DemList: The Impact of Kansas

August 4, 2022

In the first referendum on abortion rights since the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected a state constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

It was an astounding victory for Democrats and abortion rights advocates in one of the country's more conservative states, which Donald Trump won by 15% in 2020.

The "no" vote opposing an amendment to the state’s constitution to specify that the right to an abortion is not guaranteed, garnered an amazing 58.9%. It also galvanized more than 900,000 Kansans to show up at the polls, the biggest turnout for a primary election in the state’s history.

The vote, which came just six weeks after the Supreme Court's conservative supermajority ripped away the reproductive rights of American women, provides hope for maintaining or restoring the right to an abortion in other red states via ballot initiatives.

The win is also a game-changer for Democrats going into the midterms as proof that the issue can motivate voters in the general election.

As Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) told The Washington Post, “Kansas is the earthquake that is going to rattle every assumption about what is going to happen this fall.”

The midterms will determine control of the US House, which stands at 221 Democrats to 214 Republicans, and the US Senate, currently tied at 50-50. While Democrats are favored to maintain control of the US Senate, their hopes of retaining control of the US House start with historical odds against them. Since World War II, the sitting president's party has lost an average of 26 seats in the House.

While Tuesday's candidate primaries in five states proved that former President Donald Trump still has a significant hold on dedicated GOP voters, the outcome of pitting ultra-right conservatives, all of whom are pro-life, against moderate pro-choice Democrats in red states, could easily backfire for the GOP in the general election.

As President Joe Biden said yesterday, regarding the Kansas vote, Republicans “don’t have a clue about the power of American women. Last night in Congress and Kansas, they found out.”

In 2022, at least five initiatives addressing abortion will be on the ballot -- the most on record for a single year. Measures have been certified in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont.

DemList will keep you informed.

According to a July 22-24, 2022 CNN/SSRS survey of American adults, 63% say they disapproved of the Supreme Court's June ruling, which upended protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly fifty years, while 37% approved of it. About half, 51%, say they disapproved strongly, including 54% of women.

DemDaily: US House: The Political Landscape and Updated Race Ratings! 7/29/22
DemDaily: Ballot Initiatives in Your State 7/26/22
DemDaily: Orders in the Aftermath: Access and Abortion 7/11/22
DemDaily: DemDaily: Supreme Court Silences Roe 6/24/22

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: New York Times, Washington Post

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