Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide who will advance to a slew of competitive general election races and, in one case, tell us about the political ramifications of the Supreme Court’s June decision rolling back abortion rights.
Based on what we know so far from Tuesday’s results, here are two winners and one loser.
Kansans voted by double digits to reject an amendment to the state constitution that would have removed protections for the right to abortion. The Kansas state Supreme Court previously ruled that the right to abortion was protected by the state constitution. This amendment, backed by conservative organizers, would have removed one crucial barrier to the Republican state legislature’s ability to enact more aggressive abortion bans than the 22-week one it currently has.
Given the obstacles that abortion rights advocates faced, Tuesday’s outcome is quite significant: The measure’s ambiguous wording (voting “no” meant maintaining protections), a state where Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats, and a slate of GOP primaries that Republicans hoped would boost their turnout relative to Democrats’.
This calculation, however, was incorrect. Turnout was extremely high across the board, far exceeding the previous two primaries. According to the Kansas City Star, nearly four times as many early votes were cast this year in Johnson County, which includes Kansas City suburbs, as in the same primary in 2018.
For the time being, abortion rights are protected in a state that, according to Vox’s Rachel Cohen, expects a large influx of women from neighboring states seeking abortion care. And the first bellwether is a big win for Democrats who saw the Supreme Court decision as a way to mobilize their voters.
Schmitt defeated both six-term Rep. Vicky Hartzler — who had the support of Sen. Josh Hawley — and Greitens by a wide margin. It’s a significant victory for Schmitt, who won without Trump’s help and is the favorite to win the general election this fall given the state’s Republican lean. Many Republicans were concerned about the prospect of a scandal-plagued Greitens winning, while Democrats were hoping for a pickup opportunity. Schmitt has clearly defined himself as a “Trump Republican,” and has previously backed unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results in other states. But he has a lot less baggage than Greitens, and his win will dampen the likelihood of a safe Republican seat becoming competitive.
Rep. Andy Levin, a Democrat, was defeated by his moderate colleague, Rep. Haley Stevens. The contentious race included clashes over Israel support (Stevens was backed by AIPAC), appeals to Black voters, and drew hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside contributions.
Democrats spent significant money this cycle to support a more extreme, and they hope, more beatable Republican candidate in Trump-backed election denier John Gibbs. And, as in other races this cycle, they faced harsh criticism from within and outside their party for the tactic in their efforts to unseat incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer, a rare Republican who voted to impeach Trump.
Meijer called Democrats hypocrites for supporting extremists, and many people agree with him. Other Democrats, however, argue that it is justified because it is ultimately up to Republicans to choose between candidates. “It’s clear that, regardless of who the Republican nominee is, they will be pushed to move to where their base is,” Democratic strategist Jared Leopold told Vox’s Nicole Narea last month.
These victories were decisive for Trump in a state where establishment Republicans, including Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence and current GOP governor Doug Ducey, supported more establishment candidates. In a primary largely focused on resolving the 2020 election, all of Trump’s candidates fully embraced the denial.
Trump also received victories in Michigan and Kansas. Tudor Dixon, a businesswoman and political commentator, won a five-person primary to become Trump’s gubernatorial candidate. Dixon, unlike the Arizona candidates, has recently avoided questions about the 2020 election, despite previously claiming that it was stolen. In Kansas, longtime Trump supporter and former state attorney general Kris Kobach won his primary for Secretary of State, his third attempt after losing the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly in 2018.