AMAC Exclusive – By Claire Brighn
Though Democrats have already secured control of the Senate, the December 6 runoff election in Georgia between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will determine whether they have an outright 51-49 majority or a 50-50 tie broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. This distinction is important, as a 50-50 Senate gives Republicans some more procedural tools that they can use to frustrate Democrats’ policy goals. While issues like inflation, crime, and abortion will undoubtedly dominate the headlines with less than two weeks to go until Election Day, education could be the “sleeper issue” that tips the scales in Walker’s favor.
Survey data and election results from November 8 provide some useful information that Republicans should not ignore as they make their final pitch to Georgia voters. Exit polls showed abortion and inflation were the top issues affecting how Georgians cast their ballot. Of those who cited abortion as their top issue, 77% voted for Warnock; of those who cited inflation, 72% voted for Walker. Similarly, deep partisan divides exist on every other issue, a fact reflected in the tightness of the race, with Warnock edging out Walker 49.4% to 48.5% and Libertarian Chase Oliver earning 2.1%.
One issue where Walker may have an edge, however, is education. Republicans’ parents’ rights and anti-indoctrination agenda have proven immensely popular with voters across the political spectrum. In pinning Warnock down on education, Walker has the advantage of being able to point to Warnock’s support for Biden administration education policies which most voters oppose. According to an AMAC Newsline/Trafalgar Group poll conducted in September, an overwhelming 82% of likely voters – including 68.6% of Democrats – do not approve of a Biden Department of Education policy that would force students to attend mandatory counseling without parental consent for “misgendering” another student.
The Biden administration has also proposed rules which would funnel tax dollars to groups promoting “anti-racist” curricula – code for Critical Race Theory. Warnock voted to confirm the very Department of Education bureaucrats who are enforcing these woke edicts and should have to answer to voters for it.
Warnock also voted against a Republican-led amendment to prevent the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools. In addition, Warnock is a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, a bill that would add gender identity and sexual orientation as a protected class under federal law and open the door for allowing biological males to use female restrooms in schools or compete in women’s sports – two more proposals that most voters oppose.
Even before his time in office, Warnock relentlessly promoted the radical concepts that parents want out of classrooms, something which is unlikely to sit well with Georgians. In 2017, Warnock said in one of his sermons that “America has a pre-existing condition – it’s called racism, it’s called classism, it’s called bigotry, it’s called xenophobia.” A year earlier, Warnock also said Americans should “repent” for their worship of “whiteness.” Given his clear embrace of far-left talking points on the racism that is supposedly engrained in the very fabric of America, it should come as no surprise that Warnock wants these falsehoods taught in every classroom.
Republicans’ success elsewhere on education also suggests Walker would be wise to emphasize the issue. For example, a poll from earlier this year found that a majority of Democratic primary voters in Florida supported Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill that banned the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade, despite the media’s misleading characterization of the legislation as the “don’t say gay bill.” A Manhattan Institute poll from late last year found that a majority of both Black and white parents support removing “lessons based on critical race theory about concepts such as white privilege and systemic racism from public school curriculum.”
Additionally, other results from November 8 suggest that education is a winning issue for conservatives. Dozens of Republican-backed school board candidates and superintendents who emphasized parental rights won in areas where other Republicans struggled. Florida and Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott also signed anti-Critical Race Theory legislation, were two bright spots for Republicans on an otherwise disappointing night. Conservative school board candidates in those states fared exceptionally well.
In the Georgia runoff, Walker would be wise to force Warnock both to take a stance on parental rights and left-wing ideologies in schools and to answer for his past support of the sort of toxic brand of identity politics that voters want out of classrooms. While the conservative base is in sync with most moderate and swing voters when it comes to the issue of indoctrination in schools, Warnock is beholden to a left-wing activist base that has gone from denying Critical Race Theory and radical gender theory exist to actively pushing the concepts in K-12 schools.
Just days after more than four million more Americans cast congressional ballots for Republicans than Democrats, President Joe Biden defiantly asserted that “nothing” will change in the next two years. For parents who are fed up with the politicization of classrooms and the failures of the American education system, that is hardly welcome news. For Walker, capitalizing on this frustration and following the path of leaders like DeSantis and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin a year before him by leaning into education could again prove a winning strategy.
Claire Brighn is the pen name of a conservative researcher and writer with previous domestic and foreign policy experience in the Executive Branch.
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