Trump's Kobach endorsement could cost the GOP a governor's race in red Kansas

President Donald Trump endorsed Kris Kobach ahead of Tuesday's Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary. The ...

Posted: Aug 7, 2018 8:04 AM
Updated: Aug 7, 2018 8:04 AM

President Donald Trump endorsed Kris Kobach ahead of Tuesday's Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary. The endorsement doesn't come as a surprise, but should Kobach win, it could cost the Republican Party a governor's seat in deep red Kansas.

Why?

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To start, Kobach, who is Kansas' secretary of state, is mired in controversy.

He served as vice chairman of Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was set up after the President repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud occurred in the 2016 election. The group's supposed aim was to investigate voter fraud, but it never presented any evidence to support the President's claims. It was eventually shutdown.

Last week, a former member of the panel, Maine's Democratic secretary of state Matthew Dunlap, wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kobach saying he had "reviewed the Commission documents made available to me and they do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud."

ProPublica and the Kansas City Star have also reported that Kobach sold himself as an attorney who would write laws aimed at combating illegal immigration for towns and defended them in court for a substantial fee. Many of those of municipalities lost in court, but Kobach made off with a lot of money, according to the reports. Kobach has disputed some of the characterizations in the article.

Now, Kobach is running for governor of Kansas. Oddly enough, Democrats are welcoming this news and hoping Kobach defeats current Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer in Tuesday's primary. Polls give Kobach a slight edge.

Why would Democrats be rooting for Kobach? He's uniquely positioned to allow a Democrat to win the general election in November.

General election polling has been limited in the Sunflower state. The one poll that has been published, however, shows Kobach down by a point to potential Democratic nominee Laura Kelly. (Colyer was ahead of her by 10 points in the same poll.) The survey was conducted by Remington Research Group (a GOP aligned group) and does not meet CNN's standards because it didn't use live interviewers for all of its respondents.

The idea Kobach is in trouble in a general election is backed up by other data-points. Kobach is one of the least popular politicians in Kansas. A spring 2018 poll from Fort Hays State University, which only used live interviewers, found that Kobach had a net favorability rating of -17 percentage points. Colyer, on the other hand, broke far closer to an even score. Indeed, no one else in the poll besides Kobach was anywhere close to such a negative score.

It's important to note that Kansas is a very Republican state on the federal level. It voted for Trump by over 20 points. It last elected a Democrat to the Senate in 1932.

Trump though isn't so popular in Kansas right now. Gallup's polling over 2017 showed him with an approval rating under 50%.

Additionally, Democrats have much more success in non-federal statewide elections in Kansas.

The state has a history of electing Democratic governors. Kathleen Sebelius won two terms as governor in the 2000s. Joan Finney won a term in the 1990s before that. John Carlin served two-terms in the 1970s and 1980s.

Just four years ago, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback was barely reelected. He won by only 4 percentage points in a year in which Republicans romped nationwide. Brownback suffered at the ballot box because of an aggressive tax plan that ended up draining the state's coffers.

Brownback's budget policies made him one of the least popular governors in the nation by the time he left office to take a job in the Trump administration. Kobach wants to restore that tax plan, which was repealed by the Republican-run state legislature over Brownback's veto.

In this way, Kobach is setting the table for what has typically been the playbook for Democratic success in Kansas. There are in essence three political parties in the state. There's a conservative Republican Party (of which Kobach is part of), a more moderate Republican Party and a Democratic Party. Democrats can win statewide when Republicans nominate conservatives, which allows the Democratic nominee to take off a chunk of the moderate Republicans (It's how Sebelius won a first term in 2002).

Democrats, though, are in a way facing their own division: the candidacy of independent Greg Orman. He could take votes away from whomever wins the Democratic nomination.

Political watchers may recognize Orman from his bid for the US Senate in 2014. In that campaign, he got Democrat Chad Taylor to drop out of the race. That seems far less likely to occur this time around.

Despite far higher name recognition than Kelly, Orman barely broke double-digits in the Remington poll.

Of course, we're getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. First, we need to see if Kobach actually wins the nomination on Tuesday.

If he does, it's likely that Kansas will be home to one of the most competitive gubernatorial elections this fall.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 593622

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1228171731
Ramsey51446875
Dakota45976452
Anoka41782439
Washington26948283
Stearns22266222
St. Louis17787304
Scott17296124
Wright16082140
Olmsted1325598
Sherburne1173087
Carver1050745
Clay816392
Rice8063107
Blue Earth751541
Crow Wing666290
Kandiyohi656283
Chisago601351
Otter Tail575478
Benton571697
Goodhue478572
Douglas468575
Mower466232
Winona455050
Itasca439156
McLeod424559
Isanti422464
Morrison419660
Nobles408048
Beltrami397059
Steele388715
Polk384868
Becker380953
Lyon361051
Carlton345654
Freeborn342029
Pine329022
Nicollet326243
Brown305440
Mille Lacs305053
Le Sueur292423
Todd282432
Cass273428
Meeker256640
Waseca236322
Martin230732
Roseau209419
Wabasha20613
Hubbard190041
Dodge18513
Renville180343
Redwood174337
Houston171916
Cottonwood165823
Fillmore156510
Wadena155922
Pennington153719
Faribault152419
Chippewa152338
Kanabec144726
Sibley143810
Aitkin135036
Watonwan13289
Rock128319
Jackson121812
Pipestone115926
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11056
Murray10639
Swift105618
Stevens91411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86916
Koochiching83615
Wilkin81612
Lake81120
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5788
Mahnomen5539
Norman5399
Unassigned49293
Kittson48622
Red Lake3977
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367236

Reported Deaths: 5940
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57666626
Linn20892335
Scott20060241
Black Hawk15824308
Woodbury15138228
Johnson1449183
Dubuque13380208
Dallas1118398
Pottawattamie11132168
Story1062348
Warren577988
Clinton555893
Cerro Gordo540689
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481399
Des Moines458066
Wapello4303122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419372
Plymouth401280
Lee376055
Marion362875
Jones299057
Henry291937
Carroll285752
Bremer284860
Crawford266240
Boone265034
Benton256655
Washington254050
Dickinson248543
Mahaska230451
Jackson222142
Clay215725
Kossuth215564
Tama209871
Delaware209741
Winneshiek196835
Page192722
Buchanan191432
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184737
Hamilton180049
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler165034
Madison162519
Mills162422
Floyd161142
Cherokee158938
Lyon158241
Poweshiek154934
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148434
Winnebago142531
Cass138654
Calhoun138513
Grundy136333
Emmet134240
Jefferson132435
Shelby131137
Sac130419
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose128049
Mitchell126442
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120721
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100224
Unassigned9710
Keokuk96031
Monroe95329
Ida90435
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Ringgold55824
Van Buren55818
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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