As you know, tonight is another primary night. A number of key Senate contests will be decided. One big one is in Arizona, where Sen. Mark Kelly will get his challenger. Probably Blake Masters, a pro-authoritarian, anti-semitism-curious candidate endorsed by Trump and Peter Thiel. Another is Missouri where we’ll find out if Eric Greitens gets the chance to enter the Senate. We’ll also see whether a handful of impeachment-voting Republicans will survive primary challenges. If you’re interesting in the deep, deep dives on key local races around the country, my go-to guy is Daniel Nichanian who publishes these lists. Perhaps the most interesting contest is a referendum in Kansas where voters will get the chance to vote on whether to outlaw abortion in the state.
Currently, there is a Kansas Supreme Court decision which anchors abortion rights in the state, sort of a mini-Roe at the state level. Anti-abortion activists got this referendum scheduled for a sleepy primary election in August, figuring it was their best chance to get the kind of sparse turnout that would play to their advantage. But this all happened before Dobbs. Which changes things. But how much?
Kansas is a thoroughly red state. But as we’ve discussed in recent months, abortion rights usually run about even with anti-abortion politics even in the reddest states. So abortion rights supporters are trying to use the anti-Dobbs backlash to turn the tables on the referendum’s backers. It’s thus a first test of that backlash in purely electoral terms. The general consensus is that it could go either way. Even with lots of polls it would likely be hard to make firm predictions since you’re talking about what should be a low turnout election and one in which only Republicans can vote in the most contested primaries on the ballot.
One additional ripple. What the measure actually does is overrule the state Supreme Court decision making abortion legal. It doesn’t actually in itself ban abortion. And backers have played to that ambiguity, claiming they’re only looking for “common sense” restrictions. That clouds the matter a bit. But that’s the angle abortion opponents will always use. So to the extent we see the race as a political test that kind of deceptive messaging has to be baked in. Because that’s how antis will approach it in other states as well.