Yesterday’s Olathe Republican Party picnic featured a straw poll that provided insight into statewide and local races as Kansas nears its August 3rd primary. The annual event is very popular, and this year 430 people paid the $2 fee to participate in the straw poll.
Martin Hawver, dean of Kansas Statehouse reporters, describes the importance of the event: “The picnic/poll has been closely watched in recent years because Olathe is a conservative bastion and it tends to bring Republican politics into a comfortably conservative venue from which the party’s internal strife can be measured.”
Voters vote only once in the poll.
Tom Little of Mound City and Bob Londerholm of Overland Park, little-known candidates who filed close to the June 10th deadline, each received two votes.
Tiahrt’s numbers were undoubtedly boosted by the 69 folks who made a 178-mile bus trip from Wichita to Olathe courtesy of the Tiahrt campaign. Subtracting these leaves Tiahrt with a still-large victory margin of 246 to 112. These results are a boost to the Tiahrt campaign, as it is thought that northeast Kansas is a key battleground in this contest. Hawver’s caveat that Olathe is a conservative bastion must be kept in mind, as Tiahrt makes an explicit appeal to conservative voters.
Both Tiahrt and Moran — along with many members of their campaign staffs — attended the event. Moran had to leave the picnic before the speechmaking started to attend to his mother, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Kansas Senator Karin Brownlee, an Olathe Republican, spoke in Moran’s place. Tiahrt spoke in person, and his speech was enthusiastically received by the audience.
It is commonly thought that the winner of this August Republican primary election will cruise to victory in the November general election.
In these straw polls, it is common for campaigns to pay the poll fee ($2 for this poll) for their supporters. In this case, the Yoder campaign went a little further, distributing free coupons that, when turned into a Yoder campaign representative, would let a family avoid paying the $10 admission fee. It is not known how many of these tickets were used, and other campaigns may have done the same.