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Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan Women, Democrats Swelling Voter Rolls; SD Shows Slight Surge in New Female Voters

The defeat of the anti-abortion amendment on the primary ballot in Kansas on August 2 resulted in part from a surge in voter registration among Democrats and women. Tom Bonier, CEO of voter data firm TargetSmart, reports that, after the Dobbs decision, the proportion of Democrats and women registering to vote in Kansas far exceeded normal ratios:

Among Kansans who registered to vote on or after June 24th, the days after the Dobbs decision was announced, Democrats have had an 8 point advantage.

Compare this with the GOP’s overall advantage of 19 points among all registered voters in Kansas. The landscape changed on June 24th, and voters in Kansas, a conservative state in every sense of the word, unified around a woman’s right to choose.

Even more significant, and perhaps more concerning for Republicans heading into the midterms, is the fact that 70% of Kansans who registered to vote after the Dobbs decision was released were women [Tom Bonier, “How Abortion Changed the Kansas Electorate,” TargetSmart newsletter, 2022.08.03].

Bonier reports similar trends in other states that are threatening women’s autonomy and equality:

Now, as we move ahead through additional state primaries and toward the midterm elections, there is evidence that what happened in Kansas isn’t an outlier. 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. In states like Rhode Island and New York where reproductive rights are protected by Democratic leaders in government, no gender gap exists.

…In Wisconsin… [a]ccording to TargetSmart data, among new registrants since June 24, women have out-registered men by 15.6%.
Democrats make up 52.36% of all of those newly registered voters, compared with 16.59% of new voters registering as Republicans.

…In Michigan… [a]mong the 12,879 new voters that have registered since the Dobbs decision, women are out-registering men by 8.1 percentage points. In the same time frame, Democrats are out-registering Republicans by 18 percentage points [Tom Bonier, “Not Just Kansas; Women Motivated to Vote in States with Repro Rights at Risk,” TargetSmart newsletter, 2022.08.16].

Bonier tweets data showing double-digit gender gaps favoring women in post-Dobbs voter registration in Idaho, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Ohio, Missouri, and Colorado. Bonier also notices that South Dakota is showing a 5% female advantage in recent voter registrations:

Tom Bonier, tweet, 2022.08.17.
Tom Bonier, tweet, 2022.08.17.

Women may be outnumbering men in new voter registrations in South Dakota, but Democrats still aren’t outpacing Republicans in gains. From primary day June 7 to July 1 to August 17, the net increase in South Dakota voter registration was 5,958 voters, a 1.02% increase. Over 84% of that increase came from Republicans, who added 5,011 new voters, a 1.75% increase for the part; independents (up 1,094, +0.78%) and Libertarians (up 74, +2.79%) made up the rest of the gain. Since primary day, Democrats have actually lost 221 registered voters, a 0.15% decline.

Since August 2, 2021, South Dakota Republicans have added 8,297 to their statewide roll, a 2.93% increase. Independent registrations have shrunk by 855 (–0.60%), while Democrats have lost 7,421 voters (–4.69%). So if South Dakota women did outregister men over the last couple months, a lot of them must have signed up as Republicans.

The Alito Court appears to have sparked enthusiasm among women and Democrats in several states to register to vote. That effect may be manifesting itself among women in South Dakota, but South Dakota Democrats are not yet seeing an advantage for their party registration numbers.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-08-18 07:06

    Fact check:. Wisconsin does not collect information on voter registrants’ gender or party.

    I’m not sure how they got this data, but it couldn’t have come from the Wisconsin Election Commission.

  2. lausbube 2022-08-18 08:25

    Perhaps a lot of “former” democrats have changed voter registration in an attempt to pick the least bad of the republicans in the primary. The democrats seem unable to even field a single person for each position open for the next election in November, let alone enough have a primary ballot!

  3. P. Aitch 2022-08-18 09:55

    What age groups are least registered? I’d think it’s Generation Z.

  4. Cully Williams 2022-08-18 10:03

    They likely got their gender data from name analysis. If they’re gonna use subjective metrics like that, they need to compare the new voter gender gap to the current voter gender gap. F+5% is one thing, but in the context of a hypothetical F+10% current voter setup, it’s entirely different.

    I’d also wanna see a better breakdown of party too, even if it’s less useful because parties are subjective and fluid. This is all data they have and didn’t release it (at least not that I can find) which suggests to me that there’s a bit more to the story here, although I don’t know what that *more* is.

  5. Donald Pay 2022-08-18 10:41

    Cully Williams, Gender Info can be generated, I suppose not perfectly accurately, by first and middle name, but in Wisconsin we don’t register by party. I can’t imagine how they generate that, unless they contacted each person (or a representative sample of new registrants).

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-18 10:59

    South Dakota doesn’t ask voters to include sex on their voter registration, either. But in addition to looking at names (which would give the right sex…what, 90%+ of the time?), they also appear to match records across multiple sources, some of which may include M/F/O.

    And whatever imperfections may lie in Target Smart’s data, those imperfections have always been there, and one would think that normal quality control would be reducing those imperfections. Yet looking at his own data, Bonier says the surge in women registering to vote in the last two months is unlike any pattern he’s seen in his organization’s data:

    “When you you analyze data, you tend to get excited when you see movements from the norm, maybe five or six points — that’s telling you that something meaningful happened, something outside of the norm. And in this case, we saw something outside of the norm by 20 points,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything to that extent in terms of that intensity” [Barbara Sprunt, “How the 2022 Midterms Could Change After the Kansas Abortion Vote,” NPR, 2022.08.04].

    The surges Bonier identifies aren’t slam-dunk evidence that more women voters will reverse all the predictions folks were making about midterms three months ago. But Bonier’s data does provide reasonable hope for candidates and backers of pro-choice, pro-women ballot measures.

  7. P. Aitch 2022-08-18 13:22

    Women vs Catholics and Evangelicals? Smart moneys on the females …

  8. Lynne 2022-08-19 08:22

    There are plenty of databases out there with gender information. It’s a simple matter of combining or cross-checking the data. They don’t need to guess based on names. Companies know more about us than our families.

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