Right-wingers thought they had a foolproof game plan in Kansas. It fell apart, and that could change everything

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

Pundits have been wearing out their thumbs on Twitter ever since the results of the Kansas referendum on abortion came in Tuesday night. The victory on the “No” side, against amending the state constitution to remove its protection of abortion rights, was decisive, 59 to 41 percent. Voting “Yes” in the referendum meant that the constitution could be amended and laws further restricting or banning abortion entirely could be passed in the state.

Protesters holding signs Abortion Is Healthcare, My Body My Choice, Bans Off Our Bodies, Human rights. People with placards supporting abortion rights at protest rally demonstration.

Republicans had made the vote confusing on purpose. To a casual observer, a “no” vote might seem to mean you were against abortion rights, and “yes” vote that you were for abortion rights, when in fact it was the other way around. The state Republican Party also scheduled the vote on primary day in August, when turnout is typically much heavier for the GOP in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats almost two to one and frequently have competitive primary contests, while Democrats rarely do and their voters often don’t bother to show up.. Furthermore, Republicans were betting that turnout among independents would be low because they are not permitted to vote in either party’s primaries.

That strategy failed across the board. Turnout among Democrats was high, as it was among independents, all of them apparently driven to the polls by the abortion referendum on the ballot. The vote by political party was not monolithic, either, with many Republicans crossing over to vote no. Even in the conservative rural counties of western Kansas, which Donald Trump carried by lopsided margins in 2020, the vote against the referendum measure was in the range of 40 percent, meaning that many Republicans voted to preserve abortion rights

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