Takeaways from Kansas’s 2018 election results

By

Opinion

November 30, 2018 - 9:55 PM

Democrats had a lot at stake this year.   They won a qualified victory, and they owe it all to new voters.  Sharice Davids captured the KC-area, 3rd Congressional District from incumbent Kevin Yoder, while Laura Kelly defeated the drama-seeking Kris Kobach for the governorship.  Davids is a former White House fellow with a bold approach.  She will be Kansas’ first openly gay, and first female Native American member of Congress.  Kelly’s more subdued, all-business approach contrasts sharply with Kobach’s antics.  However, in the 2nd Congressional District, Paul Davis could not quite pull off the win against newcomer Steve Watkins.

In the state’s two largest counties, Johnson and Sedgwick, Kris Kobach received more votes this year than Sam Brownback did in 2014.  However, Democrats overwhelmed them with new voters.  These are voters who simply did not materialize back in 2014, the last midterm election. Democratic vote totals jumped by more than 50,000 in Johnson County and more than 15,000 in Sedgwick County.  In Davids’ case, she did flip about 10,000 former Yoder supporters to her side this time, but the rest of her increase over 2014 — about 30,000 — came from voters who are new to voting in midterms.

Things start to drop off as we head west. The 2nd District merges Lawrence and Topeka with several rural counties, and a majority there supported Trump in 2016.  Even so, Paul Davis got about 30,000 more votes than did 2014 Democratic nominee Margie Wakefield. Only about 4,000 of Davis’ increase came from former Republican voters.  The rest were new.  According to politico.com, with his less-than-2,000-vote deficit, Davis came closer to winning that seat than did Democrats in similar districts elsewhere, such as Kentucky, but he fell just short of the goal line.

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