Kansas Speaks Survey Reveals Strong Opinions

The Docking Institute of Public Affairs recently released the annual Kansas Speaks Survey of public opinion. A panel of 485 adult residents of Kansas ages 18 and older were surveyed online to assess their attitudes and opinions regarding various issues of interest to Kansas citizens. This year’s survey covered topics including quality of life, the economy, government, politicians, and election integrity, a range of public policy issues, and the state of education in Kansas.

“Kansans’ rating of Kansas economy became slightly better than 2022, with slightly more people feeling Kansas economy was very good or excellent, and slightly fewer feeling Kansas economy was getting worse,” said survey co-author Jian Sun. “However, the ratings were still lower as compared with 2021. With continuing high inflation, more Kansans felt concerned that Kansas’ economy would seriously threaten their welfare or their family’s, and the rating of Kansas as a place to live were the least positive in three years.”

Select findings from the 2023 Kansas Speaks Survey include:

  • Of those surveyed, 46.3% of the respondents believed Kansas was on the “right track,” while fewer (30%) felt Kansas was on the “wrong track” this year; this is less positive than the previous two years
  • Support for Medicaid expansion in Kansas in 2023 continues to be at about 70%
  • On the issue of Medicaid expansion in Kansas, 49% of the respondents felt the issue was highly or extremely important as they decide who gets their vote to represent them in the Kansas Legislature, compared to 8% who felt the issue was not important at all
  • Most (80%) respondents felt all education levels (high school, technical/vocational, community colleges, and universities) are important or very important to the overall economic development of Kansas
  • Housing was also a concern for Kansans, with 71.6% of the respondents saying that they were concerned about the cost of housing

“Housing is an issue not just important to a family’s quality of life but also to a community’s ability to attract and retain a workforce,” said Brett Zollinger, Docking Institute director and survey co-author. “Very similar to 2022, more than 70% of Kansans are concerned about the cost of housing in their communities again this year.”

In a question about affordable housing that was in the survey for the first time this year, strong majorities feel that a lack of affordable housing — both for purchase and for rent — is having a negative impact on their community.  Almost 70% shared that they would have difficulty finding a home to buy in their price range right now in their community.

A complete copy of the Kansas Speaks Survey and results from fall 2023, as well as previous years, can be found at https://www.fhsu.edu/docking/Kansas-Speaks/.

Two political scientists from other Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) universities collaborated with Docking Institute staff on this year’s survey, Alexandra Middlewood from Wichita State University and Michael Smith of Emporia State University.

The two policy fellows worked closely with Docking Institute researchers in establishing survey content and on methodological decisions. Smith led on survey content related to election security, diversity in representation of elected officials, perceived effects of climate change, and abortion attitudes/policy questions. Middlewood led in developing content that focused on reasons for gun ownership and political ideology questions.

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About the Docking Institute of Public Affairs

The primary mission of Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs is to facilitate effective public policy decision making among governmental and non-profit entities. The Institute’s work is centered on four primary areas of focus, including:

  • Public policy and public opinion, survey research for governmental and nonprofit entities
  • Strategic planning and consulting
  • Public affairs programming through conferences, speakers, forums, television and radio programming, newspaper columns, and scholarly publications
  • Public administration and leadership training programs

Learn more at https://www.fhsu.edu/docking/