A presidential poll that shows how different Lawrence is than the rest of Kansas; new study ranks best small cities in America
In case you hadn’t noticed, it is polling season. I think we probably agree that poll season would be more enjoyable if it involved politicians and pollsters climbing tall poles. Instead, it involves trying to predict a winner of the presidential race, which now appears is being controlled by Fidel Castro and a pair of voodoo dolls.
We reported Sunday on a statewide poll that showed Donald Trump was ahead of Hillary Clinton by 8 points in Kansas. That was before the latest pin prick, also known as the FBI’s announcement regarding new emails potentially related to its investigation of Clinton. So, the results may be different now.
But we also have a Douglas County poll on the presidential race, and it does a good job of illustrating just how different we are from the rest of the state. Among a sample of registered voters in Douglas County, Clinton is ahead of Trump by about 42 percentage points. In other words, there is a 50 point difference in Lawrence’s preference versus that of the state as a whole.
That sounds like a new bumper sticker to me: Lawrence: 50 percent different than the state of Kansas. (I know what the rest of the state is thinking. That bumper sticker will never work in Lawrence. It is too long to fit on a Prius bumper.)
Of course, all of this depends on these two polls being reasonably accurate. The statewide poll was conducted by Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs. The Douglas County poll was conducted by the Journal-World in partnership with Google Surveys. The Fort Hays State poll was a traditional telephone poll. The Journal-World poll was a form of internet polling. I guess I would label the poll as quasi-scientific. (There are science teachers choking on their cereal over such a phrase, especially the ones who know I only quasi-passed several science courses.)
The Google Survey poll is much different than a standard Internet poll that allows people to vote when they want to vote and as many times as they want to vote. Instead, Google uses a program that randomly samples a portion of the approximately 35,000 daily users of the LJWorld.com website. Users have no ability to choose whether they are asked to participate in the poll or not. The survey is presented when people click on an article, and they are asked to complete the survey before they view the article. And yes, we know some of you just quickly click on an answer to get to the article. Google factors that into its analysis by red-flagging the answers that were given very quickly.
So, since we will have election results in a week, this may be a good test to see how accurate the Google Survey poll is. As a side note, we’re conducting another one currently since it is possible the FBI story may change the race some.
Regardless, here is a look at the findings from the Douglas County poll, which ended up with a sample of about 700 registered Douglas County voters who say they are likely to vote in the upcoming election:
— 62.7 percent plan to vote for Clinton; 19.8 percent for Trump; 6.8 percent for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson; 4.3 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein; and 6.4 percent plan to vote for none of the above.
— In the U.S. Senate race, 62.8 percent plan to vote for Democrat Patrick Wiesner; 26.3 percent for Republican Sen. Jerry Moran; 6.7 percent for Libertarian Robert D. Garrard; and 4.2 percent for none of the above.
— In the 2nd Kansas Congressional district race, 61.5 percent plan to vote for Democrat Britani Potter; 26.2 percent for Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins; 8 percent for Libertarian James Houston Bales; and 4.2 percent for none of the above.
— And when respondents were asked to rate their level of confidence that the election process in Kansas will produce results that accurately reflect the will of the voters, 60 percent of respondents ranked their confidence level 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest confidence. Just under 30 percent ranked their confidence level a 3 or below.
As for the presidential results, if Clinton does win about 63 percent of the Douglas County vote, that would be in line with past results. Obama won 60 percent of the Douglas County vote in 2012 and 64 percent in 2008. The difference comes on the Republican side. Trump’s 20 percent showing would be well below other Republicans in past elections. Romney in 2012 won nearly 36 percent of the Douglas County vote, while McCain won 33 percent in 2008.
Related stories — Journal-World Voter Guide: 2016 Douglas County ballot
In other news and notes from around town:
• This may not mean much more to you than any of the presidential polls, but there is a new report out that attempts to rank about 1,000 small cities in the U.S., and Lawrence is on it.
The folks at the financial website WalletHub ranked 1,268 cities with a population between 25,000 and 100,000 using primarily Census data and other federal statistics to measure income, housing, health and other categories.
Lawrence ranked in the 34th percentile of the study. Top-ranked communities are in the 99th percentile. Average cities are in the 50th percentile. So, the 34th percentile is in the bottom half of the ranking. Interestingly, we ranked last among all the Kansas communities ranked.
However, Lawrence ranked in the top 20 percent in the country in several categories including: economic health, No. 183; education and health No. 198 and quality of life No. 229. Lawrence received an incomplete in the category of safety rank. I’m guessing that is because the WalletHub folks couldn’t find Lawrence’s crime statistics on the FBI site. When we did our report on Lawrence crime trends, we couldn’t find information on the FBI site either. We had to get the data from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations.
The area where Lawrence performed poorly, though was in the “affordability rank.” We ranked No. 910 out of 1,268. More on that in a moment. But first, here is a look at how other Kansas communities ranked overall in the report.
— Leawood: 99th percentile
— Shawnee: 92nd percentile
— Lenexa: 88th percentile
— Salina: 60th percentile
— Dodge City: 59th percentile
— Leavenworth: 51st percentile
— Hutchinson: 50th percentile
— Garden City: 46th percentile
— Manhattan: 40th percentile
— Lawrence: 34th percentile
I’m dubious about some of the findings of this report. I’m pretty confident there are several cities on this Kansas list that would trade overall situations with Lawrence today. Lawrence and Manhattan both may be hurt some by being college communities and naturally having some income statistics that are skewed downward by the large number of students who don’t earn much at this point in their lives.
But, the affordability issue is one that is drawing a lot of attention from Lawrence leaders. This report actually serves as a good reminder about how differently affordability can be viewed. Any guesses on what the third most affordable small city in America is, according to this report? Answer: Leawood.
Let me assure you home prices in Leawood are far higher than they are in Lawrence. By my calculations, the average wage earner in Lawrence could afford a home in Leawood as long as the human body can withstand giving about 182 quarts of plasma per day.
The median value of a home in Leawood is $210,000 more than the median value of a home in Lawrence. Leawood’s median home checks in at about $388,000. But the median household income in Leawood is also about $87,000 more than it is in Lawrence. Leawood’s median income checks in at about $134,000.
So, while it is still a little tough to hear affordable and Leawood together, the report does highlight that affordability doesn’t necessarily hinge on how much a home costs, but rather how much you have left over after you pay your housing expenses.
That means there are a couple of different ways to address affordability. You can look at lowering how much homes sell for, work to increase the amount people earn, or some combination of the two. Lawrence leaders understand that equation. Doing any of those things on a large scale, though, is difficult. Lawrence leaders have a lot to think about to truly find an answer for Lawrence’s affordability issues.
The old F-150 and I have been out checking polling sites in Lawrence today, and the results are unscientific (almost everything that happens in the F150 is) but it sure appears that the west side of Lawrence is getting out better than the east side of Lawrence.
I was out over the noon hour at several east Lawrence polling places, and only at one did I encounter more than one voter. Shortly after lunch, there was a steady stream of voters at pretty much every west Lawrence site I went to today.
Here are some of the numbers I gathered:
• Checkers, 23rd and Louisiana, at noon: 29 voters of 921 registered; 3.1 percent turnout.
• Prairie Park Elementary, 2711 Kensington Road, at 12:30 p.m.: 123 of 3057; 4.0 percent turnout.
• Douglas County Fairgrounds 19th and Harper, at 12:40 p.m.: 65 of 1,877; 3.4 percent turnout.
• New York Elementary, 936 New York St., at 1 p.m.: 69 of 1,031; 6.6 percent turnout.
• East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th St., at 12:45 p.m.; 62 of 1,193; 5.1 percent turnout.
• American Legion, 3408 W. Sixth St., at 1:20 p.m.: 142 of 987; 14.3 percent turnout.
• Mustard Seed, 700 Wakarusa Drive, at 1:30 p.m.: 204 of 1,751; 11.6 percent turnout.
• Langston Hughes Elementary, 1101 George Williams Way, at 1:45 p.m.: 325 of 2,450; 13.2 percent turnout.
• Corpus Christi, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway, at 1:50 p.m.: 125 of 1329; 9.4 percent turnout.
• 360 Church, 3200 Clinton Parkway, at 2:10 p.m.: 103 of 1,160; 8.8 percent turnout.
Polls are open until 7 p.m., so there's still plenty of time for this trend to change. But it would be no surprise if the votes from the west side of town far outweigh the number from the east side. That has been the trend the last few municipal elections. There were questions, though, whether the school bond issue would alter that balance a bit. We’ll see.
As for what a heavy westside turnout would mean for the races, I suppose there could be any number of interpretations. On the City Commission race, it probably makes the race more competitive for Rob Chestnut, who finished fourth in the primary election. The primary election numbers showed a good amount of his support came from the west side of town. As it is shaping up, I expect a close contest for that third and final spot on the commission.
Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew provided this report that showed totals for pretty much every precinct at 10:30 a.m. You can do your own ciphering with it.
As for me, I have to put gasoline in the F-150. Now I see why elections are so expensive.