The results are in and we know what you're thinking. At least we know what 485 Kansas adults surveyed from September 20 to October 10. Believe, as part of the annual Kansas speaks poll conducted by Fort Hays State University. This is the Kansas reflector Podcast. I'm opinion editor clay wire stone here at reflector headquarters in Topeka with reporter Tim carpenter to talk about this insight into what make camp makes Kansans tick. Hello, Tim,
good to be here with you. I'm ready to dive into this survey.
So yeah, let's let's start off what do you got?
So let's begin with the Medicaid expansion question. There are several questions here. But the bottom line would be this 69% went to expand eligibility for this health care program, primarily funded by the federal government to the working poor in Kansas, two thirds think that Kansas without health insurance deserve this benefit. And another two thirds think that improving the bottom line of hospitals will specifically help the rural hospitals in the state that are struggling financially.
You know, Tim, this is an issue that has been pushed by Governor Laura Kelly for years, it was pushed by lawmakers before Kelly came into office. It has always really enjoyed a pretty, pretty broad support from the Kansas public.
So I think specifically in the survey this year that that that is borne out. There's a there's a in terms of partisanship. So 80 per six, excuse me, 86% of Democrats want expansion 76% of independents and 55% of Republicans want expansion. So that would suggest to you that the legislature should get out of their seat and go ahead and adopt a bill. But the Republican legislative leadership in the House and Senate have largely blocked any kind of bill like this, specifically since 2017. When a bill got through the legislature and Governor Brownback vetoed it. Yeah, and
it's also important to note that that these survey findings come on top of really escalating efforts from both the Governor, Governor and her opponents to highlight this issue going into the legislative session. You know, she and her allies have done a lot of talking about Medicaid expansion in the last few weeks last month or so. And then even House Speaker Dan Hawkins and senate president Ty Masterson have talked about how damaging they think it would be.
Well, 40 states have gone ahead and done this along with the District of Columbia. So Kansas is a minority. And you're right, Governor Kelly has taken her show on the road. And she is going out to communities. And she's talking directly with people who run hospitals and medical facilities. And they are begging for expansion. For multiple reasons.
Yeah. So moving on. Thank you. So yeah, so another another issue in this that the survey asked folks about was marijuana another topic that has a lot of constituent entrance interest in Kansas, and a whopping 62 point 67.2 of respondents supported legalizing recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older to allow state taxation. And that's not even medical marijuana, mind you that 67.2% of folks supporting recreational marijuana in the state of Kansas,
Kansas would become Colorado if if you were to follow this poll, and you'd have medicinal and recreational weed, you know, 23 states have gone the recreational route. And so it's really a dividing line between states. One element of the survey that I thought was fascinating is that 48% of those people polled said they strongly want this reform. So it's not just I passively will go along with the youth of America. And because they want it, let's do it. This half of the people they polled won it now.
Well, and then what's what's I found interesting, too, is that they then asked a slightly different version of this question, which is, would you vote for someone who supported medical marijuana legalization? And it was 63.6%. So that's still a very hefty majority, actually a little bit less, though, than the people who said that they supported the legalization overall. So that's a that's a little bit curious. But
well, you could look at this issue in a similar way of Medicaid expansion. I think it's pretty clear that a majority of Kansans want to do both of these things, but you have elected political leadership that disagree. So elections have consequences.
Well, and I also think these are these are all questions where, you know, frankly, the way you ask them the way you set them up, you know, does have an effect on how those results come out. So moving on, Tim
Yeah, next subject that they touched on in the survey was abortion. And that's very, very controversial issue in Kansas as it is other states. And two thirds of the people surveyed concluded that women were in a better position than politicians to make decisions about their personal health and well being big surprise there. So for some reason, 12% of the people thought that politicians had a better idea of how some woman should go about her health care,
I think that goes into the thought that there's always going to be 10 or 15% of people in any poll who will basically vote for any option.
So half of the people indicated they weren't really enthusiastic about government regulating abortion in Kansas at all, which I think that would cause some concern among people that want to make sure these facilities follow proper medical procedures. I think that two thirds indicated that they would not contact authorities. If say, Kansas banned abortion, two thirds would not contact authorities, if they theorized that say one of their neighbors had had an abortion. And so if Kansas follows all these other states that do go ahead and try to ban abortion, which could have constitutional issues, I understand. But if they were to try to do something like that, I don't actually see how a ban could ever work, if two thirds of the people out there aren't going to rat out their neighbors.
Well, I think this really just underscores what we've known since August of 2022, which is that there is a substantial and durable majority of Kansans, who support abortion rights. And more importantly, they don't necessarily they don't support them in terms of like, oh, this is one party or another party that I like they support them as just basic human rights. And the fact that, you know, as you say, so many folks are willing to stay say, say outright, oh, I would be willing to break a law to protect people's right to an abortion. I mean, that says a lot.
And I think the the movement to block abortions in Kansas, suffered a resounding defeat in that constitutional amendment, and went down. And I think it had real political connotations to it in the aftermath. And I really do not see how Kansas politicians who are our prolife are going to proceed with any kind of substantive legislation because they are looking at a Kansas Supreme Court decision that says that women have a constitutional right to make decisions about their reproductive health.
Well, and I think one of the other thing, though, Tim, that those results suggest is that, you know, everyone loves a winner sometimes. And I think for people that might have been a little bit on the fence or a little bit wishy washy, seeing the amount of support that there was for abortion rights, they are more than more than happy to now be supporters of abortion rights as well. You know, I think it can be I think it's actually self reinforcing in Kansas. So, you know, it's, it's, it's actually almost become stronger, perhaps over the last year than it was during the vote. So yeah, so moving on here. One of the things that interested me about this year's Kansas speaks survey was that they had a number of questions about climate change. And what's fascinating to me about these questions, and there's like six or seven of them, so I can't read them, each of them individually. But they really suggest that Kansans, they basically believe, a majority of Kansas, they basically believe that climate change is real, that it's happening. But they're a little unpersuaded about whether or not it's affecting their lives right now. So in other words, 56.9% of respondents think climate change is a crisis or a major problem in Kansas, as opposed to 32% who feel it's a minor problem, or no problem at all. Even a very similar number 57.8% believe that addressing climate change should be given priority, even if the economy suffers, which was really surprising to me. And yet, when they when people asked if they thought that climate change was possibly also, you know, threatening their job or the places they worked, 33% of respondents said a great deal or somewhat, but 44% said not very much or not at all. So while they are convinced this is a problem and are actually willing to, you know, face some consequences for it, they're actually not convinced that they're seeing it in their in their day to day lives.
Well, who wants to be Cuttack connected to an environmental catastrophe? You know, how in the world would my job as a journalist impact that? Well, I use energy III and I am a big consumer of things. And so I have a role just as any other citizen does. So, you know, I think I think the big problem here is that people recognize increasingly there's a problem with climate change. And, you know, the weird weather and, you know, the the reality that cropping patterns are going to have to change even in Kansas. I do, there's huge resistance to that. And I'm a little surprised by the people who are willing to make change despite economic impacts, because that is the big fear.
But again, I think it's because it's being presented and perhaps a little bit of an abstract way on the survey. My question would be, if you actually have the real trade offs coming in, you know, you can't drive, let's say, or you have to buy an electric cars or some sort of other tangible day to day effects. I'd be curious to see what those numbers so
I think the objections have go way up. Sure. The other side of the coin would be that many, many politicians are beholden to the traditional energy sources of oil, or gas, coal. And you know, there's a lot of political money there. And so if you want to just stomp on your big political donors than your PAC contributors, you just go right ahead and carry through with your concerns about climate change.
Well, and and what's interesting is that you can see a little bit of skepticism and the answers to one of these questions, which were basically who could have a big effect to limit climate change. And only 35% of the people surveyed thought that the federal government or business corporations could have a big, big effect. And then only 25% thought that individuals or community community organizations could have a large effect, which leads to the question of, well, who else does
anyway? They're just basically kind of throwing up their hands. And they're concerned that nobody has a grip on this. Right? Not in this country. Right?
Or not in this state. So on to the next, yeah,
we have elections. There's a bunch of stuff in here about elections and the handling of elections and whether you believe things are fair and not, you know, the, the core idea is that 54% of the respondents believe that they're confident that the winners reported on election night were the people who actually won. Now, I'm a little surprised. I mean, I think that number could be way higher. Because, you know, my experience is that elections are run fairly, the numbers are pretty accurate. There is, you know, human frailties, and every now and then you get a number that's, that's wonky. But I think the all the election fraud claims that you see bubbling around Kansas don't make much sense. There's been legislative efforts to get at various ways in which people find it easier to vote, and in this poll suggest that the people are pushing back against some of that. There's a big, big effort to get rid of drop ballot drop boxes, where you can just drive by and throw your ballot in a in a metal container and keep going while 41% of the people polled want to keep those 29% Don't. So a majority want dropped ballot drop boxes. You go on to mail balloting. 47% of people want it 30. Don't another big win for mail balloting. And then advanced voting the most the easiest way to vote is 49%. What that an 18%. Don't. So this suggests that legislative changes that try to get it election fraud in these areas just might be a waste of time and could irritate voters.
Oh, sure. And but even though you do have more people saying that they support these things than not, to me the issue with those results is there's it's not over 50%. And I think to an extent with some of the election deniers, they're perhaps not seeing success in getting people to their side. But they're perhaps seeing some success in eroding overall levels of trust and support, you know, because one of the things I wonder about is how much have people really thought about local elections or about local election counting before the last few years? And then if all of that attention is negative, what kind of effect is that having?
I think I think the numbers who think there's gross amounts of frauds are pretty low. And this poll would bear that out. 12% thought that state and local officials in Kansas had committed election fraud 12% I don't know what their evidence is. I don't think they have it. Here's another good one. 17% thought that illegal immigrants are voting in Kansas elections in large numbers, also a hysterically bizarre number. Because if you were here in the country illegally and you're operating in the black market, and you're trying to hide from government, do you think the one time you'd stick your head out of the foxhole would be to go vote?
Well and and present an idea as well when you're going to go into I just think it's silly. Yeah, but I Get I just think this is it's it's positive in the one sense that you clearly see that there's not a majority of people who believe demonstrably false things. But, you know, I would love to see just from my opinion editor position, I'd love to see majorities as healthy as those, you know, supporting abortion rights, supporting, you know, the, you know, the free and fair elections and easier access to the ballot. And it's just not, it's just not quite there.
If we're not getting elections, right, we're failing as a state. And this is really important. And passing a bunch of bills and deter people from voting is a bad idea, because you're going to push people to the margins to the right and left and you're going to lose the center where the most of the gravity should be in terms of politics.
And speaking of an issue, where I'm sure that there's so many people on the center here, they asked a couple of questions about firearms. So what was most interesting about the questions of firearms were they didn't actually ask many questions about do you believe there should be, you know, gun control laws or whatnot. Instead, they asked Kansans overall, what did you What do you think the purpose of having a firearm in the home should be? What how would you how would you defend it? Or what would you say your reason was for having a firearm 42% of respondents said for protection, 42% said, because of the Second Amendment, which actually doesn't strike me as much of a reason. And 35% said, for for hunting. And then the second question that was was interesting was they actually tried to get a sense of what percentage of Kansans owned a firearm or had a firearm in their home? And fewer than 40% of Kansans in the survey answered, Yes, so 39.6% of respondents said they had a gun or rifle. So, you know, for as much as folks talk about firearms, that's, frankly, kind of a surprisingly small number.
You know, the gun thing is a political rally. It's a thing to rally around the flag about, and you know, it is embedded in state and federal constitutions and that people can have a right to bear arms. And that's going to be the way it is forever. And then I don't see why people are so have so much consternation about this issue, it's not going to change.
Well, it's certainly at this point, it's it's become so aggressively, you know, gridlocked, that I think, even small proposals from folks who want some sort of gun control, those are often seen, as, you know, just shockingly overbroad by folks who support gun rights. And, you know, there's just there's just no trust at all on either either side of a debate like this.
No, I argue that the Constitution not going to change. But if there was an issue that, that I think people could perhaps someday rally around in terms of modifying the Constitution would be to explain better what the right to bear arms and a militia and all that means, because at some point, there's got to be a tipping point the the massacres in Maine, or, or in Las Vegas, it's just too easy, too easy to get an AR 15 style weapon, and go kill massive numbers of people and maimed dozens more, it can occur in 10 minutes. But you know, the political people just say we're gonna pray for for the dead and injured. But that doesn't change the balance. And I know it touches upon so many threads on mental health, and then personal rights in the thing. But I think the country is going to struggle with this for a long, long time. And it's just a humongous tragedy.
Well, and it's one of those things where it really puts our size as a country into into the spotlight, right? We're 330 million people. So even if you do have some of these horrible massacres and stuff, you know, 99.9% of people are not going to experience that, which can make it very easy for some folks to say, well, this isn't a problem. This isn't something I want to deal with.
Before we wrap up, I did want to touch on one more subject area, and that would be kind of the personalities that we have in Kansas politics, because I did get some of the favorable and unfavorable ratings of the people that are that are most well known in Kansas politics. Laura Kelly has a 38% favorable rating and unfavorable is 33%, which doesn't sound great, but it's actually pretty darn good, compared to US Senator Jerry Moran, and US Senator Roger Marshall, who were both in the low 20s In terms of favourability and, you know, they're they're unfavorable lately is higher. So they're both underwater. And Joe Biden, poor Joe Biden. He was not immensely popular in Kansas. But his unfavorable rating is getting worse. And it's now at 62%. So
well, and as I was was pointing out to you before the show, Biden actually did better in the 2020 election in Kansas than any Democratic presidential candidate had. Since do caucus back in 1919 88.
I wanted to kind of touch on one other element of this. And I think that primary elections really have consequences here. And you can see this in a poll like this, we have a poll here, that through the eyes of 500, people purport to give us some indication of what Kansans are thinking. And they view Miranda and Marshall in a generally negative light. But both of those guys won their elections handily. They were they were easily elected to the United States Senate very important jobs, and by solid margins. And I think that's a distinction between a statewide poll and a primary and then general election, when in which only heavily invested people go vote. And so you have a narrowing here of opinion. Basically, I think a third of the people polled didn't vote in the August, abortion amendment race. So maybe a third of these people polled are generally not voters. And so So you have these guys that get elected in primaries in which people drive to the edges of conservatism or liberalism. And those outcomes of elections may not clearly represent the real breadth of views in the state of Kansas. And I think, when I see these numbers, that that's what comes to mind.
Well, you have a state in which at least for general elections, many Kansans have just gotten used to for generations, they they vote for the Republican candidate, that's just the way it is. But that also means that, as you say, Whoever selected in August and that primary, that's who the Republican candidate is, and depending on who turns out for that primary, you can have situations like we now have in the state house and the in the House of Representatives in the Senate, where, you know, routinely majorities of people are voting against what polling shows that most Kansans want. Maybe we
need open primaries, maybe we need rank choice voting. We need to stop perhaps passing laws deter people from participating, and people just gotta get off the couch and go vote in primaries. I know it doesn't sound very interesting to people, but that's when you're selecting the nominees that are being put forward by the two parties.
Indeed, well, thanks for coming by Tim, we appreciate