There is an Abortion Referendum on Every State’s Ballot This November
AUDIENCE:Reproductive Justice, Women
By: Roshni Nedungadi
This past August, Kansas, a state that twice elected Donald Trump by double-digits, shocked the country by emphatically voting down an attempt from GOP officials to ban abortion in the state. Imbued with the strength of new young voters and women voters, who rushed to register after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the referendum attracted record-setting turnout and gave hope to pro-choice voters across the country.
In our HIT Focus Groups, we saw the impact of this event firsthand. Whereas many voters felt defeated in the immediate aftermath of Roe, the events in Kansas inspired voters to optimism that their vote can be powerful in protecting reproductive rights.
However, not every state will have the opportunity to hold their own referendum, leaving it up to Democrats everywhere to ensure voters understand what is at stake in the midterms.
Referendum or not, abortion IS on the ballot in every single state in the union because without the federal protections of Roe, each state can craft any and all restrictions on women’s reproductive healthcare. And Republicans statewide are gladly running with the Supreme Court’s baton and enforcing merciless and dangerous laws that are completely out of step with the general public.
For instance, an Economist poll from June showed that 63% of Americans oppose a 6-week abortion ban and just 12% of Americans favor total abortion bans. In fact, 62% of Americans support abortion access in all or most cases according to Pew Research in July.
But that has not stopped the nominations of “no abortion, no exceptions” candidates even in competitive states across the country. Doug Mastriano, the GOP nominee for Pennsylvania Governor, said he would ban all abortions in the state. In Arizona, GOP nominee Kari Lake proudly dubbed abortion as “the ultimate sin”. Similar patterns are true for GOP candidates in hotly contested elections in Wisconsin, Georgia, and Nevada, all of whom are would likely seek to join the already 14-states that have totally banned abortion since Dobbs.
And, nearly all of these races are rated as “Toss-Ups” by election forecaster Cook Political Report. Just a few thousand votes will make the difference between reproductive healthcare access and horrific, extremist laws that eliminates reproductive care outright and punishes women who seek it.
So, while federal races and legislative transgressions, such as Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) proposed abortion ban, grab the bulk of political headlines, it is these statewide races that will ultimately decide the fate of reproductive freedoms for millions of people across the country.
Here Kansas provides Democrats the ultimate blueprint to win in November. By making abortion the focal point of their campaign messaging, Democrats running for statewide positions can ensure voters see their race as the referendum for reproductive justice that it truly is.
Democrats everywhere cannot pass up the opportunity to drag the GOP’s craven extremism to the forefront and create a lightning rod for turnout of young voters, voters of color, and women voters.
Roshni Nedungadi is a founding partner and Chief Research Officer of HIT Strategies, the leading millennial and minority-owned public opinion research firm in Washington, D.C. She leads polling for reproductive health advocacy groups, political organizations and political campaigns