Wisconsin's primary has grabbed the national spotlight, but Kansans also will register their presidential preferences Tuesday in the Sunflower State's first-ever such primary.
At stake are 37 Democratic and 32 Republican delegates, with President Carter and former California governor Ronald Reagan heavily favored.
A late-winter blizzard and lack of attention by the candidates were expected to discourage voting. Snow pile up as high as a foot in some far northwestern counties, and some local officials reported people were unable to leave their homes today.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his campaign workers say they do not expect victory. Kennedy workers say their best hope is that the senator's Connecticut and New York wins and the inflation issue will work together to bring their candidate to within an acceptable percentage of the president.
Because the primary law allows each candidate delegates based on proportional showings in the total vote, it is expected that each of the major candidates in both parties will pick up some delegates.
For Carter, a victory over Kennedy could be soured by a close margin. Carter aides say it will be embarrassing if the president does not do well in this conservative Midwestern farm state, site of a natural Carter constituency. And they are worried about their polls that show a large number of voters still undecided in recent days.
"We can't afford the luxury of any more messages like we got in New York and the Northeast," said Robert S. Strauss, Carter's campaign manager.
Carter attempted to shore up his support by sending Vice President Mondale into the state's two largest cities, Wichita and Kansas City, today.
On the Republican side, Reagan is seen as the leading man, with a fight for second place between George Bush and Rep. John B. Anderson (R-Ill.). The congressman is seen as moving up in recent weeks by appealing to the 40 percent of Kansas voters who identify themselves as independents.
Bush's state coordinator, Joe Bailer, is conceding nothing to Reagan. He is basing his hopes on a Reagan appearance before a group of farmers and ranchers in Wichita March 23.
At that time Reagan said he was unsure how he felt about 100 percent parity for farmers -- a battle cry of the American Agriculture Movement -- because he didn't know enough about the issue. Bush workers say their campaign polling showed the undecided GOP vote shot from 35 to 50 percent following Reagan's statement.
Unlike the farmers of Iowa, who found presidential candidates traipsing through their cornfields in search of early-season support, Kansas wheat farmers largely have been ignored by the candidates -- as has most of the state.