On Tuesday, we got our first test of how potent an issue abortion might be for Democrats this fall. In a state that overwhelmingly voted for then-President Donald Trump in 2020, a ballot initiative clarifying that Kansas’s state constitution does in fact protect abortion won by double digits.
What’s going on?
On the one hand, public opinion on whether abortions should generally be legal or illegal hasn’t changed much since the Supreme Court decided in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to end the constitutional right to abortion earlier this summer. In fact, daily tracking polls from Civiqs show that the share of registered voters who think abortion should be legal has held steady at 57-58 percent throughout the past year — even though there have been mounting restrictions on reproductive rights.
But the relative stability of the topline numbers masks significant changes in the scenarios under which Democrats, independents and Republicans now think that abortion should be permitted or banned — shifts that speak in part to why abortion is becoming such a powerful wedge issue for the Democratic Party.