However, our nation’s response to the overturning of Roe may offer some hope at the end of the road — if we approach the situation with heart, brains and courage, just like activists and voters did in Kansas on Tuesday!
Kansas is a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump (56.1% to 41.5%) in 2020, and even worse (56.16% to 35.74%) in 2016.
It has three GOP congressional reps (and only one Dem) in Washington, D.C., and two GOP senators. It elected a state legislature that is overwhelmingly red. We'd assume that Kansas voters would be champing at the bit to overthrow abortion rights — wouldn't you?
So when an amendment to their state constitution was added to Tuesday’s primary-election ballot, asking voters to revoke or not revoke the state’s historical protection of abortion rights, there was little reason for optimism. For the past thirty years, the Kansas statehouse has had strong anti-abortion majorities. The voter base is 44% Republican, and just 26% Democrat. Making matters worse, over the past ten years, Kansas Republicans have turned out for primary elections at double the rate of the state’s Dems.
“I’ll get your abortion rights, my pretty …
and your little birth control pills, too!”
But, sometimes — if you let them, and if you help them a little — people will surprise you.
It turns out that the people of deep-red Kansas, despite their ingrained conservatism and GOP roots, DO support the rights of people to control their own bodies.
And it turns out that a full-court press from grassroots activists was what they needed to get them to the polls, to vote in support of those values.
Canvassers on their way to knock doors.
Grassroots organizations coordinated a massive outreach program. Millions of dollars were donated and spent in building awareness, and activists were out in force. Volunteers knocked on thousands of doors, armed (as one organizer explained it) “with talking points aimed at all voters — not just liberals.” Volunteers sent out thousands of postcards and texts, and made countless phone calls.
A pro-abortion rights rally in rural western Kansas “featured horses, a Dolly Parton playlist and T-shirts with a pink uterus in a cowboy hat,” and the slogan “Vote Neigh.”
A “NO” vote in Kansas was a vote to preserve abortion rights.
And WOW did it pay off. On Tuesday, voters in Kansas came out in droves! Their turnout rate was almost 50%, much higher than the anticipated 36%, and almost double the number that turned out for the 2018 primary.
Voters in Wichita. Believe us, if we could come up with a good “Wicked Wichita” joke, we’d use it.
And they voted OVERWHELMINGLY to support abortion rights — even in ultra-conservative rural areas. The New York Times reported, “Consider far western Kansas, a rural region along the Colorado border that votes overwhelmingly Republican. In Hamilton County, which voted 81 percent for Mr. Trump in 2020, less than 56 percent chose the anti-abortion position on Tuesday…. In Greeley County, which voted more than 85 percent for Mr. Trump, only about 60 percent chose the anti-abortion position.” Less conservative areas pulled their weight, too. “Wyandotte County, home to Kansas City, Kan., voted 65 percent for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020, but 74 percent for abortion rights on Tuesday. Neighboring Johnson County, the state’s most populous, voted 53 percent for Mr. Biden but more than 68 percent for abortion rights.” No matter what candidates voters had supported in the past, their support for reproductive rights was stronger.
All told, abortion rights in Kansas won by a margin of 18 points — 59% to 41%. If the Kansas primary was, as the Dallas Daily News described it, “the first ballot barometer of liberal and moderate voters’ anger over the recent Supreme Court overturning Roe,” we can’t complain about the result.
But what CAN we do?
What we can do is be inspired by it!
We can be motivated by it!
Kansas voters found abortion rights compelling enough to get them to cross the aisle. That’s a good sign that moderate Republican and independent voters in New Jersey are going to rethink their traditional allegiances, too. People who care about reproductive freedom for themselves, their friends and family members, and members of their community may find themselves feeling a little wobbly about their support for Republican candidates, who are leaning increasingly towards troublingly hardline anti-abortion positions. Dems who have been feeling too apathetic, conflicted, or complacent to vote in recent years are likely to be wobbling in their decision sit it out this time, too.
Those wobbly voters need to get off the fence … and they need friendly, sensible help once they do.
We are NOTHING if not friendly and sensible!
Helpful, too. Ask anyone.
And it’s time for us to go help those wobbly voters!
ARE YOU READY?
NJ 11th for Change is ready to help you get ready. We’re planning canvassing trainings (bring a friend! we give prizes for bringing friends!), postcard and letter campaigns, canvassing and phone banking events, text banking, and a mid-August kick-off featuring special guest Rep. Mikie Sherrill herself.
Our new Volunteer Opportunities webpage will always be updated with the current week’s roster of actions you can take to support your favorite candidates. Currently, that includes events for CD-11, in which NJ 11th for Change’s endorsed candidate Mikie Sherrill is running against Trump-supporter Paul DeGroot.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, accepting NJ 11th for Change's endorsement at the canvassing launch last Sunday.
Nice lid, Mikie!
Our volunteer opportunity webpage may soon expand to include actions in other districts where our members have a strong vested interest:
- CD-7 (where Rep. Tom Malinowski is the incumbent)
- CD-10 (where Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. is the incumbent), and
- CD-3 (where Rep. Andy Kim is the incumbent).
Look for our listings to also feature a select roster of events related to issues of particular concern to our members, such as reproductive rights, school board battles, and gun safety.
But while you're here, please check out the events listed below! Kansas is proof that there is HOPE, if we do the work. SO ... BE LIKE THOSE ACTIVISTS IN KANSAS! We can’t wait to see you in action.
Complete Week of “Team Mikie” Opportunities:
(click the links for details, and to register)
- Saturday, August 6 at 10:00 am — Livingston Canvass Launch. Rumor has it there will be bloody marys!
- Sunday, August 7 at 11:00 am — Montclair Canvass Launch
- Sunday, August 7 at 11:00 am — Lincoln Park Canvass Launch
- EVERY Monday at 3:00-5:00 pm — Women for Mikie Virtual Phonebank. Lend a hand from wherever you are!
- EVERY Tuesday at 5:00 pm, at campaign headquarters in West Caldwell — In Person Auto Dialer Phonebank.
- Thursday, August 11 at 3:00 pm — Morris County Canvass Launch
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. — Virtual phonebanks to prepare voters for the midterms!
Issue Event — Abortion Rights Teach-In: Saturday, August 6, 3:00–6:00 pm, at JFK Park in Dover (corner of North Bergen and East McFarlan /Route 46). Learn about local abortion healthcare access, New Jersey's reproductive rights laws and pending legislation, and what YOU can do to help.
NJ 11th for Change — Event Tabling: There's nothing more satisfying than setting up shop at a local community event and encouraging constituents to vote, get registered, sign up to vote by mail, or learn about their candidates! If you're interested, please email Mara! We're looking for volunteers to:
- research events in their towns and counties where we can table this summer and fall, and
- come on out and staff the tables!
- NJ 11th for Change Vote-By-Mail Letter Campaign: Not all NJ voters know they have to actively request a mail-in ballot this year. That’s where YOU can help! We’ll provide the official VBM request forms and a list of names and addresses; you provide postage, post-its, and envelopes. Write a quick personal note on the post-it encouraging the recipient to vote by mail, stick it to the request form, stuff it in the envelope, and send it off! We have a tight list of in-district voters who need this little push to significantly increase their turnout rates. Let’s make it easy for them to do the right thing!
Interested in helping? Join the team by emailing NJ 11 Field Director Stacey Abenstein and putting “VBM CAMPAIGN” in the subject line. (Can't write but want to donate stamps or stamp-money? Email Stacey!)
Packets getting ready to go, straight from Stacey's dining room table to yours!
NJ 11th for Change / Working America Letter-Writing Campaign: You know that NJ 11th for Change usually focuses close to home — no national campaigns that make us roam far afield. HOWEVER! We do make one exception! Our volunteers have been participating in Working America's national letter campaign for several years, with terrific success! Working America (the activism branch of AFL-CIO) is a data-driven organization with its finger on the pulse of their electorate, and they have a meticulously field-tested, proven strategy for swinging votes in tight races. They know exactly which voters to touch, and exactly what issues and messages will do the job.
How does it work? You will be sent a document with the text of a carefully crafted letter, focused on one of three core issues that (research shows!) turns red voters blue. You'll also get a list of addresses. Type a few additional personal sentences into the document, print it out, sign it by hand, stuff it in an envelope and mail it off with a handwritten address. Print, sign, and stuff till you’ve completed your list! (You’ll need to provide stationery and stamps.) Our experienced volunteers say that it’s quicker and easier than writing postcards … and the vote-swing rate is the envy of grassroots groups from coast to coast!
Interested in helping? Get on the list by emailing NJ 11’s Working America expert, Jim Price, and putting “WORKING AMERICA” in the subject line. (Can't write but want to donate stamps or stamp-money? Email Jim!)
COMING SOON: NJ 11th for Change Postcarding: Interested in joining our crack team of postcarders? Email NJ 11 Field Director Stacey Abenstein and put “NJ11 POSTCARDS” in the subject line. We'll be in touch as soon as we're ready to launch the postcarding portion of our 2022 efforts! (Can't write but want to donate stamps or stamp-money? Email Stacey!)
NJ 11th for Change Operation Diggin’ Up the Dirt: Mikie’s opponent, Paul DeGroot, is a hard-right Trumper. He is also keeping very quiet in the public sphere about his positions; suspiciously quiet, one might say. We’re building a team to gather intel about his positions — and anything else that voters need to know.
To get involved, contact NJ 11th for Change Research Director Patricia Doherty, and put “DEGROOT RESEARCH” in the subject line.
Your contributions make our work possible! Donations allowed us to make almost 160,000 voter contacts in New Jersey's 11th congressional district in 2020, and over 130,000 in 2021; our efforts were a big part of making 11 towns flip from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020 (including some historically deep-red municipalities!) and securing a tight victory for Governor Phil Murphy in 2021.Your generous donation goes towards our data analysis and voter-file access, text banking expenses, support for our events, printing, and much more. It allows us to continue our work building a government that is transparent, responsive and accountable. Please visit our "DONATE" link and pledge any amount. Every contribution helps as we charge ahead into 2021 and beyond!