After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Kansas reported a 1,038% increase in voter registrations that week, compared with the week before. On Aug. 2, despite widespread disinformation from the anti-abortion camp, voters in the red state overwhelmingly defeated a ballot measure to end the state right to abortion by a 20-point margin. New national polling suggests Kansas could be a microcosm of a broader trend: Several major demographics are flocking to the Democratic Party in droves since the fall of Roe.
A Fox News poll from this week shows that fathers have moved from +20 support for the Republican Party in May to +8 support for the Democratic Party in August—a 28-point shift, compared with +13 support for the Republican Party among male voters overall in May to +11 support for Republicans in August. The same poll found an 8-point shift to support Democrats among white women, compared with a 7-point shift among women voters in general; a +9 point shift among suburban women; and a +10 shift among women of color.
These numbers are especially significant given the oft-cited fact that a majority of white women voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. Exit polls, which contain errors and should always be taken with a grain of salt, suggested that around 52% of white women voted for Trump in 2016, and between 52 and 55% of white women voted for him in 2020. White women in general, particularly married ones (they vote with their Republican husbands, as the assumption goes) have historically voted GOP—but it looks like the fall of Roe could be the last straw for many.
On the one hand, I can’t help but remain skeptical, given that Republicans have been promising to ban abortion and gut access to reproductive care for years, and white women continued to vote for them, ultimately creating the current state of affairs. (Trump alone appointed a third of the Supreme Court bench, as well as a shocking amount of the judiciary that’s constantly upholding state-level bans.) But I also don’t see how anyone wouldn’t be galvanized by the fall of Roe and the onslaught of horrors it’s unleashed on pregnant people. Just this week, a woman in Louisiana said she’s being forced to carry a headless, nonviable fetus due to the state’s abortion ban. Republican leaders spent last month essentially calling a child rape victim denied abortion care in Ohio a liar.
“There were a lot of people that believed as long as [Roe] was in place, there was only so much that could be done to take away that right, though unfortunately, state legislatures have been proving that theory wrong for a while now,” Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications at EMILY’s List, told Jezebel. “Without Roe, for a lot of voters who may not have been as political before, it’s a lot more real now.”
Abortion access, Reynolds emphasizes, has always been popular: Per some estimates, eight in 10 Americans support the legal right. “What we really faced was a believability gap—people didn’t believe it was actually at risk,” she said. “Now that we’re actually seeing our freedoms taken away, that’s a big motivating factor.”
Josh Siebenaler, an organizer at the Kansas Abortion Fund, told me that when abortion is “literally on the ballot, and this is not a matter of voting for a person,” it will win. “We’re voting on an issue area that is extremely popular in Kansas and across the country. Anti-abortion folks thought they were being clever. But they learned abortion isn’t unpopular, it’s gerrymandered.”
Also between May and August, the same poll found parents as a whole went from supporting Republicans over Democrats by a 45 to 39% margin to supporting Democrats over Republicans by a 46 to 35% margin. Simona Grace, executive director of the political action group Moms in Office and a single mom herself, says these shifts—particularly among dads, suburban women, and parents in general—reflect how parents understandably want their kids to have the same or more rights than they’ve enjoyed.
“I’m 39 years old and Roe has been in place since 1973, a decade before I was born. A lot, maybe a majority, of parents never even experienced a world without Roe themselves—now the idea their children are growing up in a country with less rights than they had is terrifying,” Grace said. “Are we living in the type of democracy we want our children to inherit?”
Much of the focus on midterm polling and Roe has been placed on Congress, which shows Republicans and Democrats in a dead heat. But Grace hopes voters pay attention to races up and down the ballot—especially where abortion rights are concerned. “We’re seeing more than ever, really, how important state legislatures are, and I hope this lights a fire under a lot of women and moms to run and vote on every level for years to come.”