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Mainstream Media and Abortion Advocates Fawn All Over Kansas Vote, but Will It Matter for the Midterms?

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

Tuesday night's primaries took place in several states, including Kansas. In addition to selecting their nominees for various offices, Kansans voted whether to approve a constitutional amendment on abortion.

The amendment in question asked people on amending the state constitution to indicate that nothing in the constitution creates a right to an abortion or requires funding for abortion, also indicating that the legislature has the authority to pass laws on abortion, which a "yes" vote would have supported. 

A "no" vote opposed the constitutional amendment, and also stood by the Kansas Supreme Court's 2019 Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt which ruled that the Kansas Bill of Rights includes a so-called right to abortion. 

As Leah reported, the measure failed. With over 95 percent of the vote in, the "no" side won with 58.78 percent of the vote, while the "yes" side had 41.22 percent of the vote. 

On Twitter, news of the vote permeated the "What's Happening" section, even into Wednesday. Trends included not only "Kansas," but also "#AbortionRights" and "#AbortionIsHealthcare."

CNN and MSNBC provided coverage on virtually every program throughout the day. In the 4:00pm news hour, MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" began by announcing that the vote on the Kansas abortion amendment was "BREAKING NEWS." 

News reports highlighted how this was a telling vote, the first since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with their Dobbs v. Jackson decision on June 24:

That state residents voted to keep abortion in their state not only speaks to democracy at work, as the Court intended, but also dumps cold water on fear-mongering concerns that there's no stopping the pro-life movement's goal to ban abortions in states and perhaps even at the national level. 

Outlets also jumped to claim that this vote holds implications for the midterms:

Democrats certainly are emboldened now, with the November midterms quickly approaching.

This includes not just Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), but President Joe Biden himself. 

During Wednesday's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre began by discussing the vote:

Okay, so we have seen a lot of momentum in the last 24 hours in our fight to restore Roe.  Americans in Kansas turned out to challenge views that would move the country backwards, with fewer rights and politicians invading our most personal decisions.  And they won.

In the wake of Dobbs, the President predicted people would turn out in record numbers to reclaim rights stolen from them, and they did.  The ballot measure proposed by extreme, out-of-step Republican officials would have eviscerated fundamental rights and access to healthcare.

Republican officials have been very clear they are pushing extreme laws banning a woman’s right to choose, many of which don’t allow exceptions even for rape or incest.  And they are calling on a national ban on abortion.

Biden also signed an executive order regarding abortion on Wednesday, as had been announced earlier in the day. As if this administration could not be more focused on abortion, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the first meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. The president mentioned Kansas during his opening remarks, as did Harris. 

That preoccupation did not go unnoticed by the RNC. "Our country is in a recession, Americans can’t afford gas or groceries, and yet all Joe Biden cares about is pushing his radical and unpopular late-term abortion agenda. Republicans will continue to fight for commonsense pro-life protections and the pocketbook issues that families care about," said Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement. 

Many polls show that abortion is not the top issue for voters, though, especially when they prioritize economic issues. Democrats may hope that they can depend on the abortion issue come November, but it's not the guarantee that they seem to think it is.

It doesn't seem that the DNC has gotten the memo, though, as they continue to focus on highlighting the Republican Party's position on abortion, by advertising the "Too Extreme GOP" rallies.

Richard Baris, of Big Poll Data, told Townhall that Tuesday night's abortion vote "may hurt some on the margins, but people are not talking enough about the specifics of that ballot initiative. The wording for that amendment was obscure and 'No' used it to their advantage, sending rural counties mailers and ads that were extremely deceptive about what the amendment meant for abortion."

When it comes to a more accurate preview of the November midterm elections, Baris pointed Townhall to the two-party vote shares in Washington State, as explained by Sean Trends for RealClearPolitics (RCP) in 2010. Baris is confident those trends held and still hold. 

Failure may not so much be about the popularity of the abortion issue, as it is about the amendment's language, as Baris, and others, highlighted. 

Speaking to Fox News, Kellyanne Conway offered the timing of the amendment's vote may have been a factor, emphasizing "it may be too soon." and that "emotions are raw. Confusion is deep. You see that Planned Parenthood, I read last week, had a 40-fold increase in donations right after the Dobbs decision. So people are concerned that we've gone from all -- abortion anyone, any time, anywhere, essentially under Roe -- to nothing in some of these states. So it may be a little too soon for that."

Also, as Dr. Michael New tweeted, the pro-life movement was up against a well-funded abortion movement, with support from the mainstream media. 

This was not the only opportunity that voters have when it comes to ballot initiatives on abortion. In Kentucky, voters will indicate whether they think their state constitution guarantees a right to an abortion. 

Other states have had success with pro-life ballot initiatives, including Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia

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