August 25, 2022
Kansas voters opted against overturning a state constitutional right to an abortion on Aug. 2, 2022. A few days later, Indiana lawmakers banned nearly all abortions. Both are conservative-leaning states that supported President Donald Trump's reelection bid by near-identical margins in 2020 - 56.1% to 41.5% in Kansas and 57% to 41% in Indiana. So what explains the different outcomes? The answer is that in Kansas, voters decided the outcome directly. In Indiana, legislators did so. This distinction matters because for contentious issues like abortion, as well as in other high-profile instances, state legislatures do not always represent public preferences within their states. We are a multi-university team of social scientists that has been regularly polling Americans in all 50 states since April 2020. In the wake of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision overturning the constitutional guarantee of the right to abortion, our polling found a disconnect between the wave of new state laws restricting abortion access and the preferences of those states' residents. This raises the question of why public policy is sometimes inconsistent with what the public wants.
Baum, Matthew A., Alauna Safarpour, and Kristin Lunz Trujillo. "4 reasons why abortion laws often clash with the majority's preferences in the US, from constitutional design to low voter turnout." The Conversation, August 25, 2022.