A celebration in Kansas after voters rejected a state constitutional amendment restricting or banning abortion (Image: AP/Angie Ricono/KCTV5)

It was a shellacking. On Tuesday, during a primary vote in a deep-red American state that was expected to be dominated by Republican and independent voters, a referendum was on the ballot. The question asked Kansans to weigh in on access to abortion. Did they want the state’s robust constitutional protection of a women’s right to choose to stand, or for it to fall?

Sixty per cent of Kansans voted to protect abortion rights, a figure that dwarfed the 40% who wanted the constitution changed so the Republican-dominated state legislature could follow the lead of surrounding states and ban the procedure outright.

What happened? A doubling of voter turnout when compared to the 2018 primaries, in a country where voting is not compulsory. And while most of the increased turnout were Democrats, about one-fifth were Republicans who -- like their independent and Democratic counterparts -- weren’t just clustered in cities, but distributed across rural and regional areas of the state.