'Push Poll' Shows Kansas Senate Race is Tied

'Push Poll' Shows Kansas Senate Race is Tied

A poll conducted by Survey USA for Wichita, Kansas television station KSN released Monday shows incumbent Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and independent challenger Greg Orman are virtually tied, but the questions that produced the result are fairly suggestive.

The poll, conducted of 555 likely voters between September 4 and September 7, gives Orman 37% of the vote and Roberts 36% of the vote. With a margin of error of 4.2%, this means the race is a dead heat.

Before asking voters who they support, the poll asked two questions about the ongoing candidate eligibility saga happening in Kansas. 

Last week, the Democratic nominee, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, wrote a letter to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican up for re-election, stating that he wished to withdraw from the race. The letter, dated September 3, was submitted on the deadline date for withdrawal.

However, Taylor did not, as Kansas law requires, declare he is incapable of performing the duties of the office, something Kobach noted in ruling to keep his name on the ballot. 

The relevant Kansas statute states, “[a]ny person who has been nominated by any means for any national, state, county or township office who declares that they are incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected may cause such person’s name to be withdrawn from nomination by a request in writing, signed by the person and acknowledged before an officer qualified to take acknowledgments of deeds.”

The Survey USA Poll asked respondents:

1. Are you aware that Chad Taylor, who is the Democrat running for the United States Senate, has asked to have his name taken off the ballot?

2. Are you aware that the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, who is a Republican, has refused to take Taylor’s name off the ballot?

3. If there were an election for US Senate today, and Democrat Chad Taylor’s name still appeared on the ballot even though he no longer wants to run, and the other names on the ballot were Republican Pat Roberts, Independent Greg Orman, and Libertarian Randall Batson, who would you vote for?

That Kobach, “who is Republican,” “refused” to take the name off the ballot is one way of looking at it, but another might be that he was following the law. It’s hard to say how big of an impact the wording of the poll had on the outcome, but the language is fairly suggestive. And since not all voters on election day will have been harangued by a pollster about Taylor’s name appearing “even though he no longer wants to run,” it’s unlikely to mirror election-day results. 

The poll found Taylor received 10% of the vote. Libertarian candidate Randall Batson received 6%.

Taylor won the August 5 Democratic primary by a 53% to 47% margin. Roberts won the Republican primary on the same day, defeating Tea Party-endorsed radiologist Milton Wolf 48% to 41%.

In his one-sentence letter to Secretary of State Kobach, dated September 3, Taylor wrote “I, Chadwick J. Taylor, Democratic nominee for the United States Senate race, do hereby withdraw my nomination for election immediately and request my name be withdrawn from the ballot, pursuant to KSA 25-306b(b).”

After Secretary of State Kobach determined that Taylor’s letter did not meet the requirement that he declare he was incapable of performing the duties of a U.S. Senator, Taylor vowed to challenge the decision in court. To date, however, no such challenge has been filed, and it is unclear how successful such a challenge might be.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) confirmed last week that she met with Taylor before he sent his request to withdraw from the race to Secretary of State Kobach and urged him to drop out. Though Taylor won the Democratic primary, Washington insiders consider Orman, a former Democrat, and former Republican, capable of self-funding his independent challenge to have a much better chance of defeating Roberts.

Orman is a former McKinsey consultant who is currently a managing director of Denali Partners, a private equity investment firm.

Roberts has been weakened by repeatedly stumbling on whether he is a resident of Kansas. Wolf, his Republican primary challenger, sought to disqualify Roberts from the race on the grounds that he was a resident of Virginia, not Kansas.


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