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Internal poll shows Kobach trailing Democrat in Kansas Senate race

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) is 10 points behind Democrat Barry Grissom in a head-to-head contest for the state's Senate race, according to internal GOP polling data obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

The survey found that Grissom led Kobach 52 percent to 42 percent, while every other Republican tested in a head-to-head matchup had at least an 8-point lead over the Democrat.

The poll also showed a generic Republican beating a generic Democrat by a 44-36 margin. 

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Republicans have offered public worries about the possibility that Kobach could win the Republican primary and be the party's nominee in the Senate race. Kobach was the GOP candidate for governor last year and lost to Democrat Laura Kelly. 

The poll, which was conducted June 9–11 for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, found Kobach’s favorability rating underwater, with 32 percent of respondents viewing him favorably and 50 percent unfavorably. It surveyed 600 likely voters in Kansas, including 150 likely Republican primary voters, and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Some in the GOP have expressed fear that nominating Kobach, a conservative firebrand who has staked out hard-line positions on immigration and election fraud, could jeopardize their chances of keeping the must-win seat in the Republican column next year after he lost the governor’s race last year. Democrats have not won a Senate race in Kansas since 1930.

“If it’s Kobach, hell yes, that’s a major race,” a veteran GOP operative with deep ties to Kansas told The Hill earlier this year.

The Kobach campaign, however, dismissed the poll, saying it is not consistent with over surveys. 

“It's laughable that anyone is taking seriously a poll on a hypothetical match-up conducted 18 months before the election and prior even to Secretary Kobach's entry into the race. The reported favorable/unfavorable numbers are not consistent with other polls, which indicates that the sample of this June poll was not a representative sample,” Kobach campaign manager Steve Drake said in a statement to The Hill.

Kobach first announced his Senate bid in July to replace retiring Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP's campaign arm releases first ad targeting Bollier in Kansas The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden hit campaign trail in Florida National Republicans will spend to defend Kansas Senate seat MORE (R) with a heavy emphasis on his support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, who won Kansas by about 20 points in 2016.

Republicans have held out hope that Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoEntire Nigerian police force mobilized after days of violent protests that have killed at least 69 Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting US critical facilities with destructive malware MORE, who used to represent Kansas in the House, would jump into the race, though he has not indicated if he will follow the urging of GOP leaders.

"I hear all the speculation. There’s a lot of people thinking about my future a lot more than I am," he said in a local interview this month. "I spend my days focused on delivering American foreign policy around the world, every hour, every day. That’s what I’m doing. I never vary from that." 

Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallTrump holds 7-point lead over Biden in Kansas: poll Kelly raises .7 million in third quarter for Arizona Senate bid Senate GOP's campaign arm releases first ad targeting Bollier in Kansas MORE (R), former Kansas City Chiefs player Dave Lindstrom, conservative commentator Bryan Pruitt and Kansas state Senate President Susan Wagle are also running in the GOP Senate primary.

Democrats are expressing confidence in Grissom's chances. 

“Barry Grissom is the strongest Democratic candidate to run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas in a generation, and he looks forward to a General Election race against extremist Kris Kobach,” Jerid Kurtz, a Grissom campaign staffer, told the Journal.