Hamilton County, Kansas, population 2,518, voted 81% for Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020. Yet on August 2, 44% of those voting in the county answered “no” to a primary ballot question of whether the Kansas state constitution should be amended to remove protections of abortion rights. Statewide, the “no” side – don’t remove choice protections – won 59 to 41%, a resounding and perhaps surprising result for a deep red Republican state.
In the largest cities in the state – Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka, and Lawrence – the pro-choice voters won by wide margins. In the 16 counties with at least 10,000 votes, the “no” side won in 14. But rural and small-town Kansas helped in the pro-choice victory.
An examination of votes in all 105 Kansas counties showed that, in 31 of the 76 counties with less than 5,000 votes on the abortion question, 40% or more of the voters said “no, abortion protections should not be removed.” In 74 of those 76 counties, the anti-choice voters won, but not by large margins in many places.
Forty counties had less than 1,150 total votes cast on the question, and in all the anti-choice forces won. But in 23 of those 40 counties, at least 30% of the votes were “no, do not remove the protections.” In 10 of the 15 counties with the fewest votes, between 31 and 44 of the voters said “no.”
For example, in Pratt County, population 9,647, 46% of the total of 2,811 votes were “no” votes. In Atchison County, population 16,210, 50% of 4,939 votes cast were “no.”
Urban liberals everywhere may have spilled their Starbucks when reading about these overall Kansas results. They also need to realize that rural and small-town voters played a big part.
Joel Belden is a writer and consultant based in Washington, D.C.