Poll: Kobach, Kelly virtually tied in Kansas gubernatorial race

Poll: Kobach, Kelly virtually tied in Kansas gubernatorial race
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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly are virtually tied in their closely watched gubernatorial race, according to an Emerson College poll released Monday.

About 44 percent of likely voters support Kobach, while 43 percent of those surveyed said they support Kelly. Eight percent of the respondents said they support independent candidate Greg Orman, and 4 percent remain undecided just one week away from the election.

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Kobach is known for his hard-line stance on immigration and voter fraud and served as vice chairman of the Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that was designed to investigate claims of voter fraud. The commission was disbanded in January after finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 elections.

Kobach has a net-negative favorability rating among likely Kansas voters surveyed, with 43 percent having a favorable view of him, while 46 percent have an unfavorable view. Kelly may be further buoyed by a net-positive favorability rating of her own, with 44 percent of likely voters having a favorable view of her, while 37 percent have an unfavorable view.

Former Republican Govs. Mike Hayden and Bill Graves have endorsed Kelly, expressing concern about the direction Kobach would take as governor.

"After eight years of crisis, we cannot elect someone who wants to repeat the disasters of the past,” Hayden said in a statement, according to The Kansas City Star. “Kris Kobach has promised to do just that — risking the future of our great state.”

However, Kobach has the backing of President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE.

Trump endorsed the secretary of state at the eleventh hour in the primary, which many credit for helping Kobach defeat the more mainstream incumbent, Gov. Jeff Colyer. Some Republicans feared Kobach’s extreme views would put the usually safe Republican seat in play and that Colyer had a better chance of defeating Kelly. 

“Kris Kobach, a strong and early supporter of mine, is running for Governor of the Great State of Kansas. He is a fantastic guy who loves his State and our Country — he will be a GREAT Governor and has my full & total Endorsement! Strong on Crime, Border & Military. VOTE TUESDAY!” Trump tweeted before the primary in August.

Trump won Kansas by over 20 points in 2016 and has a net positive favorability rating in the Emerson poll, with 53 percent of likely voters having a favorable view of the president, while 42 percent have an unfavorable view.

Kansas hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 2009. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss-up.” It is one of 14 Republican-held gubernatorial seats it lists as competitive for Democrats.

Emerson College surveyed 976 likely Kansas voters from Oct. 26 to 28. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.