Independent businessman and political enigma Greg Orman (46 percent) is leading three-term Republican incumbent Pat Roberts (41 percent) in the race for U.S. Senate in Kansas, with 11 percent undecided, according to the latest Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll of likely voters in the general election.

In the race for governor, Democratic state Rep. Paul Davis (46 percent) is leading incumbent Sam Brownback (42 percent), a Republican, with 6 percent undecided in the survey conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.

Republican voters in Kansas have not yet honed in on a candidate for president in 2016. While 15 percent would choose former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and 14 percent favored former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, “undecided” led them both with 17 percent. Eleven other candidates in the survey were in the single digits. However, adding Mitt Romney to the mix changed the scenario, with the 2012 Republican nominee the choice of 33 percent of voters, Bush and Huckabee tied at 11 percent, and the undecided share reduced to 9 percent.

On the Democratic side, 62 percent favored Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 14 percent, and Vice President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tied at 4 percent.

No Democrat in Senate race

“Orman has gained from Democratic nominee Chad Taylor’s dropping out of the race in September, and now he’s presenting a solid challenge to longtime Senator Pat Roberts,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Orman has dabbled in both Republican and Democratic politics over the years and says he will be a moderate in the tradition of Kansan Bob Dole, so it will be interesting to see whether this fresh face will prevail in the state that was the subject of a book examining How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.”

While 39 percent of voters view both Orman and Roberts favorably, 47 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Roberts, compared to 25 percent on the negative side for Orman. The difference lies in the 14 percent who never heard of Orman.

Statewide races

In a close race for secretary of state, Republican Kris Kobach (45 percent), the incumbent, was ahead of Democrat and former state Sen. Jean Kurtis Schodorf (40 percent), with 14 percent undecided.

In his bid for reelection, Attorney General Derek Schmidt (45 percent), a Republican, had a significant lead over Democrat AJ Kotich (25 percent), but 29 percent of voters remained undecided.

State & national concerns

Fifty-two percent of voters favor an amendment to the Kansas constitution that would allow the legislature to authorize charitable raffles, while 31 percent are opposed.

Kansas voters showed a dim view of their state and national legislatures, with 43 percent looking unfavorably on the Kansas State Legislature and 33 percent seeing it in a positive light. Meanwhile, 73 percent had an unfavorable view of Congress, with 14 percent favorable.

Voters said that health care (18 percent) would be their major concern as they cast their votes for Congress this year, followed by foreign policy/terrorism (16 percent), jobs (16 percent) and the federal budget deficit (15 percent).

Kansans are divided in terms of support for putting U.S. combat troops on the ground in Iraq, with 44 percent supporting the concept, 40 percent opposed and 16 percent undecided.


The Suffolk University/USA TODAY survey was conducted via landline and cell phone. All respondents indicated that they were very or somewhat likely to vote in the Nov. 4 election. The field of 500 likely general-election voters was conducted Saturday, Sept. 27, through Tuesday, Sept. 30. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.