The amendment’s failure lifted Democrats’ hopes that the issue of abortion rights will draw voters to the party in November’s midterm elections even as they worry about surging inflation.
The result also will prevent the Kansas’ Republican-led legislature from passing severe abortion restrictions in the state, which has become a key abortion access point for America’s heartland.
“This should be a real wake-up call for abortion opponents,” said Neal Allen, a political science professor at Wichita State University. “When a total ban looks like a possibility, then you’re going to get a lot of people to turn out, and you’re going to lose a lot of the more moderate supporters of abortion restrictions.”
Political analysts had expected the Kansas amendment to pass, given that Republicans typically turn out in greater numbers for the state’s primary elections than Democrats and independents.
Test of Trump influence
Tuesday’s elections, including key contests in Arizona and Washington state, represent the latest test of Mr Trump’s sway over the Republican electorate. Several Trump-backed candidates have embraced the former president’s falsehoods about voter fraud, raising concerns among some Republicans that they could be too extreme to defeat Democrats on November 8.
In Michigan, US Representative Peter Meijer, one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack by Trump supporters, lost to far-right challenger John Gibbs.
Mr Gibbs, backed by Trump, was the beneficiary of Democratic advertising during the Republican primary, part of a risky strategy of trying to elevate more vulnerable Republican candidates in swing districts even as party leaders warn they pose a danger to democracy.
With an economy teetering on the brink of recession and inflation surging, just 38 per cent of Americans approve of President Joe Biden’s job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday – still near Mr Biden’s record low of 36 per cent, hit in May. One in three voters said the biggest problem facing the United States today is the economy.
Mr Biden’s unpopularity is weighing on Democrats heading into November general election, when Republicans are favoured to win control of the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate.
Control of either chamber would give Republicans the power to stymie Mr Biden’s legislative agenda while launching politically damaging hearings.
As he flirts publicly with the possibility of running for president again in 2024, Mr Trump has endorsed more than 200 candidates. Most are safe bets – incumbent Republicans in conservative districts – but even in competitive races most of his candidates have prevailed.
“Trump remains really popular with Republican primary voters. I don’t think you can underestimate how he has remade the party in his image,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist. “Republicans who run against Trump tend to get trampled.”