Indies strongly side with Youngkin and GOP when asked if parents or school boards should influence curriculum more

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Ed already wrote about the Suffolk poll this morning showing a dead heat between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe but I want to highlight the partisan split on one detail since it’s important. “Asked who should have more of an influence on a school’s curriculum, 49.8% sided with parents compared to 38.8% who said school boards,” Suffolk noted. But it’s worth looking at how the three different groups shook out on that question.

Independents side with Republicans against Democrats. By a lot. A lot lot.

Which means, if Youngkin pulls this off on Tuesday, we should expect parents’ rights and school policy to be major themes for Republicans all next year, right up to the midterms. The GOP’s been hunting for ways to get suburban parents back on their side after so many well educated voters turned blue during the Trump years. Thanks to CRT, the war over mask mandates, and McAuliffe taking a cavalier attitude towards parents’ authority over what their kids should learn, Youngkin may have stumbled onto the secret of how to make the suburbs purplish-red again instead of purplish-blue.

I’ll say this for McAuliffe, though, he’s certainly a man of his party on this issue.

Republicans are +67 in favor of parents. Independents are +25. Democrats are -54. I wonder how many issues across the spectrum in American life see a gap of nearly 80 net points between Dems and indies. You can understand why Team Youngkin rolled out that ad yesterday featuring a Virginia mom complaining about “explicit” material (i.e. award-winning Toni Morrison novels) being taught in schools. Dems are badly exposed here and he’s taking full advantage.

Remember Sunny Hostin rolling her eyes at Gretchen Carlson yesterday for mentioning inflation and the supply chain as key issues for independents and how out of touch she seemed? Add school policy to the list of subjects on which the left is drifting far away from the middle, to its peril.

Apart from mentioning Trump every six seconds, McAuliffe’s strategy to counter Youngkin’s growing advantage with parents is to emphasize the risks from COVID and the GOP’s more laissez-faire attitude towards precautions. In his zeal to make that case, though, McAuliffe has resorted to a bad habit for which his old friend Bill Clinton is known. He’s begun to lie. Often.

And what about McAuliffe’s Oct. 7 comment that 1,142 children were in ICU beds? That number seemed totally off-kilter. (For the week ended Oct. 2, the number of children in hospitals, not necessarily in intensive care, was just 35.)

[T]hen he said it again, on Oct. 21: “We’ve just 1,142 children in serious, in hospitals, in ICU beds.” That was still wrong: on that day there were only 334 people (of all ages) in ICU beds in Virginia, according the state health department data…

We can understand the occasional misspeak, especially in the heat of a campaign. Moreover, as readers know, we generally do not award Pinocchios when a politician admits error.

But this has happened too many times for McAuliffe’s language to be an accident. He repeatedly mentions a weekend number for [COVID] cases, but suggests it’s a one-day figure. He offers wildly inflated figures for child hospitalizations, suggesting again that these were daily figures and claiming twice that these many children were in ICUs. Instead, he appears to be citing a figure for all of the children hospitalized with covid-19 in Virginia over the past 19 months — which is still inflated.

The more dire he makes COVID sound, especially for children, the more frightened some parents will be at the thought of a new Republican governor easing restrictions in schools. And he’s willing to lie to do it. It’s part of a theme with McAuliffe, like when he falsely claimed that Stacey Abrams had votes taken away from her when she ran for governor of Georgia in 2018. He’s obviously panicked about turnout, he sees that Youngkin has a real chance at an unlikely upset, and so he’s going to say whatever he needs to say to try to get his base motivated, truthful or not.

Another example: Last night he called Youngkin’s new ad with the Virginia mom a “racist dog whistle designed to gin up support from the most extreme elements of his party” because it supposedly endorsed “book banning and silencing esteemed Black authors.” But the ad never identified the book in question, let alone that it had been written by a black author, and the mom’s objection to it was to explicit scenes involving bestiality. It wasn’t Youngkin who racialized the dispute. McAuliffe’s doing that for the same reason that he went all-in on Abrams trutherism, because he knows black voters are disappointed in the Biden administration so far and might not show up next Tuesday. He’s trying to scare them into turning out with ominous warnings about racist ads and stolen elections.

Speaking of Biden, he’s in Virginia to campaign today for McAuliffe, doubtless to the dismay of a candidate who rarely mentions him on the trail anymore. Exit quotation from one panicky DNC official, worried about Dem turnout: “If they want to make sure that Donald Trump is front and center running for president again, then don’t show up to vote. This could be the ballgame here.”