New poll shows Trump up by 24 in Kansas; judicial retention races may be close

In this file photo, voters take to the polls at Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd Terrace, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.

A new poll from Fort Hays State University shows Republican Donald Trump with a commanding lead in Kansas over Democrat Hillary Clinton. But some Kansas Supreme Court justices may face tough battles for retention.

The latest “flash” survey of 346 likely voters, conducted Nov. 1-3, shows Trump leading Clinton, 58-34 percent in Kansas. The poll had a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points in either direction.

Those numbers are much closer in line with Kansas results in other recent presidential elections than last week’s “Kansas Speaks” poll that showed Trump polling below 50 percent, only 8 percentage points ahead of Clinton.

In the last four presidential elections, 2000-2012, GOP candidates have averaged 59.1 percent of the vote in Kansas; Democrats have averaged 38.3 percent.

The Kansas Speaks poll was a large survey covering many races and issues that was conducted over a period of six weeks beginning Sept. 1, a time frame during which many voters may have still been making up their minds.

“I think you’re seeing Republicans across the country coming home,” University of Kansas political science professor Burdett Loomis said of the latest survey.

In other races, the poll showed Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran with a commanding lead over his challengers: 77 percent for Moran compared with 13 percent for Democrat Patrick Wiesner of Lawrence and 10 percent for Libertarian Robert Garrard of Edgerton.

In the hotly contested judicial retention races, though, the FHSU poll showed 4 of the 5 Supreme Court justices in a tough battle for retention.

Conservative groups have targeted those four to be not retained because of their rulings in death penalty cases, school finance and other issues. They are Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Associate Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles and Marla Luckert.

They have also campaigned to retain Justice Caleb Stegall, who is Gov. Sam Brownback’s only appointee to the court.

Another group, Kansans for Fair Courts, has campaigned to retain all five justices.

The FHSU poll showed none of the justices coasting to an easy win. The four justices being targeted had identical numbers: 46 percent in favor of retention; 35 percent saying they would not retain them; and 19 percent undecided.

Stegall, meanwhile, is doing only marginally better, with 52 percent saying they would vote to retain; 29 percent saying they’ll vote not to retain; and 19 percent undecided.