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 RobertsThe Hill's Morning Report - Intel panel readies to hand off impeachment baton The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' The Hill's Morning Report — House set for Phase 3 of impeachment push MORE (R) with a heavy emphasis on his support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE, who won Kansas by about 20 points in 2016.

Republicans have held out hope that Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump administration imposes sanction on Saudi diplomat over Khashoggi killing Mulvaney: 'Politics can and should influence foreign policy' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today 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. MarshallMeat industry is trying to stifle plant-based food innovation Improving maternal health with data and care coordination Trump tears into impeachment probe, witnesses in early Twitter spree 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.