March 1, 2024

That’s the unexpected and consequential lesson from Tuesday’s Kansas primary.

CNN’s Greg Krieg called it “a lightning rod” in his analysis. That’s the right word.

Lawmakers in Kansas have asked voters to change the state constitution, which protects the right to abortion, and give them permission to pass new laws restricting or banning abortions. Voters resoundingly I said no.

It was a bipartisan message. The turnout was so overwhelming — more than 58% of Kansas primary voters voted to protect abortion rights — that it couldn’t have happened without the help of red-state Republicans. More Republicans than Democrats voted in the primary. See full results.

“We found common ground among diverse voters and mobilized people across the political spectrum to vote no,” said Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, which organized against the amendment.

One reason the result is amazing. State by state poll by PRRI in 2018before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, he suggested that Kansas was among red states and battleground states like Texas, Georgia and North Carolina where the public was almost evenly split when asked whether abortion should to be legal in most or all cases.

Kansas’ main question was a different one, about whether legislatures should have the power to regulate abortion rights. But it was the first time abortion was directly on a US ballot since the Supreme Court stripped women of the federally guaranteed right to an abortion they had grown accustomed to in the nearly 50 years since Roe V. Wade.

The turnout in Kansas was incredible. It’s August before the midterm elections and yet more than double the usual number of voters showed up.

In fact, turnout — more than 900,000 people participated in the primary — was on par with recent midterm general elections. It was approaching presidential election levels — 1.2 million Kansans voted in 2016 and 1.3 million voted in 2020.

CNN’s Harry Eden interpreted what we know about the turnout figures and found that more than 150,000 people likely turned out to vote on the abortion amendment alone, suggesting that it did motivate many voters.

“It’s very clear that the abortion amendment drove turnout in Kansas in a way that the political environment without abortion on the ballot was not able to,” according to Enten. Read his full analysis.

The result is a glimmer of hope for Democrats. They want to use the abortion issue to drive voters to the polls in November, when control of the House and Senate is on the line.

They made statements after the result and President Joe Biden signed new executive order on Wednesday intended to preserve abortion rights — though it will have little or no effect on states moving to restrict or cut off access to abortion altogether. Read more about Biden’s order.

But abortion is not on most November ballots. The problem may end up being that, unlike in the Kansas primary, a direct abortion question will not be on every voter’s ballot.

“This was actually abortion on the ballot,” CNN political director David Chalian told “Inside Politics” on Wednesday. “So we have to see if that holds true in the context of the general election.”

But surely the Democrats will try to make this a top issue.

“Right now, every Democratic politician on the ballot, their strategists are telling them, if you’re in a battleground state and you’re trying to win back some of those suburban independent voters who were pushed away by Donald Trump in ’18 and ’20. abortion rights front and center in your campaign.”

Key question in key government races. He will also be involved in key gubernatorial races, such as in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and especially in Michigan, where the Democratic governor is fighting to retain her seat. Governors can be a bulwark against GOP-dominated legislatures.

Abortion rights activists in Michigan have submitted signatures to secure a spot on the November ballot for an amendment that would add protections for abortion rights to the state constitution and repeal the 1931 abortion ban currently blocked by legal battle.

Where abortion may have less impact as an issue. In parts of the country like Kansas, where Republicans hold majorities in congressional delegations, it’s far from clear that Republicans who support abortion rights will defect to Democrats. In fact, there are some indications that they won’t.

CNN’s Ariel Edwards-Levy notes that the public is clearly opposed to the Supreme Court’s decision — in a Washington Post-Schar School Poll conducted July 22-24, a 65% majority said the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade was a significant loss of rights for women in America, with 35% saying it was not.

But he adds that opposition to the decision may not necessarily translate into a vote in November. The same survey finds that Democrats (62%) are less likely than Republicans (74%) to say they are confident they will vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

He also wrote that while a significant minority of Republicans support abortion rights, polling does not show they would swing to support a Democrat based on that issue alone.

What more voters are likely to list as a top priority is the economy. And this is an area where Democrats will have to explain why gas prices have been slow to fall and why inflation continues to drive up the cost of everyday goods for Americans.

More data from Tuesday’s primary:

  • It was a big night for election naysayers, particularly in Arizona.
  • A Republican who voted to impeach Trump was defeated in his primary race in Michigan by an election denialist helped by Democrats.
  • Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, one of two “Ericks” who received Trump’s last-minute endorsement, was unable to overcome past scandals to win the GOP Senate nomination.

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