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2020 survey provides insights into Kansans’ thoughts on major issues

HAYS – The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University on Monday released its annual survey report on the significant issues facing our state and nation. The survey is usually published in the fall, and Institute leaders are pleased to publish this year’s survey in advance of the 2020 election. The report offers insights into how Kansans view the quality of life in the state, taxes, funding priorities, the performance of state and national political leadership, and public policy issues. The public policy issues covered in this year’s report include who voters plan to back in this year’s presidential election, the impact of COVID-19, and the handling of the pandemic by public officials, the security of mail-in voting, the death of Justice Ginsberg, and the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Brett Zollinger, Docking Institute’s director and report co-author, believes the timing of this year’s report may be helpful to voters. 

“We hope that findings released ahead of the election are particularly interesting to Kansans now when so many of the public affairs issues covered in the survey are on Kansans’ minds as they solidify their voting intentions,” Zollinger said. 

This year’s report provides extensive insight into how Kansans perceive the current political, economic and social conditions in our state and the nation. Dr. Jian Sun, report co-author and assistant director of the institute, noticed that Kansans remain optimistic amid the coronavirus pandemic: “Although we see substantial increases as compared with last year in the percentage of respondents feeling the Kansas economy is getting worse and the percentage of respondents being concerned that the Kansas economy would seriously threaten their own or their family’s welfare, a large majority of people still believe that Kansas is at least a ‘good’ place to live, and that Kansas is on the right track.” Other key findings from the study include:

• Nearly 25% of respondents report that an adult in their household has lost a job since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

• This year, the 44% who are moderately or very concerned about the economy threatening their own or their family’s welfare is substantially higher than the 28% who felt the same way about one year ago in the 2019 Kansas Speaks survey.

• More than 70% agreed that “wearing masks/face coverings helps reduce the spread of coronavirus,” and that it is their “responsibility to protect other people from coronavirus by wearing a mask/face covering,” with less than 15% disagreeing with those statements.

• Like last year’s Kansas Speaks survey findings, more than 60% of respondents support expanding Medicaid in Kansas. 

• When asked if the November presidential election winner should name the successor to Justice Ginsburg, 42.7% of respondents said yes, 33.9% said no, and 23.5% said they don’t know. 

• President Trump leads Vice-President Biden by 14.4% among registered voters who plan to vote.  

The Kansas Speaks annual survey is a service of the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University. For more information on the 2020 Kansas Speaks Survey or the Docking Institute of Public Policy, contact FHSU Chief Communications Officer Scott Cason at 785-628-4208 or