Advance Notice: Briefs

Analysis: Reproductive rights firing up women voter registration in Michigan and Wisconsin

By: - August 29, 2022 10:58 am

Hundreds rally at the state Capitol for the MI Body MI Choice event on Oct. 2, 2021 | Allison R. Donahue

A recent analysis indicates that Kansas isn’t the only state in which reproductive rights is a motivating force for voters.

On Aug. 2, voters in Kansas soundly rejected a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would have allowed state lawmakers to restrict or ban abortion. It was a stunning result in a deeply conservative state where Donald Trump beat Joe Biden 56% to 42% in 2020.

TargetSmart, a Democratic political data and data services firm, analyzed voter data and concluded that in the days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, a decisive change began to take place in the state’s electorate.

New voter registrations in Kansas favored Democrats by 9 points, highly notable in a state where there are nearly 400,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. In addition, a “staggering” 70% of all new registrants were women.

Now, TargetSmart says as the midterm elections come into view, there is increasing evidence that what happened in Kansas is not an isolated phenomenon. 

Gender gap in voter registration | TargetSmart

“In states like Wisconsin and Michigan where reproductive rights are at stake this year, we’re seeing a meaningful gender gap in registration, whereby women are out-registering men by significant margins,” said a release this month. “In states like Rhode Island and New York where reproductive rights are protected by Democratic leaders in government, no gender gap exists.”

In Michigan, where a 1931 law threatens to prohibit almost all abortions, the firm says of the nearly 13,000 new voters that have registered since the Dobbs decision, women are out-registering men by 8.1 percentage points, while Democrats are out-registering Republicans by 18 percentage points.

Wisconsin, another battleground state, is seeing that same dynamic on an even larger scale. According to TargetSmart data, among new registrants in that state since June 24, women have out-registered men by 15.6%, with Democrats making up more than 52% of that group, while less than 17% of new voters are registering as Republicans.

“Right now, all signs point to a fired up female electorate around the country in states where abortion rights are under immediate threat,” concluded TargetSmart.

Both states have laws banning abortion on the books. Abortion is illegal in Wisconsin follwing the Dobbs decision.

Michigan’s 1931 law criminalizing abortion that only has an exception for the life of the “pregnant woman,” is on hold amid court challenges. A measure enshrining the right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution is likely to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.

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