The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University this week released its annual survey report on the significant issues facing our state and nation. The survey is usually published in the fall, and Institute leaders are pleased to publish this year’s survey in advance of the 2020 election. The report offers insights into how Kansans view the quality of life in the state, taxes, funding priorities, the performance of state and national political leadership, and public policy issues. The public policy issues covered in this year’s report include who voters plan to back in this year’s presidential election, the impact of COVID-19, and the handling of the pandemic by public officials, the security of mail-in voting, the death of Justice Ginsberg, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Brett Zollinger, Docking Institute’s director and report co-author, believes the timing of this year’s report may be helpful to voters.
“We hope that findings released ahead of the election are particularly interesting to Kansans now when so many of the public affairs issues covered in the survey are on Kansans’ minds as they solidify their voting intentions,” Zollinger said.
This year’s report provides extensive insight into how Kansans perceive the current political, economic and social conditions in our state and the nation. Dr. Jian Sun, report co-author and assistant director of the institute, noticed that Kansans remain optimistic amid the coronavirus pandemic: “Although we see substantial increases as compared with last year in the percentage of respondents feeling the Kansas economy is getting worse and the percentage of respondents being concerned that the Kansas economy would seriously threaten their own or their family’s welfare, a large majority of people still believe that Kansas is at least a ‘good’ place to live, and that Kansas is on the right track.” Other key findings from the study include:
- Nearly 25 percent of respondents report that an adult in their household has lost a job since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
- This year, the 44 percent who are moderately or very concerned about the economy threatening their own or their family’s welfare is substantially higher than the 28 percent who felt the same way about one year ago in the 2019 Kansas Speaks survey.
- More than 70 percent agreed that “wearing masks/face coverings helps reduce the spread of coronavirus,” and that it is their “responsibility to protect other people from coronavirus by wearing a mask/face covering,” with less than 15 percent disagreeing with those statements.
- Like last year’s Kansas Speaks survey findings, more than 60 percent of respondents support expanding Medicaid in Kansas.
- When asked if the November presidential election winner should name the successor to Justice Ginsburg, 42.7 percent of respondents said yes, 33.9 percent said no, and 23.5 percent said they don’t know.
- President Trump leads Vice-President Biden by 14.4 percent among registered voters who plan to vote.
The 2020 Kansas Speaks Survey is available online at
FHSU’s report authors are Dr. Jian Sun, Docking institute assistant director and professor of political science; Dr. Brett Zollinger, institute director and professor of sociology; and Luis Montelongo, institute research coordinator. Docking Institute policy fellows who collaborated on question content for this year’s Kansas Speaks Survey were Dr. Patrick Miller, associate professor of political science at the University of Kansas, and Dr. Michael Smith, professor of political science at Emporia State University. Dr. Miller contributed a major portion of the questions relating to perceptions of mail-in voting, reducing the spread of coronavirus, public confidence in the safety of our election during the pandemic, and perceived impacts of Black Lives Matter protests. Dr. Smith contributed items rating public officials’ handling of the coronavirus, as well as items rating how protests around high profile police behaviors this year have been handled by various actors involved in the protests and by political actors.
The Kansas Speaks annual survey is a service of the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University. Led by Director Dr. Brett Zollinger and Assistant Director Dr. Jian Sun, the staff and policy fellows of the Docking Institute of Public Affairs and its University Center for Survey Research are dedicated to serving the people of Kansas and surrounding states by facilitating effective public policy decision-making.