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Abortion rights advocates win landslide victory in key statewide race

As one GOP strategist put it, "If Republicans think the issue of abortion isn’t on the minds of voters, tonight’s results should put them on notice.”


South Dakota Republicans thought they’d come up with a clever plan. With Medicaid expansion on the ballot, GOP state legislators tried to pull a fast one: They put a related issue on the ballot that would force Medicaid expansion supporters to get 60 percent of the vote to succeed, instead of a simple majority.

Making matters worse, Republicans tried to rig the process further by having voters decide the matter on a day in June when many GOP primary voters — and not many Democrats — were likely to be casting ballots.

They failed spectacularly: Health care advocates turned out in droves two months ago and rejected the Republican measure in a landslide.

As it turns out, GOP policymakers in Kansas had a very similar strategy in mind about a different health care issue. Republicans in the Sunflower State pushed a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would allow the GOP-led legislature to ban abortions. They also put the issue on the primary ballot — on a day when there were no major Democratic contests — assuming that would give opponents of abortion rights an added advantage.

They also thought wrong. NBC News reported:

Kansas voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly struck down a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove language enshrining reproductive rights in their state, in a move widely seen as a victory for abortion rights activists. The proposed amendment was the first time anywhere in the U.S. that voters cast ballots on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

This isn’t a situation in which proponents of reproductive rights somehow managed to eke out a narrow victory: With just about all of the votes counted, opponents of the amendment won by nearly 18 points.

Remember, as far as many Republican leaders at the national level were concerned, the electoral impact of GOP-appointed Supreme Court justices overturning Roe v. Wade was likely to be minimal. There would be no political earthquake, they predicted, because Americans’ focus was elsewhere.

A resounding victory for abortion rights advocates in a reliably red state offered fresh evidence that those assumptions are in need of a reevaluation.

“The result tonight is a big deal,” a Republican political strategist in Kansas told The Wall Street Journal. “There were no major contested Democratic primaries to drive turnout and the amendment still failed resoundingly. If Republicans think the issue of abortion isn’t on the minds of voters, tonight’s results should put them on notice.”