Republican Gov. Sam Brownback faced a stiff challenge from Democrat Paul Davis in Tuesday’s election, while three-term GOP Sen. Pat Roberts battled independent Greg Orman. Here’s a look at preliminary findings from exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks:
DAVIS STRENGTHS: Davis was doing well with college graduates, voters with annual incomes below $50,000, those who feel the nation is on the right track and those are unmarried.
BROWNBACK STRENGTHS: Brownback drew support from voters without college degrees, white evangelical or “born-again” Christians, those who feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction and those with incomes above $200,000.
AGE GAP: Orman was popular with younger voters, especially those ages 18-29, who favored him by a 2-to-1 margin. Voters over age 50 favored Roberts, who ran especially strongly with those over 65.
ROBERTS STRENGTHS: Roberts did well among voters without a college degree, those with annual incomes of $100,000 or more, those who believe the federal government should do less and opponents of same-sex marriage.
ORMAN STRENGTHS: Orman was popular with self-described political moderates, college graduates, voters with incomes under $30,000 andthose favoring legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
ON THE ISSUES: Nearly half the voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the nation, and a majority of them supported Orman, as did most of those who chose health care. But Roberts drew strong backing from those considering illegal immigration or foreign policy most important.
About half the state’s voters believed the 2010 federal health care law went too far, and they strongly supported Roberts. The rest said it didn’t go far enough or was about right. They went heavily for Orman.
SENSE OF PLACE: Orman’s strongest support came from cities with populations over 50,000, while Roberts did equally well in small towns and rural areas. Kansas suburban voters were almost evenly divided between the two. The situation was much the same in the race for governor, with Brownback leading in small towns and rural areas, Davis ahead in larger cities and the suburbs split.
SOUR MOOD: Nearly two-thirds of Kansas voters disapproved of President Barack Obama’s performance, and most of those sided with Roberts. But Republican leaders in Congress fared no better, and most voters dissatisfied with them backed Orman. Nearly three in four voters felt the nation was headed down the wrong track, and about four in five were worried about the direction of the nation’s economy in the next year.
TAX CUTS: Roughly half of the voters said that tax cuts Brownback pushed had mostly helped Kansas, while about two in five said they had hurt.
PERCEIVED WEAKNESSES: Voters were evenly divided over whether the dealings of Orman’s businesses made them concerned about his overall honesty, while about two-thirds said Roberts had spent too much time away from Kansas to represent the state effectively.
The preliminary exit poll of 1,477 Kansas voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 25 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 287 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.