Friday, June 02, 2006

Polling the issues

KWCH and the Eagle commissioned a big poll on the issues before Kansas.

As Diane points out, the big item is the 72% support for candidates who back teaching "alternatives to evolution." Not that they exist, but still. The divide we've observed elsewhere between men and women persists (68% of men favor the "alternatives" while 76% of women do). Republicans are also distinctly different from Indycrats, with 76% of Republicans backing "alternatives" and 65% of Dems and 68% of Inds behind them. This type of question does more to reveal the public's lack of understanding of the state of science. If scientific alternatives to evolution existed, you'd hope that 100% of everyone would back teaching them.

Support for abstinence-only education does not fare as well. Sex ed which "supports safe sex" gets the backing of 65%, 74% support among Dems and Inds. Abstinence only gets 42% among Republicans but only 23% among the other two, making it a powerful wedge to use against Republicans. The split is even starker between conservatives (58% back abstinence-only) and moderates/liberals (19% back abstinence).

Given a choice between funding education by consolidating schools, increasing taxes, cutting funding, or "other", the latter won handily. Democrats were the group which most favored cutting funding, but also most likely to back higher taxes. A majority of Independents backed "other" and Republicans were the group which most favored consolidation, though they also gave most of their support to "other." Interestingly, the ideological groupings (conservative, moderate, liberal) are indistinguishable from one another. "Other" still wins, and conservative have a slightly larger bias toward cutting spending, but the difference is much smaller.

Surprisingly, school consolidation was at its most popular in western Kansas, which is where it can best happen and were it can be the most harmful. Cutting funding was at its most popular in the east, where schools are generally better funded.

Discussing the Governor's race, the poll reveals that Dems and Inds both look chiefly at a candidate's stance on the economy while Republicans tend to look at moral issues, but preferences there are weak.

The 501 registered voters sampled were asked which of the following issues they thought was most important in determining their vote: abortion regulation, education funding, gambling, health care, illegal immigration, rural development, taxes and "other." Over all, education, health care and immigration topped the list, each pulling about 20%. Republicans tended to think immigration was most important (27%) while IndyCrats backed education and health care (Dems gave both issues about 27%, Indys gave them 24% and 20% respectively). The same basic trends hold for conservatives, moderates and liberals. Immigration and health care both do well in western Kansas, Wichita favors school funding, and eastern Kansas is divided evenly among the same top three. The parties were equally likely to be interested in abortion regulation, but moderates are much less likely than liberals or conservatives to make their choices on that basis.