New KSN poll shows Roberts and Orman tied for U.S. Senate

FILE - Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, left, listens while independent candidate Greg Orman answers a question during a debate at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Hutchinson, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

WICHITA, Kansas — The Democratic candidate in the race for U.S. Senate, Chad Taylor, withdrawing last week from the race has created an interesting dynamic going forward, in the race to represent the state of Kansas on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill.

The latest KSN News Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA exclusively for KSN-TV, released Monday indicates that, if the race for the U.S. Senate were held today, September 8, and Chad Taylor’s name remained on the ballot, Independent Greg Orman and incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts are effectively tied. Orman would get 37 percent of the vote, while Sen. Roberts would get 36 percent of the vote.

Ten percent of likely voters polled still said they would vote for Chad Taylor, despite the fact that about 7 in 10 likely voters in Kansas are aware that he has withdrawn from the race.

According to the latest KSN News Poll, Randall Batson, a Libertarian, would get 6 percent of the vote.

Eleven percent of likely voters polled remain undecided.

The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent.

KSN News Political Analyst, Jeff Jarman, believes it is now anyone’s race to claim, especially considering the large number of undecided voters polled.

“We’re just now getting the dynamics of this campaign. We’ll have to see how these candidates play on the fact that there are just two of them in the race right now,” said Jarman.

KSN Political Analyst Jeff Jarman continued by saying that there will inevitably be Democrats who will vote ‘Democrat’ on the ballot, regardless.

“It’s interesting that so many people are still willing to vote for Taylor especially when we know they are familiar with the issue. I think they are really just more undecided. They’re not quite sure where they are going to go,” said Jarman. “The troubling thing for Orman in all of this [is that] people may be inadvertently be voting for a candidate on election day who doesn’t want the position.”

Last week, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Chad Taylor did not comply with state law to remove his name from the ballot. He said Taylor didn’t formally declare that he would be unable to serve if elected. Kobach said Taylor’s only recourse is filing a lawsuit. Kobach is up for re-election in Kansas.

Click image for poll breakdown.

Sifting through the numbers further, KSN found that Orman gets 52 percent of the Democratic vote, 42 percent of the Independent vote, and 26 percent of the Republican vote. Roberts holds 59 percent of the Republican vote, and is backed by 11 percent of Democrats, and 16 percent of Independents. Orman leads among the most educated voters and among the most affluent voters.

The contest for the U.S. Senate is effectively tied in the greater Wichita and Kansas City area.

Voters who focused on the economy back Orman over Roberts 3-2 ratio. Voters who focused on Obamacare back Roberts over Orman 2-1 ratio.

More numbers show that of voters that had planned to vote for Taylor prior to his withdrawal from the race, 43 percent would vote for Orman, 30 percent would still vote for Taylor, 15 percent would cross-over and vote for Roberts, and 7 percent vote would for Batson.

KSN also discovered that 71 percent of voters were aware that Chad Taylor asked to have his name removed from the ballot and 58 percent knew that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach refused to take Taylor’s name off the ballot.

SurveyUSA interviewed 825 Kansan adults 09/04/14 through 09/07/14. Of the adults, 723 were registered to vote. Of those registered, 555 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the general election that will be held on 11/04/14.

As indicated in the latest KSN News Poll, voters say the most important issues in deciding their vote are: jobs and the economy as the top issue (41%), Obamacare (24%), and finally, immigration (16%). KSN reached out to both the Roberts and Orman campaigns on Monday, seeking answers to these specific policy questions.

  1. What specific plans does the candidate have to bring jobs to Kansas? What specific success does the candidate want to tout as a demonstration of bringing jobs to the Kansas economy?
  2. Does the candidate think Obamacare should be repealed all together, or does he think Obamacare should be modified?  If modified, what specifically does the candidate feel should be changed and why?
  3. The President has said he will delay Executive Action on the immigration issue until after the November election. Does the candidate want to see Congress act on immigration instead? If so, what should be done?

Sen. Roberts’ new campaign manager, Corry Bliss, responded to KSN’s policy questions with the following statement, via email:

“Senator Roberts is proud of the fact that he always puts Kansas first, and that means bringing jobs home to Kansas. He has brought thousands of jobs to Kansas by bringing the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility to K-State to his tireless fight to reduce regulations, lower taxes, and create an environment that allows Kansas businesses to grow, hire, and thrive.”

“However, the best thing we can do to create jobs and get the economy moving again is to change the makeup of the U.S. Senate, and remove Harry Reid as majority leader.  The only way to do that is by re-electing Senator Pat Roberts in November.”

“Hand in hand with Senator Roberts’ priority of helping small business is repealing Obamacare.  Obamacare restricts access, raises costs, hurts seniors through cuts to medicare, and put all of us at risk of losing our doctor. All of which are critically important issues to Kansas voters.”

“On the issue of immigration, Senator Roberts has made his position clear, as has Greg Orman. Senator Roberts stands in steadfast opposition to the President’s impending executive action to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.  While Greg Orman, as recently as Saturday, publicly stated his support for amnesty.”

“When these issues are fully and fairly debated, we are confident the people of Kansas will once again support Senator Pat Roberts.”

KSN reached out to the Orman campaign for a response to the survey. We asked the following questions and received a response Tuesday afternoon.

We asked what specific success does Orman want to tout as a demonstration of bringing jobs to the Kansas economy?

Greg is the only candidate in this race who has built businesses and created jobs right here in Kansas. Shortly after finishing college Greg started his first business, Environmental Lighting Concepts (ELC), which designed energy efficient lighting systems for commercial and industrial companies. ELC opened offices in Kansas and expanded nationwide, and in 1997 Orman sold a majority stake of the company to Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L). It was renamed Custom Energy, and it’s headquarters was ultimately moved to Kansas, where it employed over 60 people. Afterward, Greg was asked to direct KCP&L’s entire portfolio of competitive businesses, which he grew from $100 million to almost a billion dollars in annual revenue.

In 2004, Orman co-founded Denali Partners, LLC, which provides capital and management services to help small businesses thrive. In 2012, Orman purchased and turned around Combat Brands, a Lenexa-based distributor of sporting apparel, which was on the brink of bankruptcy. Orman saved Kansas jobs at Combat and continues to grow new ones today.

Since jobs and the economy came in as a top issue, we asked what specific plans does Mr. Orman have to bring jobs to Kansas?

Greg has traveled the state extensively and understands that the economic development needs in Kansas vary by region. He is already working to bring housing developers to western kansas, where housing constraints have become a barrier to further economic development and job growth.

Greg believes that one of his responsibilities as a U.S. senator would be as an ambassador for economic development opportunities throughout the state. Drawing on his experience as an executive and investor in more than 30 businesses, Greg will serve as a catalyst for business development and job creation throughout Kansas.

Another important issue in the poll was the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. We asked if Mr. Orman thinks it should be repealed or modified? If modified, what specifically does Mr. Orman feel should be changed and why?

Greg believes that the debate over the ACA is a demonstration of what’s wrong with Washington. We had a health care affordability crisis before the ACA and we have a health care affordability crisis today. Instead of seeking to address this issue, members of both parties have politicized the ACA and are ignoring the broader affordability crisis. Mr. Orman believes Congress needs to examine the reimbursement systems in health care and alter the incentives to reward quality outcomes instead of the quantity of procedures performed.

And finally, about immigration, we asked if Mr. Orman wants to see Congress act on Immigration instead of an Executive Action from President Obama? And if so, what should be done?

Greg believes that the dysfunction in Washington as it relates to immigration is creating significant uncertainty for businesses and agricultural interests throughout Kansas. The lack of a solution is restricting economic growth, and it’s one more example of how partisan politicians in Washington are hurting small businesses here in Kansas.

The President, however, should not bypass Congress on such an important issue. Congress, however, has to get its act together and create a coherent policy that addresses this uncertainty. The fact is both parties have been negligent on this issue. When Mr. Roberts first took office in 1981, there were 3 million undocumented people in this country, and today there are more than 11 million. Inaction on this issue is no longer an option.