All the polls before the election suggested a high chance of passage. If Kansas voters chose yes, the wording in the state constitution would be repealed, setting lawmakers to pass a complete abortion ban in the state when the next session begins in January. I guess.
But it didn’t happen. In fact, the abortion rights side won by more than 20 points over him.
There are several reasons for this.
First, there is the pressing real-world issue of the availability of abortions to women not only in Kansas, but in neighboring states. Kansas’ neighboring states include Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, where abortion is prohibited. We even got to see where people in the Texas Panhandle drive to Kansas. Kansas currently has four facilities that perform surgery. (Abortion is still legal in Nebraska, which shares a long border with Kansas, but the governor is calling for a special session to further address abortion restrictions.)
Second, it suggests that the political backlash to Dobbs’ decision may be greater than political pundits imagine.
This vote was no fluke. Abortion was the issue that drove voter turnout to a memorable high in the midterm primaries. It was a provocative issue that resulted in millions of dollars in political spending and many out-of-state volunteers. And it prevailed not only in progressive and swing areas of the state, such as the Kansas City suburbs, but even in some areas considered more conservative. did.
Third, with three months to go before the midterm elections, the political conversation could change. Polling so far suggests that Dobbs’ decision and abortion are generally drowned out in the conversation by issues like inflation and the economy.
But what happened in Kansas may indicate that the polls are wrong, and that if the Democrats put abortion at the forefront, it’s a way to mobilize voters. One lesson from Kansas is that while abortion rights groups played an effective ground game to get voters into polls, anti-abortion groups sent millions to television ads. You spent a dollar, but you didn’t turn it into a vote.
Consider this statistic. According to political data firm TargetSmart, since Dobbs’ decision on June 24, his 70% of newly registered voters in Kansas were women, and registrants were her 8% Democratic supporters. .
Groups like Planned Parenthood were able to identify potential voters, convince them to register to vote, and vote on a hot August day.
Democrats, especially in the swing area, may emphasize abortion more than ever. In New England, where abortion rights are strongly supported, this may be a major Democrat issue. Expect to be featured in elections such as the New Hampshire Senate election, the Maine gubernatorial election, and the New Hampshire and Rhode Island legislative elections.
That said, what happened in Kansas was astonishing, but may be difficult to translate into a victory in the Democratic midterm elections this fall. It took a lot of Republicans to vote for it to win a victory this big. But choosing, say, the Republican or Democratic candidate for Congress is a whole other thing.
Still, the win was a big one for the abortion rights community that seemed to be losing steam this summer.
James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. follow him on twitter @James Spindell and on Instagram @jameswpindell.