(The Center Square) – Lingering concerns about pandemic learning loss have shifted voter trust on education issues from Democrats to Republicans in four battleground states, including North Carolina.
A new poll of 1,200 voters in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada conducted by Emerson College Polling for school choice advocates at Democrats for Education Reform found Republicans lead on trust in education by 3%, reversing a double-digit lead previously held by Democrats. The poll’s margin of error is plus/minus 3%.
“The crisis in education has mounted into one voters simply cannot ignore,” Democrats for Education Reform CEO Jorge Elorza said. “Voters – especially parents – want to see more choices for their children. Republicans are capitalizing on this. Embracing public school choice isn’t just the right thing today, but it will help Democrats reconnect with frustrated voters and families who know that more of the same won’t fix our public education system.”
Overall, 36% of voters in the battleground states trust Republicans more with “making sure public schools are preparing students for success after high school by ensuring they are teaching students to read and do math well,” compared to 33% who trust Democrats more. Another 17% trust neither, 7% trust both and 6% are unsure.
Republicans hold the largest advantage in North Carolina, where 40% trusted Republicans more versus 32% who trusted Democrats more. In Arizona, the Republican advantage is 34% to 32%, in Nevada it’s 35% to 33% and in Georgia both parties are at 35%.
The poll comes as Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly prepare to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of legislation to streamline the charter school review process and expand access. A bill to greatly expand the state’s private school voucher program also cleared the House in May, and is now pending in the Senate.
“Encouragingly for Democrats, the survey showed strong favorability among all voters, including Democrats and independent voters for public school choice, including public charter schools (64% and 66%), public magnet schools (62% and 60%), and career academies (70% and 67%),” Democrats for Education Reform reports. “Despite Republican choice programs in these states, voters still prefer the Democratic version of public-school choice by 35-percentage points.”
In the Old North State, 71% of those surveyed support public school choice options, while 29% backed school vouchers that allow parents to send their children to private schools. Among Republicans, 59% backed public school choice versus 41% who support vouchers.
Carolina Partnership for Reform wrote in an analysis of the poll that “voters are not following the nuance of public vs. public charter vs. private voucher arguments.”
“It seems to us that voters recognize the broad contours – Republicans support school choice, Democrats oppose school choice – and render judgments accordingly,” the analysis read. “For the sake of parents who know their children could perform better in a different education setting, we hope Democrats eventually abandon their opposition to school choice policies, just as national Democrats have begun doing on voter ID.”