Polling News

GOP Owning Education Issue

February 02, 2023

On Monday, The Hill reported that as Republicans look to 2024, posssible presidential candidates and their strategists view education as a potent issue. 

Why It Matters: During the COVID pandemic and its remote learning, parents got a firsthand look at what was going on in their students’ classrooms and how the education system was falling short. For years, education was an issue on which Republican–with few exception–played defense. That changed in 2021 when now-Gov. Glenn Youngkin took the issue head-on amid a flurry of scandals in Virginia, ranging from lowering of state standards to a school district covering up a sexual assault on campus.  

Many other Republicans have followed by messaging heavily on education in in the 2022 Midterms and moving toward 2024. Meanwhile, Democrats have failed to confront the learning loss and curriculum challenges schools are facing, giving the GOP an historic advantage on the education issue.

By The Numbers:

  • An Impact Research poll in 2022 found 47% trust Republicans to handle education, while 44% trust Democrats.
  • According to Hart Research/Public Opinion Strategies historical data, the closest the GOP has ever been to a lead on the issue were in 2002 and 2006, when Democrats had a 6-point edge.
  • In 1989, when data on the issue was first collected, Republicans trailed Democrats on education by 15-points. 

 

Trending Now: Change. The same Impact Research 2022 survey found that teachers unions, which have grown increasingly political every cycle, are underwater with the public by three-points, 48% unfavorable to 45% favorable. Public charter schools, a frequent target of these liberal unions, are viewed 51% favorably and only 29% unfavorably. Fifty-six percent of Americans believe schools should be more focused on preparing students for jobs (as opposed to getting back to pre-pandemic norms), and schools should prioritize high quality educators in every classroom rather than hiring for volume and raising pay.

The Bottom Line: A spark was lit in Virginia in 2021 that’s created an issue Republicans can own. While the GOP bled in the suburbs during recent cycles, education serves as an issue that could stem those losses and reverse it, bringing back a critical block of voters key to GOP victories for decades. Republicans should continue finding innovative ways to make the case to voters on education, restoring the winning coalition the party needs to win in 2024.  

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