Laura Kelly holds narrow lead in Kansas governor’s race: poll

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) narrowly leads state Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) in the state’s gubernatorial race, according to a new Emerson College Polling-The Hill survey released on Wednesday.

Kelly leads Schmidt 45 percent to 43 percent among very likely voters in the state, falling well within the survey’s 3-point margin of error. Another 8 percent said they were undecided, while 3 percent said they were planning on voting for Independent candidate Dennis Pyle.

The poll also showed the Democratic governor with a lead among independent voters. Forty-six percent of independents said they favored Kelly, while 30 percent said the same about Schmidt.

Kelly is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors up for reelection this midterm cycle. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss-up.” The Democrat was first elected to the state’s governor’s mansion in 2018, defeating Republican nominee Kris Kobach. Republicans argue that Kelly’s victory was due to Kobach being a weak candidate, while Democrats point to the governor’s high approval ratings.

The poll found that 53 percent of Kansas voters said they viewed Kelly favorably, while 37 percent said they have an unfavorable view of her. Forty-five percent of the state’s voters said they had a favorable view of Schmidt while 37 percent said they had an unfavorable view of him.

Democrats have also expressed optimism in Kansas after the state’s voters overwhelmingly rejected an anti-abortion ballot initiative last month. The Emerson College-The Hill poll found that 48 percent of voters said their views aligned with Kelly on the issue of abortion, while 44 percent said the same about Schmidt.

However, Democrats still face an uphill battle in Kansas President Biden’s approval rating sits at 36 percent in the traditionally red state, while his disapproval rating is at 58 percent. And Republicans are leading in other down-ballot races as well: According to the poll, incumbent Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) leads his Democratic challenger, Mark Holland, 45 percent to 33 percent. Meanwhile, in the race for state attorney general, Kobach leads his Democratic challenger, Chris Mann, 41 percent to 39 percent.

The Emerson College-The Hill poll was conducted Sept. 15-18 among 1,000 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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