Kansas remains a great place to live, and Kansans are optimistic about the future, but they also revealed a significant amount of uncertainty in the fifth annual Kansas Speaks survey of public opinion in the state.
Overall, according to Fort Hays State University's Docking Institute of Public Affairs, Kansans who responded to the 2013 Kansas Speaks survey are feeling caught between different forces and unsure about what the future will hold. The survey also revealed some other interesting findings:
-- Wind is the clear favorite for where resources devoted to energy development should go, at least in the number of people who think it is extremely important: 45 percent; 27.7 percent favored oil, 14.4 percent coal, and 9.8 percent nuclear. For wind and oil, the numbers are closer when all the "good" categories are factored in together. For those two, a total of 92.2 percent think wind is somewhat (18.1 percent) to extremely important, while 90.1 percent think oil development is somewhat (27.6 percent) to extremely important.
-- A 46.7-percent plurality of Kansans strongly oppose allowing concealed weapons to be carried in schools, hospitals and government buildings. An additional 8.9 percent are somewhat opposed and 12.4 percent are neutral; strong support was expressed by 19.2 percent, and 12.8 percent somewhat support concealed weapons in those venues.
-- Six in ten (61 percent) respondents felt that Kansas school districts should be allowed to sue the state for failing to meet the constitutional mandate to provide adequate funding for elementary and secondary public education. In general, the younger, upper-educated, Hispanic and Democratic respondents were more likely to support school districts suing the state.
-- Less than half (44.2 percent) of respondents said that, "if the election was held today," they would vote to retain Sam Brownback for governor. Support for Gov. Brownback was higher among those respondents who were 18 to 24 years old, those whose highest education level was less than high school, those whose family incomes were below $35,000, those who did not vote in 2012, and males.
-- Among respondents who indicated they did not vote in the November 2012, 51.7 percent said they were registered and had a government-issued ID, while 38.6 percent were not registered but had the proof of citizenship needed for registration. The remaining 9.6 percent of respondents who did not vote said they either did not have a proof of citizenship or did not have a photo ID, making them ineligible to participate in the 2012 election.
Fort Hays State University's Docking Institute of Public Affairs has conducted the survey since 2009. For this year, 1,459 Kansas residents were contacted from May 23 to Sept. 18, and 944 completed the survey. Dr. Jian Sun, senior research scientist at the Docking Institute, said the 64.7-percent response rate computes to a 3.2-percent margin of error.
The full survey report is available through the Kansas Speaks link on the Docking Institute homepage at www.fhsu.edu/docking.
Dr. Gary Brinker has been the director of the Docking Institute and an associate professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Fort Hays State University since August 2008. He was previously the director of the Center for Social Sciences and Public Policy Research at Missouri State University, from May 2002 to July of 2008, and the associate director from August 1997 to May 2002. His teaching interests include research methods, social problems and quantitative analysis. His sponsored research projects define an eclectic research agenda.