Politics In Kansas and Arizona, voters defy expectations of charting...

In Kansas and Arizona, voters defy expectations of charting their own course


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Abortion rights supporters cheered in Overland Park, Kansas on August 2 as a proposed Kansas amendment that would have eliminated the right to abortion failed.

Kansas City Star/TNS

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Kansas City Star/TNS

Abortion rights supporters cheered in Overland Park, Kansas on August 2 as a proposed Kansas constitutional amendment that would have eliminated the right to abortion failed.

Kansas City Star/TNS

Everyone who knows anything about politics knows something about Kansas and Arizona — or so they think.

But we all know things can go wrong.

It’s at least worth taking a second look at Kansas and Arizona, which we all knew were the most conservative places in the country, steeped in the voting trends of the West and its agricultural-and-manufacturing economies. His political history is deeply intertwined with national Republican politics.

Before 2020, these states had voted for a Democrat for president only once in 70 years. They have also produced four candidates for president, including three Republican nominees since 1964, a remarkable record for their population.

But this past week may surprise you where you might expect them.

In Kansas, a special referendum to authorize the legislature to override the state constitution and enact new abortion restrictions was rejected. big time The No option received 58% of the vote. The turnout was nearly double that of the previous comparable primary and nearly identical to the November 2018 midterm elections. Unaffiliated voters with nothing else to vote for in the primary turned out to vote on the abortion measure – and got the thumbs down.

In a strong signal with national implications, the anti-abortion vote surpassed that of former President Trump by 15 points in the state. This data point raises the question of how other Trump states, or “red states,” might respond to the Supreme Court’s latest abortion decision in the context of this fall’s elections.

The New York Times’ Nate Cohn created formulas for polling and polling data to predict How all 50 states will vote If faced with the same ballot. He found only seven states where an anti-abortion measure would pass and estimated that nationally the popular vote against such a measure would be 65%.

Abortion opponents have been jolted this week, assuming Kansas would be a good place to launch a state-by-state battle over abortion rights that the Supreme Court has accelerated.

It seems they also had a lot of assumptions about Kansas.

Is Arizona Zero Now?

In Arizona, primary voters tossed out an entire slate of conservative statewide candidates backed by establishment Republicans in favor of four no-choice candidates who rejected the results of the state’s 2020 presidential election. From nominees for governor and senator to Arizona’s secretary of state and attorney general, candidates who bowed to Trump on the issue won his support and won the nomination.

Arizona Republicans who still revere the late Sen. John McCain, a frequent Trump nemesis, were alarmed. Honoring the memory of legendary Sen. Barry Goldwater, whose liberal approach to conservatism recruited Ronald Reagan, among others, to the GOP.

Republican Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates called the results “a disaster for the Arizona Republican Party, and I would argue. [for] Our democracy.”

The GOP is known for swallowing bitterness after primary fights and rallying around their candidates for the general election. But the difficulty of doing that this year was underscored by State Party Committee Chair Kelly Ward, who called the primary “the ghost of John McCain.”

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what divides Republicans in Arizona. The same can be said in other states where Republican candidates have latched onto Trump’s baseless and caustic claims about the 2020 election in order to win their support.

Should the Republican slate be defeated, it is possible that, based on actual polling, Arizona Democrats will win all statewide offices and more seats in Congress than ever before.

This will surely be another explosion of assumptions.

Learning lessons from Kansas and Arizona

So the first lesson from these unusual events is the unreliable nature of our ideas about our neighbors. The real world of state-by-state politics is more complicated than we think. Go figure.

Kansas, people are suddenly realizing, currently has a Democratic governor named Laura Kelly. Kansas’ last 10 governors have included five Democrats, going back 50 years.

In the state’s most populous county, suburban Johnson (literally across the street from Kansas City) voted 68% in favor of abortion last week. It is represented in Congress by Democrat and Native American woman Sherris Davids.

Arizona, known for its villages and retirement communities, has become increasingly non-Anglo in its population mix. Its Hispanic population was 19% in 1990, 25% in 2000, and now 32%. In addition, new arrivals from other states, particularly California, have increased the population and changed the politics of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and its suburbs. Maricopa now votes Democratic, and that has skewed the math for statewide elections.

Another knotty takeaway from the polls this week is the often humanistic nature of American politics, especially in the West and sparsely populated parts of the country.

People resent being told what they can or cannot do. We knew this about guns, vaccinations and masks. We’re seeing some of that with respect to abortion rights, even in red states.

Yet a third thing to always remember is that generalizing or projecting the results of one election — or a long history of them — is dangerous. Every race is always local and every candidate is a potential game changer. Thus, for example, Alabama could elect a Democrat named Doug Jones to the Senate in a 2018 special election and dismiss him two years later in a presidential election cycle. The Democrat was the same, his opponents and electoral conditions very different.

So it’s too early to draw too many conclusions about what this past week’s votes might mean for November in other states. In general elections in Kansas and Arizona, as elsewhere, the results will reflect national issues and trends. But that input will be filtered by the state’s special conditions and then renewed by the personalities of the participating candidates.

While it’s clear that the abortion issue increases voter turnout and motivates women (women accounted for 70% of new registrations after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling this spring in Kansas), it’s unclear how that will translate beyond the handful of referendum states. Same as in Kansas.

And while we may see polls suggesting Trump-backed Republicans are weak in general election battles against Democrats, it’s too early to tell which party will be more motivated three months from now. An arsonist can inspire more voters to support or oppose. And in Arizona, for example, Senate candidate Blake Masters has been quoted as saying that Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s Covid advisor, will “see the inside of a prison cell this decade.”

This is not the first time that these two states have been locked in a mid-term cycle of historical importance.

There was another in 1974, when Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency on the brink of impeachment in the Watergate scandal. In Arizona that year, the incumbent Republican senator whose name was on the ballot was Barry Goldwater. In Kansas it was Bob Dole.

In addition to the hangover from Watergate, major issues in that fall’s campaign were gas prices, inflation, and abortion. The Supreme Court’s decision last year made the latter public Roe v. Wade. The decision was immediately opposed by the US Council of Bishops and some other powerful religious organizations, but it was only recently beginning to grow in its ultimate power.

Bob Dole, then Republican presidential candidate, visits former Sen. Barry Goldwater, September 17, 1996.

David Ake/AFP via Getty Images

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David Ake/AFP via Getty Images

Bob Dole, then Republican presidential candidate, visits former Sen. Barry Goldwater, September 17, 1996.

David Ake/AFP via Getty Images

One place that felt that power early was Kansas. Dole was seeking his second term in the Senate and carried much of Nixon’s baggage, having been one of the president’s chief defenders as a senator and as chairman of the Republican National Committee. As Election Day approached, polls showed him trailing his Democratic challenger, William Roy. An anti-abortion group then produced a flyer depicting aborted fetuses. Flyers were spotted on the windshields of cars parked near the church on Sunday morning.

Dole edged Roy by 1.7%, the closest election of his 35-year career. He would become the Senate Majority Leader in 1985 and the GOP presidential nominee in 1996. Dole died last year.

Goldwater did not have a close call in the 1974 election, with few Republicans holding office. As a Nixon critic, he was isolated from the Watergate fallout. He was also credited with persuading the president to resign when it was clear he would be impeached and convicted.

Goldwater, it may surprise some to learn, was a supporter of abortion rights. He remained steadfast in that opinion until the end, serving in the Senate until 1986. Despite the growing influence of social conservatives in the Arizona state party, he did not change his views and was a champion of the separation of church and state until his death. In 1998.

in Roe v. Wade The year was 1974, Goldwater was still a household name across the country. He sought and won the Republican nomination for president 10 years ago, winning over the GOP’s eastern establishment. Incumbent Democrat Lyndon B. Defeated by Johnson that fall, Goldwater carried five states in the Deep South, leading five other Republican candidates to follow them to the White House.

Along the way, he inspired a generation of young politicians, including Hillary Rodham, a teenager from the suburbs of Chicago. A “Goldwater Girl” in 1964, she would later become Hillary Clinton, first lady, senator from New York, secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate.

Wonder if she still has her “AuH20in64” button.

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