Survey of Kansas on Medicaid, Guns, New Governor

Kansas Speaks Fall 2019, a survey on issues of importance and on the attitudes of Kansans about their state, was released today by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University.

Kansas Speaks is the only regular survey of Kansans on issues and opinions.

Among the questions presented to respondents was the performance of Gov. Laura Kelly, who is finishing up her first year in the governor’s mansion.

“This was the first rating of Gov. Laura Kelly in a Kansas Speaks survey,” said Dr. Brett Zollinger, Docking director and a professor of sociology at Fort Hays State.

“More than half are satisfied with the Governor’s overall performance, the highest satisfaction among the political figures and institutions rated,” he said.

Specifically, 52.7 percent of respondents to the survey are satisfied so far with Gov. Kelly, and 26.4 percent are dissatisfied. On President Donald Trump, 44.1 percent are satisfied, and 44.3 percent are dissatisfied.

The 2019 survey, conducted by Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs and released today, interviewed 352 Kansans by phone (land line and cell). The survey has a 5.2-percent margin of error.

The Docking’s staff and team of Policy Fellows from across the state developed 24 questions in four areas: overall quality of life in Kansas; taxes and the economy; government and politicians; and public policy issues. The series began in 2009.

One hot-button issue covered in this year’s survey was Medicaid expansion. The survey found wide support in Kansas.

“Almost two-thirds – 62 percent – of Kansans support Medicaid expansion,” said Dr. Jian Sun, a professor of political science at FHSU and the Docking’s assistant director. Fifteen percent of survey respondents were neutral on the issue, and 23 percent did not support expansion.

Other questions on Medicaid covered perceived benefits of expansion.

“Over 60 percent agree that Medicaid expansion would help rural Kansas hospitals and agree that those who might obtain health insurance from the expansion deserve this benefit,” said Sun. “Clearly this issue is on the minds of Kansans, as only 22 percent give Medicaid expansion no thought at all as a current political issue.”

Gun control and prisons were among the policy issues addressed.

One question sought respondents’ sentiment on seven gun control issues: Background checks; an assault weapon ban; a ban on high-capacity magazines; preventing sales of firearms to people “who have been reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental health provider”; an age requirement of 21 or older to purchase guns; preventing firearms sales to people convicted of violent misdemeanors; and a mandatory three-day waiting period.

“Over half of Kansans support each,” said Dr. Patrick Miller, a Docking Policy Fellow, “with support on these items ranging from 52 percent in support of banning assault-style weapons to 88 percent in support of requiring background checks on all gun sales.”

Miller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Kansas.

One question also asked respondents to rate the frontrunners in the presidential primary for the Democratic Party.

“Bernie Sanders has the highest positive and highest negative ratings of any Democratic candidate,” said Dr. Michael Smith, Policy Fellow and a professor of political science at Emporia State University.

“This likely reflects the fact that voters are already familiar with him, since he ran in 2016,” said Smith. “Pete Buttigieg has the lowest positive and negative, both likely reflecting that many voters are still not very familiar with him. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren fall somewhere in between.”

Two perennial questions on the survey sought the respondents’ attitudes toward Kansas as a place to live and on whether the state is on the right or wrong track.

In 2019, the results are 53.7 who see the state as a “very good” or “excellent” place to live, and only 1.5 percent who found that the state is a “poor” or “very poor” place to live.

The right-track-wrong-track ratio is 77.4 percent right, 22.6 percent wrong.

The full report can be found at