GOP Congressman Roger Marshall has a 4-point lead over Democrat Barbara Bollier in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Kansas, according to a poll published Thursday by the New York Times and Siena College.
The poll also found President Donald Trump with a 7-point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, a far cry from the 21-point margin Trump managed in the 2016 election.
But it is the Senate race where the attention of Kansas politicos is focused, with the NYT/Siena survey coming as the first independent polling done on the race since August.
The results mirror other internal polling that has surfaced in recent weeks, with the race within the margin of error.
The Times poll had Marshall with 46% of the vote compared to Bollier’s 42% with a 4-point margin of error. Libertarian Jason Buckley managed 4% of the vote and 6% of those surveyed said they remained undecided.
The results predictably show both candidates as strong with voters in their respective parties, but Bollier maintained a 20-point gap with those who identify as independent, something that could be decisive.
The poll comes a day after internal polling from a Marshall-aligned political action committee showed him with an 11-point lead over Bollier. Conversely, a Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by a left-leaning health care advocacy group showed a 43-43 tie.
It also comes in the thick of advance balloting throughout Kansas, with 21% of voters saying they had already cast their ballots. Of those who had yet to do so, 40% said they would still be looking to vote early, either in person or by mail.
Bollier and her supporters have claimed to be on the rise in recent weeks, pointing to a record $13 million fundraising haul last week as evidence of enthusiasm.
"Polling has consistently shown this race in a dead heat, and that hasn’t changed," said Alexandra de Luca, Bollier’s communications director in a statement. "We have endorsements from nearly 100 Republican elected officials, historic fundraising and momentum on our side."
Meanwhile, Marshall’s backers have argued he will eventually pull away from Bollier, much as U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts did in 2014 against independent Greg Orman.
"This poll reflects what we’re seeing on the ground," Eric Pahls, Marshall’s campaign manager, said in a text message. "That despite the historic flood of money coming from out-of-state, Dr. Marshall has the lead and closing momentum in this race."
There has been a record spree of outside spending from super PACs in the race, which experts believe underscores its competitiveness.
The Center for Responsive Politics pegs the outside spending in the general election race alone at $34 million, not including the hotly contested GOP primary between Marshall and former Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
The candidates are running to replace retiring Roberts, who is retiring after 24 years in office. If Bollier wins, she would be the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Kansas since 1932.
Trump’s lead is also tightening compared with his margin of victory in Kansas four years ago, although few believe that the president will lose the state. The last time a Democrat won Kansas was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.