Perhaps the most remembered line from the 1974 movie Blazing Saddles is, “Where da white wimmin at?” Politically I’ve been wondering the same thing, albeit with proper English, for years. While even with Donald Trump as the GOP standard bearer women as a demographic have voted for the Democrat the sub-demographic of white women broke slightly for Trump. Tuesday night my question was answered.
It seems allegations, no matter how credible, of bad behavior (i. e. “Grab them by the [censored]”) did not make enough of an impact on the majority of white women to get them to vote Democratic; a threat to their autonomy and insult to their intelligence did.
Kansas Republicans tried to get a referendum passed that would have enabled them to do an end run around a state supreme court ruling and enact anti-choice laws. They played every legal trick in the books and perhaps a few that were, at best, in the grey area. First off, the issue was put on the primary ballot. Primaries have lower turnouts which always favor Republicans and right wing issues. Add to that the fact that Kansas is a closed primary state – in other words you can only vote in a party’s primary if you are register in that party. Kansas being a red state there is much more likely to be a primary for the GOP than the Democratic nod. For third party members or independent voters you can still get a ballot for the issue alone but there is certainly less motivation to show up.
The issue was worded in a misleading manner (and I’m being polite). There was also a massive misinformation campaign (again I’m being polite) a million dollars of which was funded by the Catholic church. (In full disclosure while I have considered myself an agnostic for decades, I was raised Catholic.) Whatever happened to the separation of church and state thing?
Going into Tuesday the pro-choice side was pretty much resigned to losing and their hope was a close loss where they could claim a moral victory. Republicans outnumber Democrats in Kansas by about 2:1. Kansas last elected a Democratic Senator in 1932 and last voted for a Democrat for president in 1964. In 2020 Donald Trump, the self proclaimed [censored] grabber, won the state by nearly 15%. Even in a fair contest this is not exactly fertile Democratic territory. Yet, the issue failed 59-41%. (In politics, a 60-40 win is considered a landslide.)
I don’t have any great numbers on turnout demographic numbers at this writing but we know the total turnout was about as large as the general election turnout in 2008. In America women are slightly more than 50% of voters. America is 57.8 % white and Kansas is a bit whiter at 61.6%. I feel comfortable in deriving that many white women (and I hope many of the men that love them) flipped from their usual position in order to make that miracle happen.
Now I’ll turn to giving out free advice to Democratic candidates in 2022. Run on being pro-choice! Make it one of the central planks in your platform. Mention it in every ad and every time you speak! It’s a winner, plain and simple. If it can win in Kansas it can win almost any place else in America. Honestly ask yourself, “Is my district more right wing than Kansas?”
You may need to modify your stance a bit; then again it may be your legislate stance. The vast majority is against total bans on abortion especially without exceptions for the life of the mother, rape or incest. That is exactly what most Republican sponsored legislation is calling for despite their torturing language to the contrary. You are pro-choice. In practice the choice is up to the pregnant individual, not the state legislature. Nobody I know of is talking about mandatory abortions.
As to the linguistically clever but literally inaccurate to the point of being a punchline “pro-life” I suggest a t-shirt and/or bumper sticker that reads: “I’m alive and I vote.”
This issue is proven to get people out to the polls. Turnout, especially in mid-terms, is crucial. If you doubt that just look back to what lack of turnout did in 2010 – an election we are still paying the political price for.
Just think, it started in Kansas. For once I’ll have to question the title of Thomas Frank’s genius 2004 book, What’s the Matter with Kansas? Not last Tuesday!
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