Reflections On A Kansas Election

Jan 14, 2015

Credit vox_efx / Flickr / Creative Commons

Many Kansans expressed surprise at the November election outcomes for senator and governor.

The polls indicated that Greg Orman would likely defeat Senator Pat Roberts and that Democrat Paul Davis would likely defeat Governor Sam Brownback. The polls were wrong because it is difficult to poll individuals who live in the many rural towns scattered across Kansas.

The election outcome did not surprise me.

Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas, argues that Kansans do not vote for what is in their best interests. Frank overlooks the fact that many Kansans are highly individualistic and that they are not trusting of government intrusion into their lives. No Democrat has been elected to the Senate from Kansas since 1932. Independent Greg Orman was seen as a Democrat in “sheep’s clothing.”

Governor Brownback made significant cuts in state income taxes during his first years in office. Sitting Governors in Kansas have been defeated for raising taxes but not for lowering taxes.

Democrat Paul Davis let the Brownback campaign define him as a liberal from Lawrence, and he did not tell prospective voters what he would do about taxes to meet the state’s needs. Also, some voters had questions about his character when it was revealed that he had paid a visit to a strip club in Coffeyville.

I do not accept the argument that Governor Brownback won a second term by riding in on the “coattails” of the mobilization of voters for Senator Roberts’ campaign. The voters simply did not like Davis as the alternative to Governor Brownback.