By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World
KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- A poll one year before the 2014 gubernatorial election may not be that significant, but the SurveyUSA poll released last week that shows a close race between Democratic challenger Paul Davis and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has some interesting highlights.
Overall, the poll shows Davis, the House minority leader from Lawrence, with 43 percent of the vote to Brownback's 39 percent.
The survey has a plus or minus margin of error of 4.4 percent.
The result follows an earlier SurveyUSA poll that showed Brownback with high disapproval ratings and Davis with low name identification, so the subsequent poll showing Davis ahead may be the result of an anti-Brownback sentiment more than a pro-Davis sentiment.
Minority voters and women break toward Davis, but what I found most interesting is that in the age categories, Brownback wins 18- to 34-year-olds, 43 percent to 38 percent, but Davis wins 35- to 49-year-olds, 42 percent to 35 percent; and 50- to 64-year-olds, 50 percent to 34 percent. The two split the 65-plus vote.
Think of people in that 35- to 64-year-old range. That's responsibility time. Raising families, getting kids through school, into college, etc.
And a big chunk of the folks in that age range have been tempered by the Great Recession economy and its aftershocks. These folks, according to the poll, are supporting Davis.
The poll also asks voters what are their top issues.
When the top issue is education, Davis is far ahead of Brownback, 75 percent to 14 percent, but when the top issue is the economy, Brownback leads among those voters, 46 percent to 37 percent, and when the top issue is crime, Brownback leads again, 46 percent to 33 percent.
Probably the most positive aspect of the poll for Davis, is that among those voters who describe themselves as moderate, Davis leads 58 percent to 28 percent.
Davis and his lieutenant governor running mate, Jill Docking, must collect votes from independents and moderate Republicans to win a year from now.