Coffee mugs with the images of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wait to be sold in Washington, D.C. Carolyn Kaster The Associated Press
Coffee mugs with the images of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wait to be sold in Washington, D.C. Carolyn Kaster The Associated Press

Government & Politics

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton hold leads in Kansas poll, but many voters are undecided

By Dave Helling

dhelling@kcstar.com

February 26, 2016 05:34 PM

UPDATED February 26, 2016 09:20 PM

Businessman Donald Trump and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton enjoy comfortable leads in Kansas just days before the state’s presidential preference caucuses, a new poll shows.

But many voters in both parties remain undecided about their choices and may skip the caucuses all together.

The survey, conducted by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University, shows Trump has the support 26 percent of self-identified Republicans who took part, good for first place. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was in second place with 14 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio was third with 13 percent.

Clinton leads among Democrats with 33 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — Clinton’s Democratic opponent — is supported by 23 percent of Democrats responding to the survey.

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Forty-four percent of Democrats are undecided, as are 39 percent of Republicans.

The large number of undecided voters “makes sense,” said Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University in Topeka. “Close to half of most party members are not engaged and probably won’t be caucusing.”

 
 
 

Forty percent of those surveyed said they plan to caucus, while 51 percent will not. Nine percent “may” attend a caucus.

 
 

The poll results mirror projections in other states, where Trump and Clinton have significant leads. Of the states planning primaries or caucuses on Tuesday — Super Tuesday — Trump is polling ahead of every opponent except for Cruz in Texas, the senator’s home state.

Sanders holds a commanding polling advantage in Vermont, his home state. He is also slightly ahead of Clinton in Massachusetts, according to a recent survey. Clinton leads comfortably in seven other states with recent polls, according to Real Clear Politics, a political website.

Kansas Republicans and Democats will caucus Saturday, March 5. Each party’s convention delegates will be awarded on that day on a proportional basis.

The Republican results in Kansas aren’t a surprise, but they do reflect the voters’ apparent rejection of the state’s GOP leadership. Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo have all endorsed Rubio, while U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp is a Cruz endorser.

No major political figure in Kansas has endorsed Trump.

Yet other surveys and developments Friday boosted the boisterous GOP front-runner. Gov. Chris Christie, who ran for the nomination unsuccessfully, endorsed Trump. And a new national poll by Rasmussen Reports showed four out of five likely Republican voters now think Trump will be their party’s nominee.

Kathleen Sebelius, a former Kansas governor and Cabinet official for President Barack Obama, has endorsed Clinton. The Clinton campaign has opened several offices in Kansas and is organizing supporters for the caucuses.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at KC's Bartle Hall

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made a stop to speak to supporters gathered in Bartle Hall on Wednesday.

Shane Keyser skeyser@kcstar.com

Sanders recently spoke in Kansas City, Mo., urging his Kansas supporters to caucus on his behalf.

The Fort Hays State University poll surveyed 440 voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent, with 95 percent confidence. The poll was conducted by the Docking Institute on behalf of itself and several news media outlets in Kansas, including The Kansas City Star.

Dave Helling: 816-234-4656, @dhellingkc