After the Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion precedent Roe v. Wade on June 24, women have been leading voter registration counts in several U.S. states. According to data by CEO Tom Bonier of political data company Targetsmart, these new female voters outnumbered new male voters by at least 10 percentage points in nine states as of mid-August. Women voters do outnumber male voters in almost all states, but not by this large a margin.
The most extreme example of the slant happened in Kansas, where an early August referendum reaffirmed state constitutional protections for abortion. Of several abortion referendums which will be on the ballot this year, the Kansas one was the first to take place post-Dobbs, showing how the abortion question can mobilize women to register and to vote.
New female voter registration shares were also high in three states where abortions are already illegal following the Supreme Court ruling - Idaho, Wisconsin and Louisiana. While no ballot questions are expected in these states, Pennsylvania, where new women voters outnumbered males by 12 percentage points, could see a constitutional referendum in 2023. So far, abortion has remained legal in the state.
As any legislation for or against abortions in Pennsylvania would likely stall with the government being split between a Republican legislature and a Democratic governor, the ballot box is the only way for the state’s Republicans to restrict abortions. The Kansas referendum, which was also put on the ballot by Republican lawmakers, shows that there can be heavy pushback to such initiatives, however. Like Kansas and Pennsylvania, Michigan has a Republican-led legislature and a Democratic governor and is expecting a referendum in November, albeit through a pro-abortion citizens initiative. However, no female voter registration surge has been detected here despite abortion access having remained in limbo since June in the state.