That’s the view of liberal Washington Post opinion writer James Hohmann. He bases this view on the findings of a survey conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
I obtained a 45-slide PowerPoint recently presented to Republican senators that summarizes findings from a previously unreported internal poll of 1,200 likely voters in 2022 suburban battlegrounds. Notable results included:
*Seventy-eight percent agreed that “many public-school systems in America are failing and children are falling behind the rest of the world.”
*Sixty-five percent agreed that “allowing biological males to compete against women in high school and college sports is hugely unfair and will erase many of the gains women have made in athletics over the last 50 years.”
*Fifty-eight percent agreed that “critical race theory should not be taught in schools” because “children should not be told they are inherently racist simply because of the color of their skin.”
It depresses me that only 58 percent agreed with the last of these propositions. However, the poll shows that Democrats are on the unpopular side of this issue and of the education debate, generally.
Democrats traditionally hold advantages on education, but parental anger at learning loss caused by school closures has shifted the landscape. Many moms and dads blame recalcitrant teachers unions, to whom the Democratic Party is beholden, for slow reopenings. Mask mandates in the classroom poll well but have added to tensions.
The key sentence here is the middle one, I think. Parents have come to understand that the Dems are in the pocket of teachers unions, and they don’t like it. Why would they?
The education issue provides a path for a Republican comeback in the suburbs. That should be obvious. It also provides a path for major inroads with Latino voters. Says Hohmann:
One reason Republican strategists are so high on the education messages is that they also play well with Latinos. The NRSC plan to win back the Senate involves retaining support from rural and non-college-educated Whites who moved toward the GOP under Trump, continuing to make inroads among Hispanics, and reversing the suburban slide among college-educated Whites.
The three-pronged approach means Republicans do not need to recapture all the suburban voters who backed Mitt Romney in 2012 but shifted to Biden in 2020 in order to regain control of the Senate, which is currently divided 50-50.
Is the poll conducted for the NRSC reliable? Hohmann seems to think so, and I do too.
It was conducted across 192 battleground counties by Wes Anderson, a GOP consultancy that worked for RNSC head Sen. Rick Scott in his successful campaigns for governor and the Senate. The poll excluded suburbs in 13 deep-blue states represented by two Democratic senators, as well as counties that technically count as suburban but broke for Trump by more than two points. Thus, it seems truly to encompass voters in suburban battlegrounds, and only those voters.
In other findings, the poll showed Joe Biden’s approval rating to be 45 percent. Both parties were viewed more negatively than positively, but the Democrats significantly more so. Republicans have a net unfavorable rating of four points, compared with 11 points for Democrats.
Asked to choose between two statements, 50 percent said the fall of Afghanistan was because of Biden’s incompetence, and 41 percent said there was no way for the withdrawal to go smoothly given the plan Biden inherited from Trump. (If allowed to, I would have answered “yes” on both propositions.)
I agree with Harry Enten that the economy is issue 1 right now. It’s possible that the pandemic is issue 2.
However, the state of the economy and the pandemic might well be different in 2022, and almost certainly will be different in 2024. (In which directions, who can say with confidence?) The battle over education will probably look about the same in 2022 and 2024 as it does now. The left isn’t backing off on these issues which are vital to its transformative agenda. If anything, it likely will press forward even more vigorously, opening new fronts, mostly unpopular ones, in the battle.
Therefore, the GOP’s advantage when it comes to education will very likely persist, and quite possibly become more pronounced.