you in, if the state cuts you off. From what you have said, you live off of our tax money and programs created by Democrats. You're welcome. You get Social Security and Medicare, but you support a party that has always opposed these programs. So why do you deserve these programs, and other poor people don't? Sounds pretty selfish to me.

I am a middle class tax paying citizen who also donates to homeless shelters, including the Salvation Army. And horrors, I am a liberal Democrat. You are welcome. I'm glad you are no longer homeless. I support the poor and homeless, regardless of their politics. But I think you are living in some kind of bubble, if you think conservatives will help you. They wouldn't have the means to help you if us liberals hadn't created and support the programs that support the conservative Republicans who helped you at the Salvation Army. Social Security and Medicare are two examples. And as James pointed out, the conservatives you support opposed that bus system, paid for by tax dollars. How could you have gotten a pass for that bus, if it didn't exist?

In the past, before evil Liberals created these programs, you would be living in one of the many poor houses (unless you were lucky enough to have relatives to take you in) many communities and churches set up. You would be sharing your bedroom with several other elderly people, but right next door would be maybe 2 families with children sharing the same bedroom. I assume now you are in a nice apartment, and not sharing it with anyone. And look, you have the internet. Ok the internet didn't exist back then, but, hey that was a government funded research project anyway, so if we had continued on that ole time conservative path, it would never exist anyway.

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