Topline

Kansas voters rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have paved the way for the state to enact new abortion restrictions—a sign of how engaged Americans are on abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which could impact a slew of races and referendums in November that will materially affect abortion policies.

Key Facts

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Other ballot measures: Kentucky will also have a ballot measure that asks voters to specify the state Constitution doesn’t support abortion rights, while California, Vermont and probably Michigan (the measure still has to be formally approved) will have questions in November asking voters to enshrine abortion protections in state law, and Montana has a more narrow question on rights for infants born alive.

Congress: President Joe Biden has stressed Americans should re-elect a Democratic majority in the House and elect two additional Democratic senators to protect abortion rights, as that will give the party a clear Senate majority that can abolish the filibuster and pass a bill enshrining abortion rights in federal law—the best chances of Democrats flipping Senate seats are in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and the party faces the toughest fights to hold seats in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

Gubernatorial races: Close races for the governors’ seats in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona will be among the most influential for abortion rights, as Democratic governors in those states could thwart attempts by GOP-controlled legislatures to enact new abortion restrictions, while Democrats will face longer odds challenging anti-abortion governors in Florida, Texas and Ohio.

Attorneys general: Attorneys general are tasked with enforcing their states’ abortion laws, and races will be particularly important in Michigan and Wisconsin, which both have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books that the Democratic incumbents have refused to enforce, as well as in Arizona and Georgia.

State legislatures: Abortion rights advocates are trying to flip state legislatures in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire to protect abortion rights, as well as stay off GOP supermajorities in Kentucky, North Carolina and Wisconsin so lawmakers can’t override Democratic governors’ vetoes on abortion bills.

State Supreme Courts: State Supreme Courts can block or uphold abortion bans under state law, and 86 seats will be on the ballot in November, with the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics identifying North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Montana, Michigan, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Arkansas as the most competitive states to watch, along with relecting Kansas Supreme Court justices who defended abortion rights in 2019.

Crucial Quotes

“The result tonight is a big deal,” a Republican political strategist in Kansas told the Wall Street Journal about the state's abortion ballot measure being defeated. “If Republicans think the issue of abortion isn't on the minds of voters, tonight's results should put them on notice.”

Big Number

59%. That's the share of voters who opposed the abortion ballot measure in Kansas as of Wednesday afternoon with all precincts reporting, according to to the Secretary of State's office. The ballot measure, which asked voters to approve a constitutional amendment saying it does not protect abortion rights, was expected to be a much closer vote, with a July poll finding 47% of backed the amendment and 43% opposed it.

Contra

A Washington Post/Schar School poll conducted in July went against the Kansas results and other suggesting the Supreme Court's abortion ruling will motivate voters, finding anti-abortion instead actually appeared to be more likely to vote. The poll found for women who said the ruling is a loss (jor loss) were 18 percentage points less likely to say they'd vote in November than those who didn't believe it was a loss (52% versus 70%). It also found 55% of Americans who support abortion being legal were likely to vote versus 66% of those who said it should be illegal, results that appeared driven by pro-abortion rights voters being disillusioned by lawmakers' response to the decision.

Key Background

The Kansas ballot measure marked the first test of Americans' views on abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24, and if the ballot measure had been approved, it could have paved the way for the state to enact new restrictions on the procedure or ban it entirely. The ballot measure's failure means that the Kansas Supreme Court's 2019 ruling defending abortion rights will remain in place and continue to block Republicans from restricting the procedure, though the court's precedent could still be overturned in the future. Kansas' vote marked the first time in recent years that voters in GOP-controlled states have been willing to defend abortion rights, with voters in Louisiana in 2020, Alabama and West Virginia in 2018 and Tennessee in 2014 all approving amendments that stated the states' constitutions do not protect abortion rights. The vote reflected a broader national opposition to the ruling and the wave of state-level bans that have ensued, however, with a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finding that only 25% of US adults actually want their state to ban abortion and only 33% support the Supreme Court's decision.

Abortion Will Remain Legal In Kansas As Ballot Measure To Amend Constitution Fails (Forbes)

Michigan May Join These 5 States In Putting Abortion On The Midterms Ballot (Forbes)

Where Abortion Is on the Ballot (New York Times)

7 governor's races that could hinge on abortion politics (Vox)

The battleground House and Senate races where the end of Roe could have the biggest impact (Vox)

Democrats warn abortion access is on the line in key statehouse races (The 19th)

Judges most Americans ignore will now decide your right to abortion (Insider)