Abortion rights are popular. We’ve always known that. According to Pew Research, Americans support abortion rights by a 61-37 margin. It’s 58-38 in Civiqs. None of that mattered to Republicans because in reality, only conservatives voted on the issue. Democrats would say “Republicans are coming for your abortion rights!” and people would shrug, thinking they were Chicken Littles for political gain.
So when the illegitimate and reactionary Supreme Court eliminated those rights, the question wasn’t whether they were on the side of the American people, but whether voters cared enough to act on the decision. National Review’s Rich Lowry smugly proclaimed, “Sorry, Samuel Alito isn’t handing Democrats the election.”
Lowry and his Republican friends all across the country can officially freak the f’ out, because the first state to vote on the issue, Kansas, affirmed the right to an abortion by a massive margin. Votes are still being counted, but the final margin will likely hover around 60-40 in favor of those rights, in a state that Donald Trump won 56-42.
In our podcast, Kerry Eleveld and I were discussing abortion rights a year ago, understanding that overturning Roe could have massive electoral consequences, but the male electoral punditry was wedded to their “red wave” narrative, and even now, many cling to it. Republicans had convinced themselves the issue would “fade” by November.
“These are the kind of things that are going to breathe life into the Democrats’ hopes of maintaining some sort of coalition,” lamented John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the country. But, he added, “I don’t think this is the dominant issue as we’re going into November, but these kinds of unforced errors are lifelines for the Democrats.”
Red Kansas has just stood for abortion rights by an unbelievable margin. So yeah, this issue will be dominant. And it won’t just be dominant because people support abortion rights. There’s an even bigger reason:
Liberals are going to vote on abortion, the way conservatives always have.
I can’t stress enough how game-changing this is. Evangelicals held their nose in 2016 and voted for Donald Trump, the nation’s most morally bankrupt person, simply because of abortion rights. That was the only thing that mattered. Meanwhile, Democratic turnout falters if a candidate doesn’t meet the loftiest standards. We are still suffering from the 2010 Republican wave, built upon Democratic voter apathy. Republicans don’t have those problems because whether it’s abortion or guns, they will get themselves to the polls on their one issue.
Kansas has given us undisputed proof that abortion is now a Democratic vote-driving single issue.
Turns out, people don’t like it when their rights are stripped away, and in a 50-50 country, this kind of voter registration and engagement won’t just expand our Senate majority, but could very well save a very tight House. Everything changed with Dobbs, and the political world can no longer ignore it.
And those liberal single-issue abortion (and maybe gun) voters? They don’t care about gas prices, they don’t care about Honduran caravans. They don’t care about “Critical Race Theory” or the latest conservative culture war manufactured hysteria. The Republican Party’s 2022 playbook has been rendered largely irrelevant. This election is being fought on abortion. We are finally on the winning side of a culture war issue, and it will be something to see Republicans try to explain this one away.
This should put an end to the “Chicken Little” dilemma facing Democrats. People now realize that conservative really do want to strip away certain rights, so wait until they learn that Republicans are also targeting contraception and same-sex marriage. If anyone doubts it, we can point to Justice Clarence Thomas’ very helpful concurring opinion on Dobbs!
One last thought—Kansas voters overwhelmingly defended abortion rights despite conservative efforts to put their thumb on the scale. They scheduled the vote for primary day, with few Democratic races on the ballot, and when Democratic performance traditionally drops off. And look at the Amendment’s loaded language:
Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.
“Because Kansans value both women and children,” and that last sentence confusingly tries to pretend that certain exceptions would be protected (when it does no such thing).
Congratulations Kansas for showing the country where it stands on abortion rights, and for making it very clear to both political parties and the punditry—November will be decided on abortion, and the rest of the rights under siege by Republican legislators and its Supreme Court.
Winning in Kansas feels amazing, but abortion is still on the ballot in Michigan and Kentucky. Can you chip in $3 to protect abortion rights in those states?
That pro-choice majority includes every single Senate battleground: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, as well as the reach state of Iowa. It also includes Texas, where we can win the governor's race.
Winning an election convincingly because your core supporters turned out is fun, guys! Let’s do it again. And again and again. And everywhere.
Look at here, more evidence for the single-issue abortion-rights voter:
To breakdown the partisan vote in Kansas as best we can, about 400,000 votes have been counted so far in the GOP primary for governor, but only about 325,000 votes for “yes” (the anti-choice side) have come in. That means at least 75,000 Republicans voted no, plus the overwhelmingly majority of the 160,000 voters who came to vote only on this amendment and didn’t vote in either party’s primary.
Even now, he can’t say the word “abortion.”