The Michigan measure was one that had reproductive rights advocates on high alert. The state is politically mixed, and failure would have dire consequences not only for Michigan residents, but also for similar efforts being made elsewhere.
In states where anti-abortion lawmakers control some levers of power, ballot initiatives may offer the best, most immediate hope of saving basic reproductive rights. Not all states allow voters to directly initiate ballot propositions; State legislatures often put them forward. But of the 17 that do, “at least 10 states with abortion bans or tighter restrictions — Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota — already have abortion rights supporters.” are discussing strategies and tactics to put an abortion initiative on the 2024 presidential election ballot,” according to the report Pew Charitable Trust,
It is a challenging mission. Those who work on these missions say they are complex, labor-intensive and expensive. petition drive Ballot initiatives have been getting more expensive since at least 2016, with the average cost doubling to more than $4 million in 2022 from more than $2 million in 2020, according to ballot paper, And an election skirmish on one measure can cost lakhs. (The two main campaigns in the Kansas contest combined over $11 million.) This is why funding from out-of-state groups and individuals is so important.
Each campaign needs to be handled differently depending on the views of the state’s voters. There is no one-size-fits-all guide to victory. That said, there are basic lessons to come out of this year’s competitions – especially in the blue zones – that may help guide future efforts.
To defeat anti-choice measures in conservative states, reproductive rights advocates had to reach across the red-blue divide, They aimed to persuade rather than polarize voters by focusing on women’s health, safety and fundamental rights rather than their tribal loyalties.
Kansas was the first state to vote on abortion after Ro-Ro, and the campaign there faced the most intense national scrutiny. The coalition leading the charge against the proposed amendment, Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, loudly touted its bipartisan nature. And even as local Democratic officials worked to defeat the measure — wooing voters and distributing yard signs from their offices — they eschewed the usual partisan framing. (It’s worth noting that Laura Kelly, the Democratic governor of Kansas, did not make abortion a focus of her re-election campaign.) By separating the issue from any particular party or candidates, reproductive rights advocates paved the way for crossover voting. .
With an issue as delicate as abortion, success required campaigns that were aggressive but attuned to local sensibilities. What appeals to national activists or voters in Sacramento may not necessarily do well in Omaha or Oklahoma City. Figuring out how to approach the issue in a given state requires a lot of front-end foundational work – polling, focus groups and other research into what local citizens really think and feel. Huh.
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