Reading Time: 2 minutes

When pundits exhaust the forces of nature to describe a ballot result—”tsunami,” “earthquake,” “thunderclap,” and the inevitable “tornado”—you know we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

Except Kansas is exactly where we are. It’s middle America Kansas, reliably red Kansas, that delivered a breathtaking rebuke to a ballot effort that would have allowed legislators to ban abortion in the state.

If it had been a squeaker, a ballot measure defeated by a margin of a few hundred votes, it might have been dismissed as a fluke. If it was Biden +30 Connecticut instead of Trump +15 Kansas, there would be no news. If turnout was low, or if Democrats dominated the vote, it could be seen as a logistical failure rather than a bellwether.

Instead, it was a cross-party Kansas vote by yet another disaster metaphor: a landslide.

Kansas primary election turnout is usually between 350,000 and 460,000, around 20-25% of registered voters. In 2020, with culture war fires blazing, turnout rose to 636,000, about 32%.

Turnout for this election was an astonishing 904,000—almost exactly half of the electorate, the highest primary election turnout in the state’s history—with 59% voting to preserve abortion rights.

Perhaps the most chilling result for Republicans nationwide is the utter disregard of party affiliation in the result. Only 26% of registered Kansas voters are Democrats, meaning Republicans were well-represented in the no vote as well. And across the state, “from the bluest counties to the reddest ones,” abortion rights outran support for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

A New York Times analysis finds that the overwhelming vote in a state as conservative as Kansas, combined with 63% of Americans who opposed the overturning of Roe v. Wade, suggests that 4 out of 5 states nationwide would similarly vote to protect those rights.

A further indication of the likely national cross-party repercussions of the Dobbs decision is the unprecedented wave of registration by women.

By massively overplaying their hand on reproductive rights, ignoring the majority opinion of Americans, and stripping women of a right secured for half a century, Republicans may have finally broken the party-line stalemate of the culture war. As midterm elections approach, the chessboard has been upended for control of Congress and the future of reproductive rights.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments