TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — Incumbent Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has a 3% lead against Republican candidate Derek Schmidt

In our latest KSN News/Emerson College/The Hill poll, Kelly has 46% of the support for re-election. Schmidt has 43%. Independent candidate Dennis Pyle is getting about 5% of the vote, and 4% of voters are still undecided.

“I think it’s kind of locked in, and we’ll see which side can get out their vote,” Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball said about the gubernatorial race. 

“If you look at the political environment, what’s interesting is she’s competing in a Republican state as a Democrat, and if she was to actually win the race, I think it would be a gold star for the Democratic party considering what they’re looking at in other parts of the country.” 

Fifty-two percent of undecided are learning toward Kelly, while 22% are learning toward Schmidt.

Kelly has branded herself as a moderate candidate, literally filming a campaign ad in the middle of a road in April.

Meanwhile, Pyle is playing an interesting role in Kansas’ gubernatorial race. Pyle left the Republican party in June to run as an Independent candidate. Kimball said the 5% he’s garnering is the difference in the race.

“The conventional wisdom would be if you’ve got a Republican third party and that candidate stays in, that should help the Democrat,” Kimball said.

“If that candidate was to leave, their vote would ideologically fall more with the Republican per se. But in the state of Kansas, Kelly’s been able to stake out that moderate position and these voters clearly have some trepidation for going with Schmidt, and that might be enough for them to switch over to Kelly.”

In the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran leads his Democratic challenger Mark Holland 54% to 33%.

The race for attorney general may be even closer than the race for governor. Democrat Chris Mann leads Republican Kris Kobach 44% to 43%, but 11% of voters are still undecided in that race.

Kimball said there are likely factions within the Republican party. It’s why Moran is up by so much, but Kobach is in a much more competitive race.

The KSN News/Emerson College/The Hill poll was conducted last Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 27-29. The sample consisted of 1,000 very likely voters. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. Based in Boston, Emerson has a strong reputation for nonpartisan polling. Emerson claims a 93% accuracy rate following 54 polls across the country in the 2018 Midterm elections.

Derek Schmidt’s campaign released a statement on the poll:

Despite the millions of dollars Democrats have spent on dark-money lies about Derek Schmidt and dishonest tactics to prop up a third-party spoiler, and despite the media’s determination to suppress the Republican vote with inaccurate polling like this, Kansans won’t fall for it and will elect Derek Schmidt governor on Nov. 8.”

CJ Grover
Campaign Manager
Schmidt for Kansas

Kelly’s campaign also released a statement:

Governor Kelly’s strong favorability and significant cross-party support is just more proof that her steady leadership and record of bipartisan results is resonating with Kansans – no matter their political party. She’s gotten Kansas back on track by working with both parties to balance the budget, fully fund schools, cut $1 billion in taxes and bring in over $14 billion in new business investment to the state. Kansans knows that Governor Kelly is focused on doing what is best for Kansas, while Derek Schmidt hides from his record and threatens to bring Kansas back to the failures of Sam Brownback.”

Madison Andrus
Campaign Spokesperson
Laura Kelly for Kansas