The biggest story of the August 2 election didn’t involve any candidates, but could have significant implications for the upcoming November elections. In Kansas, the resounding rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Kansas legislature to further restrict abortion access, suggests the motivating power of the abortion issue for this fall, especially in suburban areas like Kansas City’s Johnson County, which rejected the proposed amendment 68 percent to 32 percent. Poll after poll has shown the unpopularity of the Roe decision; the Kansas amendment vote verified the data.
However, it’s also important to remember that this was a clean up or down vote on an issue. Voters will feel more cross-pressured this fall when they are voting not on a specific amendment, but on candidates. Will the issue of abortion rank as highly as other important concerns like the rising cost of living and fears of a looming recession? Can Democrats turn individual races into a referendum on abortion rights, or will Republicans be able to ride a wave of discontent over the struggling economy to victory?
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