Poll shows governor’s race tightening; Dole stumping for Roberts

The polling firm Rasmussen Reports on Monday released details of its latest poll that appears to show the Kansas governor’s race tightening, but which raises as many questions as it answers.

Their latest poll, conducted Sept. 16-17, shows Democrat Paul Davis leading by four points, 47-43 percent over Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. That’s significantly closer than Rasmussen’s earlier poll in August which showed Davis up by 10 points.

It also shows a closer race than either of the other two recent public polls in the governor’s race. The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Davis up by 6 points in mid-September, while SurveyUSA showed Davis ahead by 7 points earlier in the month.

Buried within the top line numbers are a few details that might explain why the race is tightening – or at least why the Rasmussen polls show that it is.

Perhaps the most intriguing statistic, and the most puzzling, is the breakdown by race.

Among non-white voters, Davis held a 64-25 percent advantage over Brownback in August. That wasn’t especially surprising for a Democrat, given the way blacks and Hispanics have voted in recent national elections. In 2012, for instance, exit polling showed Barack Obama won 93 percent of the African-American vote and 73 percent of the Hispanic vote.

But September, according to Rasmussen, those numbers for Brownback and Davis have virtually flipped. The new poll shows Brownback leading among non-whites, 51-36 percent. That’s a 26-point swing in Brownback’s favor in the course of one month.

No other public poll has showed anything similar to that.

One explanation could be a statistical error in sampling. While the overall poll of 750 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, the margin within small sub-groups is higher because of their comparatively small sample size.

Among all voters, the Rasmussen poll shows that more people now know who Paul Davis is, no doubt the result of increased media attention and increased advertising on both sides including negative ads put out by the Brownback campaign.

While Davis’ favorability rating, at 45 percent, is about the same as last month, his unfavorable rating has climbed eight points, to 33 percent.

In August, nearly one-fifth of those surveyed (19 percent) said they had never heard of Paul Davis. Today, his anonymity factor is down to 12 percent.

Rasmussen also asked people which candidate they trust more to deal with different types of issues. Last month, Davis led in every category – spending; taxes; social issues; and ethics and corruption. Davis had a 10-point advantage over Brownback in trust to deal with social issues.

This month, the gap on social issues has narrowed to just four points (42-38 percent), and Brownback now scores even with Davis on trust to deal with government spending: 40 percent each.

Dole, McCain stumping for Roberts

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is bringing in the big bats this week to give his sluggish campaign an extra boost, including former Sen. Bob Dole and former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

Dole, the 91-year-old retired senator who has spent a lot of time back in Kansas in recent months, is scheduled to appear Monday night with Roberts for a town hall meeting in Dodge City. On Tuesday, he’ll be at Roberts events in Kinsley and Greensburg.

Dole served in the Senate from 1969 through 1996, when he stepped down to run for president. That same year, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum also retired. Roberts was elected to Kassebaum’s old seat, and Sam Brownback won a special election to fill the remainder of Dole’s term.

McCain, R-Ariz., is scheduled to appear for a campaign event at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Roberts’ Johnson County campaign headquarters, 12651 Metcalf Ave., in Overland Park.

Both Dole and McCain won Kansas but lost to Democrats in their respective presidential bids: Dole to Bill Clinton in 1996; McCain to Barack Obama in 2008.

Finally, on Thursday, the Roberts campaign says only that there will be a “special guest” at a campaign event in Independence. The event is an 8 a.m. pancake breakfast at the Independence Historical Museum and Arts Center.