White men, conservatives and other core Republican voter groups helped Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts win re-election despite spirited opposition, an exit poll of Kansas voters found Tuesday. Here are findings from the survey taken for The Associated Press and television networks:
GENDER POLITICS: The only gender gap favored Brownback and Roberts, both of whom built solid majorities among male voters. Women were divided about equally between Brownback and Democratic challenger Paul Davis – and between Roberts and independent businessman Greg Orman.
JUST POPULAR ENOUGH: Roberts won even though his support among numerous voter categories was lower than in 2008, when he won his second term. His backing was down 8 percentage points among men, 7 points among whites, 13 percent among political independents and 7 points among voters with incomes of $100,000 or higher. His support among white evangelical “born again” Christians was down 6 points.
BROWNBACK STRENGTHS: Brownback drew support from voters without college degrees, white evangelicals, the nearly three in four voters who feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction and those with incomes above $100,000.
DAVIS STRENGTHS: Davis prevailed among college graduates, voters with annual incomes below $30,000, those who feel the nation is on the right track and those are unmarried.
AGE GAP: Orman was popular with younger voters, especially those ages 18-29, who favored him by 57 percent to 39 percent. Voters over age 50 backed Roberts, who ran especially strongly with those over 65.
ROBERTS STRENGTHS: Roberts did well among voters without a college degree, those with annual incomes of $100,000 or more, those who believe the federal government should do less and opponents of same-sex marriage.
ORMAN STRENGTHS: Orman was popular with self-described political moderates, voters not worried about the nation’s economy, those approving of President Barack Obama’s job performance and those favoring legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
ON THE ISSUES: Nearly half the voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the nation, and a small majority of them supported Orman, as did most of those who chose health care. But Roberts drew strong backing from those considering illegal immigration or foreign policy most important.
About half the state’s voters believed the 2010 federal health care law went too far, and they strongly supported Roberts. The rest said it didn’t go far enough or was about right. They went heavily for Orman.
SENSE OF PLACE: Orman’s strongest support came from cities with populations over 50,000, while Roberts won by nearly 2-to-1 in small towns and rural areas while narrowly carrying the suburbs. The situation was much the same in the race for governor, with Brownback leading in small towns and rural areas and Davis ahead in larger cities, although the suburbs were about evenly divided.
SOUR MOOD: About two-thirds of Kansas voters disapproved of President Barack Obama’s performance, and most of those sided with Roberts. But Republican leaders in Congress fared no better, and most voters dissatisfied with them backed Orman. Nearly three in four voters felt the nation was headed down the wrong track, and 83 percent were worried about the direction of the nation’s economy in the next year.
TAX CUTS: By a 53-to-40 percent margin, voters said tax cuts that Brownback pushed had mostly hurt Kansas.
PERCEIVED WEAKNESSES: A small majority said Orman’s businesses made them concerned about his overall honesty, while about 62 percent said Roberts had spent too much time away from Kansas to represent the state effectively.
The preliminary exit poll of 2,022 Kansas voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 25 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 287 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.