Sunflower Showdown

06.26.14

Poll Shows Kansas Republican In Trouble

Incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback is losing to a Democrat according to the most recent poll of the Kansas gubernatorial race.

In this topsy-turvy political year nothing quite seems to be certain. While Barack Obama remains deeply unpopular and dragging down the fortunes of fellow Democrats, it doesn’t make Republicans terribly popular either.  This has particularly shown in the plight of GOP incumbents in normally deep red states like Kentucky and Kansas. But, while the national media has focused on Mitch McConnell’s close race for reelection to the Senate in the Bluegrass State, little attention has been paid to Sam Brownback’s issues in Kansas.

Brownback is an incumbent governor and former two-term senator in a state that has only supported the Democratic candidate for president once in the past 75 years. However, a new poll has Brownback losing 47%-41% to Democrat Paul Davis in his bid for re-election. While the Sunflower State is far more likely to elect Democrats in state races than in federal races, no one has ever confused the state with Massachusetts.

Just because Brownback is down in one poll in June doesn’t mean that Republicans should press the panic button, but it does hint at deeper and stranger political currents than just the easy press narratives about a weak president and a divided GOP. It's not simply that all politics is local---one of the big issues in Kansas is education funding---but that no national trend has yet to become in clear in an off-year election where voters are dissatisifed with both parties.