Calmez: The Kansas abortion vote shows that populism can work for Democrats, too

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. appears to be enjoying the fun he got from a friendly audience abroad when he recently mocked foreign leaders by name, and Prince Harry also for criticizing the Supreme Court opinion he wrote robbing Americans of their federal constitutional right to an abortion.

However, most Americans didn’t find Stick Alito funny at all. And now voters in Kansas – KS! The Scarlet Red State that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the US Senate since Franklin D. Roosevelt was first elected — passed its verdict on Alito’s work: No. By 18 percentage points, they voted this week to retain the right to abortion. State constitution.

Take this, Sam.

However, the unelected Alito has a life seat on the Supreme Court, and has been declared unconcerned with public reactions to his conservative decisions outside the mainstream. As written in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, judges cannot worry about such “external influences”.

opinion writer

Jackie Calms

Jackie Calmes brings a critical look into the national political landscape. She has decades of experience covering White House and Congressional affairs.

Do you know who he is he is concerned? Republicans who are not held for life, and who face election or re-election this fall. They and their dealers should care about what the audience thinks. And the reaction of the Kansas voters — the first electoral test of the case since a 5-4 court ruling in June repealing abortion rights precedents for half a century — now points to a potential breakaway against the red wave Republicans have been counting on in November. They control Congress and the highest state offices.

Polls showed that the backlash against Dobbs was galvanizing Democrats and left-leaning independents even before Kansans voted. Whether that anger can offset Americans’ fears of inflation and President Biden’s unpopularity is a big question. However, Democrats suddenly became more confident in their ability to maintain a majority in the Senate, and Republicans became more anxious, according to my report.

Republicans are still widely favored for a House majority, but no less than former GOP Chairman Michael Steele and George W. Bush’s political strategist Matthew Dodd predicted on MSNBC, Post-Kansas, that Democrats could retain power in both houses.

But few other states are expected to have abortion rights on the ballot this fall, similarly acting as a magnet for pro-choice voters to the polls. The challenge for Democrats is to get Republican candidates to embody the threat to reproductive freedom both in the states and in Congress, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has joined the call for a nationwide ban. “Republicans make it very easy to do,” says Democratic pollster Jeff Garen, given the far-right extremism of the candidates they nominate.

The Senate’s Democratic majority PAC, of ​​which Garen works, is broadcasting a video ad attacking Blake Masters, the winner of this week’s Republican primary in Arizona to run against Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, for favoring a national anti-abortion law with no exceptions for rape, incest or life of a pregnant woman. Carrie Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, has praised Supreme Court to open “a new chapter in life… where we help women become the mothers they are meant to be.”

A closer look at the Kansas vote shows why there is a new hope for Democrats and a new fear for Republicans: turnout.

Hundreds of thousands of Kansans voted to have an abortion more than they voted in the primaries for both parties combined. The 900,000 electors had nearly double the total vote in the previous Kansas midterm primaries. Their numbers approached a peak turnout of more than one million in the last general election for president.

So much for the machinations of the great Republican majority in the Kansas legislature: It limited the vote on the abortion amendment in a party primaries that typically have an unusually low Democratic turnout for the three in 10 politically unaffiliated voters in Kansas, who usually cannot vote. they. These independents could have voted to hold the ballot, and they opposed it.

Not surprisingly, urban and suburban areas provided a lot of opposition to the anti-abortion amendment. But 14 rural counties did overwhelmingly favor Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020.

This finding was a vindication of strategy on the pro-abortion side: to wrest the mantra of “freedom” from the Republican Party and argue that, regardless of your view of abortion, government should not make medical decisions for people and force pregnancy. . Populism can work for both parties.

Kansas’ lopsided outcome was also a victory for direct democracy in these increasingly anti-democratic times. Compare the people’s choice with the rush in red state legislatures – Indiana, for example – to ban or severely restrict abortion. These legislators are isolated from public opinion by manipulated circles. Their only fear is to challenge the far-right party if they show moderation.

That’s why, between now and the 2024 election, Democrats will try to put more abortion rights measures in front of the public anywhere states allow voter initiatives on the ballot.

This possibility constitutes an opportunity to call Alito’s trick. In his view, abortion rights advocates essentially dared to use the ballot box to make their way into the states. “Women are not without electoral or political power,” he wrote (without explaining why he didn’t think men had a dog in this fight).

For Democrats to maintain control of the Senate, buoyed by a backlash against abortion rights, it would be especially interesting. That would deny Mitch McConnell his hoped-for return as majority leader in January — an apt response to a senator who broke the rules to create the supermajority in the Supreme Court that enabled Rowe to reverse it.

Alito took the big win in June with his opinion on Dobbs. But voters can be sure he won’t finally laugh at him.

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